Farm Crisis - The Struggle Continues

Stewart Valley - December 9, 1999 By: Edwin Wallace

Saskatchewan's Legislative Assembly The one day gathering in Saskatchewan's Legislative Assembly during the past week to discuss the Farm Crisis served as a vehicle for veiled threats of illness, suicide, public violence, Western alienation/separation, and attacks on the Canadian Wheat Board! The request of a billion dollars for farm aid from the federal government was formalised by a unanimous vote of the house but that could have been and would have been accomplished in the absence of our "Farm Leaders".
catch the attention The hope of Mr. Romanow that such a so unusual gathering would catch the attention of the national media and thus the country was dashed. Miserable little issues like the media's natural lack of interest and other headlines did that. There was the amalgamation of Canada's airlines, the annual "National Day of Mourning", the bi-election in B.C. and even the fate of a Cuban boy in Florida.
representation to Committees of the Legislative Assembly Notwithstanding the desire for publicity, there was another way to hear from the farm. Citizens are able to make representation to Committees of the Legislative Assembly created from time to time to deal with specific issues. Such presentation must follow the rules of the Legislature. Committees of the Legislature do not make "Law". All Committee findings are taken back to the fully elected Legislative Assembly for deliberation. In that regard, the Legislative Assembly is the hallowed ground of a thing we call Representative Democracy.
"Political Expediency" The past week's "Dog and pony show" was a gross desecration of that ground and principle. An Email I received suggested that it was a great accomplishment in that it brought the politicians of all stripes together in a unanimous expression of concern in their request for that illusive billion dollars. Not so, the politicians, one and all, rode in on a horse called "Political Expediency".
rift between urbans and rurals
The whole episode might also be considered from the perspective of others in our society. This was brought home to me when I received a note from my son in Regina, concerned with care giving. He said the Open Assembly served to deepen the rift between urbans and rurals. He may be right. Who for example represents those trying to live on a grossly inadequate minimum wage and part time work? No special day for them in the Legislature. No Grand Poobah like the president of the Saskatchewan Wheat Corporation, salaried at about $ 1 million, to make their case. No sir!
farmers need help??? Be that as it may. It may also be the consensus that farmers need help. This, by the way, is not a proven fact by any legitimate measurement of public opinion. (A little Straw Poll I conduct daily on the Internet on a variety of subjects sent to what I consider a pretty good cross section fails to make that a clear fact.) But for the sake of making an argument for aid lets say it is so.
subsidy to off set international subsidies Then there is also a good argument that the federal and provincial governments have failed to distribute to primary agriculture production money that belongs to it. Let us also say that amount coupled to a one-year subsidy to off set international subsidies makes up a total of $1 billion. I tend to believe that is not an unreasonable assumption, and that amount, should be made immediately available. (This can't be a one shot deal with those international subsidies in place for the foreseeable future. So, in subsequent years, total payments would be something less than a billion, but paid as subsidy on marketed production.)
acreage based Now, the really thorny question; one that has always failed to get adequate consideration: How should $1 billion in immediate, short term, aid - be distributed? AIDA has been declared not only dead but also a swear word, so, in my opinion, the only fair way to do it is through acreage based payments BUT WITH A CAP. That cap would NOT allow payment on acreage above the average farm size in the province.

I'm Edwin

Edwin R. Wallace
Saskatchewan, Canada
Phone 306.626.3535 Fax 306.626.3535
ICQ #28174719