Friday, January 22, 2010

Our Dictator and His American Interest Groups Score Victory Over Canadian Farmers

Since his days with the National Citizens Coalition, Stephen Harper has been gunning for the Canadian Wheat Board. With Gestapo like tactics, he has used every dirty trick in the book, to help out American corporate interests.

And what we have to remember, is that public health care is also in his cross hairs, and when you see how doggedly he has fought this Canadian institution, we can only imagine what he'll do to the Canada Health Act.

One of his MPs has already launched lawsuits against it, and has been behind attack ads running in the US against President Obama's health care plan.

Harper was interviewed by ABC news about the Canadian system and he said he didn't really know too much about it. Can you imagine? The Canadian Prime Minister suggesting that he doesn't know anything about the Canada Health Act?

Of course, it was a lie, because given the number of times he has fought against medicare, he probably knows it inside and out.

It's interesting that Tommy Douglas was named the Greatest Canadian because he gave us public health care, and yet Stephen Harper is determined to take it away. Another interesting side note here, is that Stockwell Day's dad ran against Tommy Douglas as a Social Credit candidate, and called the system a socialist plot.

The times they are a changin'.

Supreme Court allows muzzle on wheat board
By: Mia Rabson
January 22, 2010

OTTAWA -- A federal government directive preventing the Canadian Wheat Board from pushing a pro-monopoly stance will stand after a Supreme Court of Canada denied the board leave to appeal Thursday.It ended a battle of more than three years between Ottawa and the Winnipeg-based grain marketing agency over a federally imposed order that all wheat board communications should reflect the government policy.

The current policy of the federal Conservative government is to eliminate the wheat board's monopoly on prairie wheat and barley sales, and allow farmers to choose where to sell their grain.

"Certainly it's disappointing but we have to accept the fact," said wheat board chair Larry Hill.

The court does not give reasons when it denies leave to appeal. It dismissed the case with costs, though what financial hit that will put on the wheat board is yet unknown. The original directive order the wheat board to clam up came in October 2006. In June 2008, a federal judge struck down the directive at the request of the wheat board. The judge said it contravened the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

But a federal appeals court subsequently overturned the ruling, saying the board was the creation of a federal statute and therefore it had no rights or freedoms beyond those laid out in the statute.

The Supreme Court finally put the issue to rest Thursday by deciding not to hear the appeal. Hill said he was surprised the court wouldn't hear the case, and said it will mean the board has to check with lawyers before it puts out communications to make sure it's abiding by the directive.

Spokespeople for Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz were unavailable yesterday. The Conservative government and the wheat board have been at war since the Conservatives took office on a platform that included eliminating the board's monopoly. Numerous court cases have resulted.

The wheat board won one of them when the courts said Ottawa could only eliminate the monopoly through legislation, not by cabinet decree as the government originally tried to do.

Legislation to open up barley sales was introduced in 2008 but was never raised for debate and died on the order paper when Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the 2008 election. It has not been reintroduced.

Manitoba NDP MP Pat Martin said he wouldn't be surprised if Thursday's court decision propelled that legislation back to the table. "I'm worried this court decision may motivate them to regroup and come at it again," said Martin. "They will see this as a big victory."

Martin plans to combat the Harper policy on the wheat board with a private member's bill to expand the powers of the wheat board's elected board.

Among other things, the legislation would increase the number of board members who are elected rather than appointed by Ottawa. "It would put the power back into the hands of farmers," said Martin.

The bill would have been introduced next week but due to Harper's decision to prorogue, Martin will now have to wait until Parliament reconvenes in March.

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