Prairie Labour Groups Defend Wheat Board as Parliament Votes

November 28, 2011

The leading labour groups from the Prairie provinces on November 28 united in calling on the Harper government to abandon its illegal and undemocratic plan to dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB).

“The Bill before Canada’s MPs right now has nothing to do about market freedom for farmers – it’s all about freedom for the Harper Conservative government’s corporate friends, at the expense of Canadian communities, families and working people,” said Manitoba Federation of Labour President Kevin Rebeck, spokesperson for 95,000 union members and their families in Manitoba.

The MFL, the Alberta Federation of Labour and the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour today issued a joint statement condemning the Harper government’s plan to dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board (Click here to read the full Statement).

“The government has ignored the law by refusing to hold a vote among farmers on the issue. The government is ignoring basic democratic principles by ignoring the CWB’s own vote in which a majority of farmers who voted, voted to keep the CWB in place,” said Rebeck.

“I’m proud that the government of Manitoba has been unwavering in its support of farm families, their communities and the thousands of working families who depend on the health of the Wheat Board. I am disappointed that the governments of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan are so willing to sell them out.”

The joint statement from the three Federations of Labour says “For more than 75 years, the CWB has worked successfully to help farmers negotiate on an equal footing with the buyers of their products, mainly large multi-national or US corporations. It has also helped small prairie farmers compete with larger corporate farm operations.

“Clearly, the CWB is working for the majority of farmers. The Tory government has not put forward a business case for its decision and it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to wrap up CWB operations. Prairie farmers and rural communities will lose out. Only large corporations and foreign corporate buyers will benefit.”

Rebeck said, “It’s obvious to me that the Harper government believes in a free market, but only when it benefits large corporations. It wants to destroy the ability of farmers to freely and collectively bargain to get the best price for their goods. It’s the same ideologically based attack that Harper has made on the rights of working people to collectively bargain to get a fair deal for their work at Air Canada and Canada Post.”

Rebeck added “Dairy and poultry farmers should know that they’ll be the next groups that the Harper government will sacrifice at the international trade negotiating table.”