Friday, July 22, 2011

Top ten reasons the CWB plebiscite will prove nothing

10. Ballots have been sent to deceased people.  The problem starts with permit books as the basis of the CWB voters list.  At times, permit books of deceased people are kept open until all accounts are settled.  I doubt there is an efficient means of vetting these out of the voting process, so they still go out. 

       I know an open market supporter who received a ballot for his deceased father.  Since he won’t be voting at all, you can be certain he won’t be voting for his father.  On the other hand, a single desk supporter, anxious to show support for the single desk, will more than likely submit a vote on his deceased father’s behalf as well as his own.

9.    Some people get multiple ballots.  I heard one story of a couple who farm 1,000 acres received a total of 6 ballots.  For the same reason as above, single desk supporters will vote with every ballot they can, and open marketers that don’t see the point, won’t vote with any ballot, regardless of how many they received.

8.    Some don’t get a ballot at all.  MNP says producers that didn’t get a ballot can get one by:

Securing confirmation from the 2011 CWB Plebiscite Coordinator that they made deliveries of wheat or barley to the CWB in 2006-07, 2007-08 or 2008-09, but did not have an active 2009-10 or 2010-11 permit book, or
Completing an “Application to Vote in the 2011 CWB Producer Plebiscite”.  Producers must provide support to confirm their eligibility, such as:

·         a statutory declaration witnessed by either a Commissioner for Oaths or a Notary Public, or
·         a copy of a grain delivery receipt or a cash purchase ticket from a licensed elevator or grain dealer that provides evidence of production in the 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10 or 2010-11 crop years. 
Single desk supporters deliver to the CWB and likely received a ballot.  If you haven’t been delivering to the CWB, you probably don’t support it and would need to apply for a ballot.  But those that don’t support the CWB aren’t likely to go to all this trouble just for a ballot in a meaningless plebiscite.  This leads to more single deskers voting than open marketers.

7.    Many open market producers are not going to vote at all.  Mostly because it is meaningless and will not accomplish anything.  This again means single desk supporters are more likely to vote than open marketers.

6.    Some producers have said they will be sending their ballots to Ag Minister Ritz or Prime Minister Harper.  Again, you can be sure that these won’t be single desk supporters. 

5.    The question doesn’t consider a voluntary CWB.  It’s clear to anybody not in a coma that the government is planning an open market and is willing to support a “voluntary CWB”.  To its credit, the CWB is now exploring options for a “voluntary CWB”.  On top of that, the CWB’s own producer surveys show the majority of farmers prefer the “voluntary CWB” option (dual market). 

But the “voluntary CWB” option is conspicuous by its absence on the ballot.  The CWB has failed to ask the question that will allow farmers to show support of their preferred market structure.  It’s like Tim Horton’s asking if you prefer tea or milk, then proclaiming that, based on its survey, most people prefer tea. (“Well, I drink coffee, but if that’s the question, I guess I’ll say tea.”)  Just imagine what would happen if it then dropped coffee and sold only tea!

4.    A vote on barley?  Really?!  The CWB producer survey shows the majority of farmers reject the single desk on barley – by a wide margin.  Allen Oberg says the CWB board will respect the results of the plebiscite; I just wonder why, when they haven’t respected the results of more than ten years of surveys.

3.    The CWB message is misleading.  Consider this statement from the CWB website:
“Producers will hold their own plebiscite on the future of the CWB...”
The plebiscite is not on the future of the CWB. Saying so creates the false impression that it’s important to participate if you support the CWB.

2.    Only wheat producers vote on wheat and only barley produces vote on barley.  This disenfranchises all those producers who stopped growing wheat (or barley) because they don’t support the CWB.  The CWB’s impact is felt by all producers, regardless of what they grow – CWB or non-CWB.  If you’re going to give farmers a vote, all producers deserve a vote. 

1.    This is a vote on personal property.  If you support the idea of the mandatory single desk you will see no problem with voting – because you have no problem with 60% of the producers out there telling the other 40% how to run their business.  But if you don’t support the idea of the single desk, you may very well find the whole process of others deciding on how you manage your own affairs, as repugnant.  If so, you’re not likely going to vote.

No matter how you slice it, whether intentional or not, this plebiscite is not unbiased and clearly favours the single desk.  Regardless that the results undoubtedly will show the majority of ballots show support for the single desk, it will not be a true reflection of the views of producers.  With so many problems with it, it couldn’t possibly.

So much is pointing to rejection of the process by the open market supporters, that we should expect participation to be low.  If so, regardless of the proportion voting in favour of the single desk, this alone should be seen as a rejection of the single desk.  But will the CWB see it that way?

This plebiscite is so fatally flawed its results will prove nothing.

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