Wednesday, January 17, 2007

An effective investment

Scott and Robert posted yesterday about the strong show of support for the Canadian Wheat Board in a Manitoba plebiscite. But it appears that the poll has had more than just a symbolic effect, as its release was followed in short order by Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl finally declaring that the Cons won't eliminate the CWB's single-desk status for wheat without a full vote:
After months of refusing to promise farmers a vote on the future of the Canadian Wheat Board's wheat monopoly, federal Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl has promised a second plebiscite...

In a statement Tuesday that caught the farm community off-guard, Strahl confirmed a further plebiscite on wheat marketing will be held at an "appropriate time."

"Western Canadian farmers have the government's commitment that no changes will be made in the Canadian Wheat Board's role in the marketing of wheat until after that vote is held," Strahl said.
Of course, there are concerns about how any Con-run vote will be worded and administered. And in fact a spokesman for Strahl hinted at how the Cons would try to twist their own wording, attempting to downplay the Manitoba plebiscite by claiming its question should have included a claim that the CWB would continue to operate effectively even without single-desk status.

But at the very least, the Manitoba vote has helped to provide some numbers which even the Cons can't ignore as to just how many farmers continue to support the CWB. And the more that reality forces the Cons to back off their plan to force wheat producers to play by the rules of American agribusiness, the better off rural Western Canada will be.

Update: Greg suggests the wording that the Cons would like to see applied.

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