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Wednesday, December 11 2019 @ 01:03 MST

Wheat Board Question Announced

Jason ramblingIn an announcement today, federal Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl has announced the three choices barley producers will have in the upcoming plebiscite on the future of the Canadian Wheat Board. Note, at the time of writing this post, the link to the announcement doesn't show anything, I heard the announcement on the radio. The interesting thing is the three choices. They seem like the choices I'd pick if I wanted any changes to the CWB to fail.

Choice one is the status quo, to keep the CWB monopoly. This was the choice of nearly 70% of farmers in a plebiscite in Manitoba and the one likely to win.

Choice two is to eliminate the CWB completely. Though popular in some parts of southern Alberta, it's not likely to gain much support outside of this area.

Choice three is to have a mixed system where farmers can choose to either market to the CWB or to whoever else they wish. I suspect this is what the Harper government wants if it can't get choice two. It's also more likely to get support then choice two so hence it's inclusion on the ballot.

I think the questions were picked on the Tory belief that choice three will be the choice of the plurality of farmers. This means they don't need 50% of the vote for that choice, only more farmers picking that choice than the others. Harper knows that if he only had choices one and two that there's no way that a majority of farmers would opt for choice two, so he's trying to hedge his bets on a more "moderate" choice three. The problem is that the debate on the CWB has become polarized, mostly through the actions of the Tories, so that all that choice three will likely do is split the anti-CWB vote. Which is the curious aspect of this. Given the recent vote in Manitoba, choice one is likely to come out on top. By giving the anti-CWB forces a choice of two, there isn't a hope of either of them gaining enough support to overcome the pro-CWB vote.

Perhaps this is intentional. The Manitoba vote showed the federal Tories that there is still overwhelming support for the CWB. By setting the vote in such a way that it would be difficult for the anti-CWB forces to win, the government is looking for a way to save face. After all, they were blustering away about how they were going to do away with the CWB. When someone clued them in that this would probably cost them votes in the prairies, they had to scramble to find a way out that wouldn't look like a flip-flop to their core supporters. So rig the question (after all, they tried to rig the vote). If they set the question so the anti-CWB vote is split, the problem goes away.

The other way they could be looking at this is that a vast majority of farmers would vote against eliminating the CWB. Harper may be thinking that if he waters the CWB down, he'll get enough farmers on side to get enough votes to pass the pro-CWB votes. The problem with this thinking is the Tories have spent so much time the past year polarizing the debate about the CWB that there's not likely many farmers left to vote for this third choice. I would hope that Harper isn't so politically naive that this is his reasoning, but I could be wrong. Tories are notorious for their black and white thinking patterns and this interpretation would fit that model better.

We shall see what the outcome is, but with these options I think the Wheat Board is here for a while yet.

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Wheat Board Question Announced
Authored by: Anonymous onWednesday, March 28 2007 @ 12:02 MDT
Guess u were wrong