Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Did farmers really vote against the Canadian Wheat Board today, or are the findings simply a result of manipulation? I would suggest the latter, we need a Clarity Act for barley. Despite what Chuck Strahl says, I don't see these results as anything but confirmation that the plebiscite was a joke. Is anyone surprised that the "you can have your cake and eat it too" option won the day? Three options is a ruse, because there are only two in the real world. You either have a system of supply management or you don't, there isn't a middle road and the Conservatives are mischievous to present one as credible.

If you look at the percentages of those that actually voted against the Canadian Wheat Board, they are hardly conclusive:
38 per cent said they wanted to maintain the status quo.

Of those who didn't want the status quo, about 48 per cent said they wanted to choose where to sell their barley and about 14 per cent said the wheat board should have no role in selling barley.

By province:
The plebiscite results showed that the strongest support for the single desk system to continue was in Manitoba (51 per cent) and Saskatchewan (45 per cent), while in Alberta, only 21 per cent supported the status quo.

On the other hand, Alberta farmers were the most likely to support having a choice in where to market their barley. About 63 per cent said they supported that option. In Saskatchewan, the figure for the "CWB plus marketing choice" option was 42 per cent. In Manitoba, it was 34.6 per cent.

Turning Strahl's 62% number around, you could argue that 86% of farmers don't support abandoning the Canadian Wheat Board. The middle choice isn't a choice, it was deliberately added to help Strahl justify his feverish push to kill supply management.

The good news, these results show that the Tories could pay a price if they proceed, as Strahl suggests. A full majority in Manitoba voted for the first, clear option, which means there is no stomach for Strahl's agenda. In Saskatchewan, MP's have warned the Agriculture Minister that this push could cost the Conservatives. Couple this fact with the budget fallout, and Saskatchewan can no longer be considered a firm Tory base. In an electoral discussion, the opinions of Albertan farmers are irrelevant, unless of course you get bonus seats for 70% support.

All that happened today, Chuck Strahl proved that you can muddy the waters, toy with basic democratic premises and get a misleading result. Today just adds to the confusion, gives no real direction and essentially allow an ideologue to hammer home his agenda. There is no mandate in this vote.


Accidental Deliberations has more on the triumph of democracy and clarity.


Gayle said...

He might have been taking lessons from Klein, who would send out surveys to Albertans asking:

What do you want to do with the surplus?

1. Waste it on needless social programs and on the already over subsidized education system

2. Spend it on subsidies for hardworking oil companies in order to keep hard working Albertans working.

3. One way bus tickets to Vancouver for all the poor people in Edmonton and Calgary.

Steve V said...

Strahl said before the results, that it would "be up to me to determine what the results meant". Nothing says clear choice and democracy like a subjective reading by one individual, with a massive bias.

Anonymous said...

I have to wonder if Harper is doing this under pressure from the U.S. The U.S. was pressuring Australia to dismantle its wheat board and Howard told the U.S. to rub salt on this issue.

Something doesn't feel right here.

Steve V said...

Martin on CBC was questioning Strahl and asked him about the numbers. Martin asked why you couldn't conclude that 86% of farmers supported the Wheat Board. Oh the clarity!

annie said...

Yes, the US wants us to get rid of the Wheat Board..that is defintely behind all this.I hope the farmers give it to the Tories but good !

Browners Blog said...

Far and Wide
I agree totally on the CWB. This is political manipulation that Nazi Germany would have loved and reaks of Republican Agenda at its lowest. The CWB is supported by over 3/4 of the voting members (and if Probe Research Poll is right probably all more that did not vote) and Chucky Boy calls it as a loss? This is not open and the Conservative should apologize to the Canadian People for misleading them. The Ctrahl announcement sounded sounded like a Weapon of Mass Destruction argument we heard in the past.

Anonymous said...

Funny, it was the Conservative Party who developed the Wheat Board in the first place.

I hope George is happy now Steve.

Anonymous said...

Good news.

Hopefully the end is near for the CWB.

Consumers should be able to vote on other farm monopolies too. Like milk and eggs. We pay double what we should be paying for these products and have less choice.

Sure the less fortunate kids can drink Coke but it would be nice if everyone had a choice.

Millionaire farmers on welfare should get real jobs and contribute to the economy for a change.

Steve V said...


Your comments are beyond ignorant. You'll be buying your eggs and milk from the states in about 6 months. The only commodities that make any money are supply management, everyone else comes to the government trough anyways. Would you rather subsidize, or have a system that ensures a reasonable rate of return?

I happen to work one of the industries you mention, they are not millionaires, and if you do the labour math, they work for less than most menial jobs. Get your facts straight, your comments are simply assinine.

Miles Lunn said...

I think the vote was a sham, although disagree it is an either or. I believe Ontario has a dual marketing system, which depending on who you ask may work or may not. The mistake here is if there are three choices, one should have to get over 50% or else have another run off ballot. Another simple solution is just say do you support maintaining a single desk, yes or no as this neither specifies a dual marketing system or open market.

The CWB did say that it could survive in such a system if it owned facilities and ports, which it doesn't and the Tories seem to have no interest in doing so. Another possible solution as allow farmers to opt out of the Wheat Board, but say once a farmer leaves they can never ever again use the Wheat Board and I suspect the numbers opting out would be quite small. That is currently what is done in health care right now.

The biggest problem here was the fact the ballots had numbers attached to them so voters could potentially be identified. If Chuck Strahl and Harper were serious about having a plebiscite, they should have had Elections Canada oversee it as they are neutral and fair when it comes to elections.