Statement made on 17 November 2011 by Senator Frank Mahovlich (retired)
Hon. Francis William Mahovlich:
Honourable senators, this year the Canadian Wheat Board is celebrating its seventy-sixth year in existence. This could very well represent three generations of hard-working Canadian wheat and barley farmers.
The Canadian Wheat Board's role is to represent the thousands of Western Canadian farmers in the selling of their wheat and barley to help to get a fair price for everyone. The collective bargaining power they have gives many farmers a much better price than they would be able to get if they were to sell it on an individual basis.
They are also able to market it on a much broader scale than a single farmer would be able to do on his own. The Canadian government, however, has decided to do away with the Canadian Wheat Board. Worse still, they have decided to get rid of the Canadian Wheat Board in a very hostile way. Section 47.1 of the Canadian Wheat Board Act states that the producers of the grain must vote on any major changes that affect the Canadian Wheat Board. The government has so far refused. The farmers therefore took it upon themselves to hold a plebiscite on whether or not to get rid of the Canadian Wheat Board.
The results are clear: 51 per cent of barley farmers and 62 per cent of wheat farmers voted in favour of keeping the institution.
I have met with dozens of farmers on this matter here in Ottawa and my office has received hundreds of emails and faxes from across the country from people who do not feel this is the right thing for Canada.
Senator Di Nino and I graduated from St. Michael's College many years ago. They taught us the same thing that Senator Demers taught his students in the National Hockey League: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Mahovlich: Since a clear majority of farmers want to keep the Canadian Wheat Board in place, why is it the Canadian government is so intent on going against their wishes by destroying it and doing so in such an uncooperative way?
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