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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

It’s another cool and cloudy morning in southern Saskatchewan. Where has our traditional warm and sunny July gone to? A lot of crops across this province need some sunshine and heat to make sure a good maturity happens before Jack Frost comes. Hopefully we will get that sunshine this coming week.

Speaking of somebody getting their parade rained on….our poll watching Premier went off to the Premier’s Conference this last week and the other mostly female Premiers paid not the least bit of attention to Mr. Wall’s “abolish the Senate” campaign and politely told him to pay attention to the really important issues facing Canadians today. And that is – economics and taking on the Prime Minister’s jobs agenda.

I’m sure that the other Premiers have read the same polling results as Mr. Wall did but they know that abolishing the Senate is not something that can happen before the next election and that in the long run, it may not be a smart move as Canada needs an institution which can be an effective counter-balance to the power of the PMO. The current Prime Minister has only met with the Premiers once in the last six years. So Mr. Wall’s argument that the Premiers provide the counter-balance to the power of the PMO is only wishful thinking. An equal effective elected Senate could be that balance that the Canadian confederation needs. That will take hard work and years of dedication by constructive-minded Canadians not poll chasers like Mr. Wall.

As I mentioned in my commentary two weeks ago, I would be attending APAS’s semi-annual meeting as my RM’s representative. There was two good days of discussion surrounding major policy areas for agriculture and rural Saskatchewan. One of the presentations that was of particular interest was the one made by Elwin Hermanson, Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Grain Commission.

As I think most of you are aware, Mr. Hermanson is a political appointee of the current Federal Minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz. As part of the move to eliminate the single desk (CWB) has been the so-called modernization and reform of the Canadian Grain Commission. Mr. Hermanson came to tell APAS delegates about that reform package. A big part of this package is the move to move the funding of the Canadian Grain Commission from a 50/50 split between government and the industry to a 90/10 split. Really what this means is that the primary producer of grain will be paying considerably more as all of the costs will be passed down from grain companies and others to the farmer.

One thing that I have been waiting to hear about was whether container shipping grain and other agricultural products would pay the Canadian Grain Commission fees. Mr. Hermanson informed us that they did not. I then asked the question of Mr. Hermanson that if for instance the Saskatchewan farmland now being bought up by communist Chinese interests, could take the production off of the land they have purchased and direct that production of grain to shipping containers and ship that raw grain back to China and other places without paying any of the fees that the rest of us are expected to pay.

After some hesitation, Mr. Hermanson said that “yes indeed” that was the case. So the whole premise behind the Canadian Grain Commission is that Canadian grain will be inspected to maintain high quality, precise grading perimeters and will not have grains from unlicensed varieties mixed into Canadian grain so that our good reputation amongst our many international buyers will be maintained. That is why farmers are expected to pay for this privilege and pay a lot more in the future. The fact that there are potentially tens of thousands of empty containers which are mostly controlled by Chinese shipping companies doesn’t seem to have entered into Mr. Ritz’s thought process. These containers could be filled with Canadian agricultural products and simply circumvent our entire quality control system and there is not a damn thing anybody can do about it.

Some of us will pay and some won’t. Tell me the wisdom in designing a system like that. Once again, the ideologically driven quest to get rid of the CWB in a hurry instead of doing it in a well-thought out process means that our system and our reputation can be left open to abuse. Go figure!

Your feedback is welcome on anything you see in the Monday Morning Commentary. Please send your comments to contact @pcsask.ca. If you know of anyone that would be interested in receiving this by email, please forward me their email address. Also – don’t forget to check out our website at pcsask.ca.

These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.

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