Friday, February 16, 2007

Fox In The Henhouse

The more Chuck Strahl speaks about his assault on the Wheat Board, the more disturbing the rhetoric:
But the barley plebiscite has already been plagued with controversy.
Wheat board supporters have railed against the fact the plebiscite gives farmers three choices: to maintain the board's monopoly, to scrap the board's role as a barley marketer, or to allow the board to be an active participant in a free market.

The wheat board has said the ballot gives farmers a false impression that the board can survive without its monopoly in the face of competition from large multinational grain companies.

But Strahl reiterated Friday that he believes the wheat board can remain viable and wants it to be one of the options that farmers have to sell their barley.

The minister also continued to be vague on what percentage of the vote he would require to move ahead with wheat board reforms, saying the plebiscite was a non-binding way to provide advice.

"The data will be available to anyone but it's up to me to say what this advice means."

The three options Strahl has inserted clearly attempts to cloud the issue and solicite a desirable response- a clever tactic to prevent a majority. What is particularly alarming, Strahl now says he will interpret the results. The clear implication, if there is anyway that Strahl can reasonably spin the results, he will. The fact Strahl played with a clear question, speaks to the fact that he knew a majority would not choose to opt out of the wheat board. Offering a third option, which is essentially a have it both ways response, plays mischief with the core issue. Chuck Strahl will decide what the results mean, which is akin to the fox in the henhouse deciding what to do with the chickens. This plebicite is being comprised by people with a clear agenda.


Anonymous said...

Canadian Wheat Board is history. It doesn't matter what farmers want or what trading partners say the Conservatives want it gone. So, one way or another, it's gone.

Soon, when Harper has his majority, more of what we've inherited will be treated in much the same way.

In a relentless duplicitous fog of misinformation, disinformation, and confusion, bit by bit Harper will engage in dismantling the "northern European socialist state" he has disparaged for so long.

I'm not fear mongering. I'm actually complimenting the guy for his single minded determination. And that of his followers...I think the term followers fits better than supporters. He needs no support. He's proven that time and time again.

Still, all in all, I'll miss the country I grew up in all the same.

Steve V said...

"In a relentless duplicitous fog of misinformation, disinformation, and confusion, bit by bit Harper will engage in dismantling the "northern European socialist state" he has disparaged for so long."

Agreed, and this example should alert people to the consequences of a majority. As an aside Dana, the good news, I have this theory that Harper has a political ceiling which makes a majority incredibly unlikely, unless the Liberals completely self-destruct. Canada ain't Bush country, well most of it anyway thank-god.

Anonymous said...

Steve, the Liberals don't even need to self-destruct. There will be enough splitting of the anti-Harper vote to give it to him. The anti-Harper vote will still be larger than the pro but as I said before Harper doesn't concern himself much about whether he's supported or not. He knows he's right and he's going to by god get on with it.

Wait for the budget. Self-interest will kick in big time. Most voters won't care or notice that it starts the slide back toward Mulroney deficits. I mean let's face it, we represent a significant minority of people in the country who pay this kind of obsessive attention to all this shit. Most see a headline in a CanWest paper or a sound bite on a Global or CTV news broadcast and think no further.

It won't matter or occur to them that there will have to huge new debts incurred to fulfil O'Connor and Hillier's martial fantasies. Many will think it's a grand idea to engage the world as though we were an extension of US foreign policy - hell, many think that now but they ain't seen nuthin' yet.

The mainstream media won't harp on any of it very loudly, just as they haven't on the personal tax increases or the single bid military contracts or the creation of the Public Prosecutor and on and on.

I don't know what Canada will look like or be like when he's done with it. The nearest I can come to even a rough prediction is maybe the early to mid '50's but with a much, much larger disparity between the high and low end of the income scale.

Steve V said...

"There will be enough splitting of the anti-Harper vote to give it to him"

Good point, I worry about that too. You're right about the budget and deficits, I've already heard some rumblings from fiscal conservatives that Harper is spending like a "liberal". It was really rich to hear Flaherty chastizing the Ontario Liberals about "getting their fiscal house" in order, when in fact the Conservatives cooked the books prior to the election, and then left a huge deficit for their successors.

SDC said...

If the Liberals are so concerned about the CWB, why don't you insist that ALL farmers (not just Western farmers) be bound to sell their grain through it? As it is, we've got a major double-standard here, with Eastern farmers free to sell to whoever will give them the best price, but Western farmers forced to sell to the CWB under the threat of law.

Anonymous said...

Yup. Come across any references to Flaherty's Ontario fiscal record in major media have you? Other than the Star me neither.

I keep wondering about Layton's brain function.

Too much acid? Not enough?

The man's delusions are astonishing.

Together the Liberal Party of Canada and the NDP/CCF have a history of all of the best social legislation that has ever happened.

But Jack wants to fiddle with the most right wing government we've ever had and abandon the historical relationship with the Liberals.

It'll at least be fun to watch him writhe with righteous indignation once Harper gets his agenda underway.

The other thing I wonder about is some of the old traditional Progressive Conservative types in the benches right now.

They're going to get pretty uncomfortable at some point.

Steve V said...

" why don't you insist that ALL farmers (not just Western farmers) be bound to sell their grain through it?"

Or, how about this novel idea. Ask farmers a direct question, majority wins. Sounds like democracy to me, as opposed to twisting everything to fit an ideological starting point. What Strahl has done with regard to the Wheat Board is embarrassing. Don't believe me, ask foreign buyers, just look for the guys shaking their heads. Matter of fact, it seems all foreigners are shaking their heads, outside of D.C.

Steve V said...


One caveat, I don't think Canadians want to see a Harper majority. If the polls trend that way during the campaign, some soft left support might park their votes with the Liberals, it's happened before. The key is Dion, if he looks credible, I really don't see a majority in the cards. In all honesty, Harper should be much higher in the polls now, given the friendly landscape.

Anonymous said...

free market sales.......ooohhhhh......scary stuff

booga booga

Anonymous said...

Harpers headed to a majority faster than you can say:

"Dion's a near incomprehensible far left academic"

ottlib said...


Too bad you do not have the same opinion about a free market in carbon credits. I guess you only believe in free markets for some things.

I would not write off the CWB just yet. It takes awhile to dismantle a longstanding institution like the CWB. Mr. Harper may not have that time.

As for the split on the left we have seen this before.

The Conservatives have always enjoyed the exclusive position on the right in this country. That was true of the PCPC. Nothing has changed except the PCPC could count on hard core support in the low-30s most of the time. The same cannot be said of the CPC.

As well, when the time comes that progressives have had enough of Mr. Harper they will move to the Liberals because they are the only party that can beat them.

The NDP hit a high water mark in 1984, after having gained increased support in the previous two elections. Then in 1988 that support fell off intil it finally collapsed in 1993.

We are probably seeing the same dynamic at play here. They have hit another high water mark and I expect we will see their support fade in the next couple of elections. If they are lucky they will get rid of Mr. Layton before he finally leads that party into the ground.

In the meantime the Conservatives are not in a good position. They are stuck in the mud and the only thing they have coming down the pipe that might give them a boost is the budget. Unfortunately, they have a short shelf life and they are never the vote getters that a sitting government hopes for.

Monkey Loves to Fight said...

I am all for allowing a dual marketing system, the second option since Ontario has such a system, which can work. However, to ensure there is a majority, if no choice gets above 50%, farmers should have to mark their second choice so they can go to an instant run-off.

Another option is to let those opposed to the Wheat Board, opt out under the condition they never ever use it again. Otherwise they don't sell on the open market when the prices are high, but go back to the Wheat Board when they fall. At least that would end the debate about farmers being forced to sell through the Wheat Board, while at the same time not undermining it.

Anonymous said...

If ego Jack would agree to a temporary coalition - enough time to get rid of Harper he's be doing a "Tommy Douglas" wouldn't he?

Layton ain't no Tommy Douglas. Douglas would roll over in his grave if he saw what Layton was doing to his party.

Shame, shame, shame.

And Layton claims he working in the interests of Canada - ya by letter Harper manipulate him and his principles.

I don't understand why the NDP caucus don't straighten Layton out.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that Austrilia's PM Howard have told the U.S. to go rub salt.

The U.S. is pressuring Howard to dismantle Australia's wheat board - but Howard says no and that the U.S. isn't going to control them.

Hmmm - and this is one of Harper's favourite people.

Harper is giving into U.S. pressure AGAIN

canuckistanian said...

three choices, two support the gov't's preferred alternative...sound rigged??? yup!

hey sdc:
you know how much wheat is farmed east of manitoba??? duh! i believe that is called a red herring.

Monkey Loves to Fight said...

Another option might be to consider taking Alberta out of the Wheat Board area while leaving it for Saskatchewan and Manitoba since it seems most farmers in Alberta don't like it while most do want to keep it in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

It really comes down to the values of the provinces in many ways. Saskatchewan and Manitoba were the birthplaces of the NDP and the idea that we are stronger together than apart is still very popular. On the other hand Alberta has always believed in rugged individualism to a far greater degree than anywhere else in Canada so no surprise the Wheat Board is unpopular in that province. While this would weaken the board, at least it would shut up a lot of the opponents and maybe bring some stability in the long-run.