Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz issued an ultimatum to the Canadian Wheat Board yesterday, saying he intends to introduce legislation to end the board's monopoly on barley sales with or without its support.
After meeting with major players from the barley industry yesterday, Mr. Ritz urged the board to back the government's efforts to create an open market for barley at its meetings in Winnipeg this week.
Mr. Ritz said having the Wheat Board onside would remove any political barriers to getting legislation passed. At present, the opposition parties are in favour of maintaining the board's monopoly power.
The minister's request puts the board in a difficult position because it would be contrary to the Canadian Wheat Board Act for the board to approve deregulation.
Ritz, like his predecessor Stahl, presents a stunning lack of respect for democracy. The CWB board is ELECTED by members, it is not some detached regime that isn't representative:
A majority of the farmer-elected directors is in favour of keeping the monopoly,
If you want to change the monopoly, there is an easy route, a novel concept called ELECTIONS. If, as Ritz posits, the board needs to change, then the farmer have the means to bring that change about. The fact that the directors are mostly "pro" monopoly translates to a simple fact- the grassroots majority supports the status quo. Why the government can't get that basic truth through their ideological heads is quite amazing.
People can argue the merits, the pros and cons, but it all boils down to one fundamental- there is already a mechanism in place to bring about reform, and that mechanism is called DEMOCRACY. What the government suggests is really an affront to free choice, ironic given the arguments for opening up the system. When the farmers actually elect pro-choice directors, then the debate is real and honest.