|The chatting and filling out of forms appears to be the easy part of this session. A few moments later RN Raegan McGillivray (left) made a point to immunize Andy Wirachowksy of Bodo as ’flu clinics got underway in the area. Alberta Health Services says that people at least six months old should get the vaccine to help ward off sickness. An estimated 20,000 hospitalizations and between 4,000 and 8,000 deaths in Canada are attributed to influenza annually. Not all people should take the vaccine however—like as those who may have a history of a severe allergic reaction to it. This clinic was held on Thursday at the Provincial Building and attracted close to 300 people between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. More clinics are planned in the region. ©Provost News Photo.
Ending Wheat Board Monopoly a ‘Rights Issue’—MP
• Legislation Expected by Christmas
• Protests Taking Place
The federal government is using its majority in Ottawa to take the compulsion out of farmers using the Canadian Wheat Board to market their grain in Western Canada.
MP for this constituency, Leon Benoit says he’s been fighting for this change the last 40 years beginning with a university course that he took about monopolies.
But not everyone is convinced.
The current chair of the CWB and fellow-Albertan Allan Oberg who farms south west of Provost at Forestburg, Alberta is arguing against the change—as is the National Farmers’ Union.
A wheat board plebiscite organized this summer showed 62 per cent of wheat farmers voted to keep the single desk monopoly sales, while 51 per cent of barley producers did.
Benoit, who spoke to The News from his Ottawa office, says “I didn’t bother voting.” The government had already indicated what they would do, he pointed out. “It’s just stupid (the vote). It’s my money (as a producer) spent on a useless plebiscite.”
Benoit owns 3,000 acres of seeded farmland in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
“Even if 90 percent voted to keep it (the CWB), it would not be right. They (farmers) should be able to market their grain as they see fit in a democratic country. That is the bottom line. It’s a rights issue. The monopoly should have ended at the end of the war and so we are doing it now. It’s quite disturbing it held on that long.”
Benoit said that the board was first organized in the early 1920s under the Co-operative Act. The group started as a voluntary organization, and he said it was only under the War Measures act in 1943 when the monopoly was invoked to get cheap grain for the war effort “which made sense”. The MP says that the farmers didn’t like the situation, and they got less than market prices but they understood it was for the war effort.
The monopoly he said was technically in place across the country but not enforced in later years. Benoit says the act was changed in the 1990s and Ontario farmers were not compelled to participate while western Canadian farmers were.
Rest of story in October 26 edition of The Provost News.
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