Dec 8, 2011 by Lee Hart

Cell phone apps, CWB ruling, and Christmas


Grainews App works

A few months ago I was lamenting in this column that the
Grainews app you can download to have Grainews news, weather and sports on
your cell phone didn’t work on my Blackberry.

That complaint didn’t go over so well.

But, regardless I am happy to report that the Grainews app
does now work on my cell phone. So if you had trouble getting the app working
on your Blackberry, try again. The only link I can suggest is: http://agreader.ca/gn?ref=enews&AF=&utm_source=GRN&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EN12082011
. Click on it and see what happens and no doubt you can find it on our website
too at www.grainews.ca . If you’re still
having trouble, call me and I will be right over to fix it.

I checked the weather Thursday morning on my Grainews app
and it was -20 C at Springbank (just on the west side of the city). And the lead
news story is that the Harper government was elected with a majority…no body
said it would be current news, just news. (No, seriously there is current ag
news on the site). 

Anyway, just download the app and then I can be with you
24/7.

 

CWB court ruling

It was interesting to read Wednesday the Federal Court of
Canada has found the federal government, i.e. Ag Minister Gerry Ritz, in breach of the law
when he proceeded to change the Canadian Wheat Board Act without proper consultation with
Prairie farmers.

There is a lot of legal phrasing in this decision, but what
I read is that it is to some degree a matter of interpretation of the law, and
Judge Douglas Campbell, interpreted it as a breach.

The federal government says it will appeal the ruling, and
in the meantime proceed with plans to change the CWB Act to allow for an open
market — remove the CWB monopoly.

I am no lawyer and not even a farmer, but in my 25 years of
kicking around this industry, I believe there has been tons and tons of
consultation. If there is anyone out there today farming who was surprised by
the federal government’s decision to create an open market for Western Canadian
wheat and barley and feels their views haven’t been heard, then I really don’t
know where they have been.

There are two philosophical sides and arguments to this
issue and I feel they both have been heard time and time again.

Judge Campbell in part of his decision said: 

“Generally speaking, when advancing a significant
change to an established management scheme (changing the current CWB), the
failure to provide a meaningful opportunity for dissenting voices to be heard
and accommodated forces resort to legal means to have them heard. In the
present piece, simply pushing ahead without engaging such a process has
resulted in the present Applications (friends of the wheat board) being
launched. Had a meaningful consultative process been engaged to find a
solution, which meets the concerns of the majority, the present legal action
might not have been necessary. Judicial review serves an important function; in
the present Applications the voices have been heard, which, in my opinion, is
fundamentally importantly…”

Maybe this is the first time Judge Campbell has come
across the CWB issue, but my gut feeling is you could hold meeting after meeting
across Western Canada to solicit farmer input into CWB changes and at the end of
the day you would have one camp that wants change and one camp that is opposed
to it and probably a third camp that says “enough already, time to move on.”
Even if they had held formal hearings, which cost millions of dollars, would
these hearings have arrived at some compromise that would have made everyone
happy…I doubt it. There comes a time in many business and personal
relationships when all parties have to concede there are irreconcilable
differences. 

After hundreds of meetings, plebiscites, elections,
studies, countless stories, letters to the editors, and hours of coffee room
talk over many years, how can anyway argue there has been no consultation. What
possible argument or view is to be made that hasn’t already been heard? I am not saying Judge Campbell was wrong, but I
learned a long time ago the law — the courts — decide between what is legal and
illegal. The law doesn’t decide between what is right and wrong.

 

This is Christmas

I am always pleased when I hear people this time of year
extend the greeting “Merry Christmas” and it bugs the hell out of me, when I
see corporations, institutions, governments bend over backwards to avoid the “C” word, or even
forbidding people using anything but a “politically correct” term such as happy
holidays, because they don’t want to offend anyone.

This might be a losing battle, but I am a Canadian-born
WASP and the holiday we celebrate at this time of year, and have for more than
2000 years is Christmas. I know we are a cultural melting pot, but this is the
Christmas season with religious beliefs and commercial traditions that have
been engrained in our society for hundreds of years.

I don’t even know if immigrants who now make Canada home
are even opposed to the “Christmas” word and all its meanings, themselves. More
often than not I think it is a politician or a bureaucrat or a human resources
person who has nothing better to do than sit around and come up some weak-kneed
policy because it respects the sensitivities of our diverse culture, or
whatever. They are justifying their existence.

I have Jewish friends who celebrate Hanukkah. Muslim
friends who celebrate Ramadan. Ukrainian friends who aren’t sure when Christmas
is. Chinese friends who celebrate New Years later in January. And this is all
good. Observe your holidays and religious celebrations freely in Canada.  

To me if there is any cultural or religious group in
Canada that doesn’t want to celebrate Christmas because it is not part of their
culture or heritage, then don’t. No problem. Enjoy the day off and do whatever
you’d like to do. The rest of us are celebrating Christmas and if anyone
really, really doesn’t like this observance of a Christian holiday celebrated
around the world I am sure there are planes leaving every hour on the hour that
can get them to some other country where life is much better. We shouldn’t be
ashamed, afraid, or apologetic for celebrating a Canadian tradition. This is Canada and this is Christmas. 

Lee
Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary, Contact him at 403-592-1964 or
by email at
[email protected]

 

 

Lee Hart

Lee Hart


Lee Hart is a long-time farm writer, and honorary member of the Alberta Institute of Agrologists, with many observations on the agriculture industry, who never hesitates to admit he is wrong (should that ever happen.)


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