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Ottawa Stealing From Farmers?

Minister Gerry Ritz selling wheat board assetts with no compensation for farmers who paid into it.

by Canadian Wheat Board Alliance

Gerry Ritz became Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food in July of 2013. One of his jobs was to finish the dismantling of the Canadian Wheat Board, after Harper had forced the end to the single desk monopoly despite a strong vote against it by farmers. The Canadian Wheat Board headquarters was sold recently by the Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food, with no compensation for farmers whose fees had paid for the building. 

The following statement is from The Canadian Wheat Board Alliance: 

December 31, 2013)  This month Minister Ritz continued to claim western farmers were being frivolous to expect compensation for the assets of the Canadian Wheat Board they bought and paid for.  Who does he think he is fooling?  Certainly not farmers.

It was fifty years ago that the Canadian Wheat Board moved into its new building at 425 Main in downtown Winnipeg.  At the time the CWB reported an allocation of a little over $3 million for the completion of the new CWB building along with almost $300 thousand dollars on its balance sheet for the value of the original CWB lot and building.

These numbers from the audited statement are notable because the money was allocated from the pool accounts.  In other words, farmers were investing a portion of their grain sales to house their staff, rather than spend the money on renting facilities.  A decision endorsed by the farmer advisory committee to the CWB.

According to the Bank of Canada, those 1963 dollars translate to about $68 million dollars today.  Of course that does not include improvements to the building over the years, again paid for by farmers, not to mention its much higher commercial real estate value.

In spite of these facts, and the fact that ever since it was created in 1935 the operations and assets of the Wheat Board have been paid for from farmers’ grain sales, Agriculture Minister Ritz still claims farmers have no ownership of the assets of the Canadian Wheat Board.  Like so many politicians, he apparently believes that if you repeat something often enough, people will believe it.

However, most fair minded people understand that paying for something, whether it is a downtown office building or a pack of gum, gives ownership to those supplying the money.  It would seem Minister Ritz and the Prime Minister do not understand that getting themselves elected did not give Ottawa the right to steal from farmers.

But hey, they apparently are not even sure how their cronies in the Senate and elsewhere should fill in expense accounts, so perhaps we should not be surprised they cannot understand why western farmers took them to court for stealing the Wheat Board western farmers bought and paid for.  I hope farmers keep their resolve to take back what is theirs.

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