Canadian Wheat BoardPublished on 17 November 2011 Hansard and Statements by Senator Tommy Banks (retired)
Hon. Tommy Banks:
Honourable senators, the minister mentioned Ontario farmers. Many senators on this side have been cautioning Ontario farmers who are operating in a system called supply management that this effort to disembowel the Wheat Board is the beginning of the end for supply management. After saying that for months, if not years, according to the headlines of yesterday it is coming true.
The minister used the word ‘skewed’ when she referred to the results of the plebiscite held by the Canadian Wheat Board. At one point Minister Strahl tried to skew the Wheat Board by disenfranchising numbers of Western grain farmers from voting, and it had exactly the opposite effect of what was clearly intended.
The Canadian Wheat Board operates under the legislation that exists today, and will until and unless we pass the ill-advised bill that we expect will be coming to us. The Wheat Board is run by farmers. The majority of its directors are elected by farmers and over 80 per cent of them have consistently been in favour of the single-desk marketing option.
We have not yet received the new legislation and therefore we cannot be sure what it will say when it comes out of the other place, but under its present provisions, as I understand them, the government will appoint all the directors of the Canadian Wheat Board, as well as its chairman.
The Canadian Wheat Board has about $200 million in a contingency fund and owns a considerable amount of real estate in Winnipeg.
The government is taking over farmers’ assets. What is democratic about that, when farmers have clearly voted that they did not want that to happen?