April 1997 Editorial

Enter Stage Gabbing...

Only Canadians Would Vote Their Rights Away

In one of the more disappointing turn of events, a majority of Western farmers who voted in a non-binding referendum decided to keep state control of barley sales.

Those farmers who voted for state control voted away their rights, but even worse voted away the rights of 37 per cent of their neighbours, people who wanted the choice of plying the free market.

A choice that Agriculture Minister Ralph Goodale is fighting with every inch of his power. In the course of this campaign Goodale has publicly stated the free market would not work, that dual-marketing would not work, pre-determined the outcome of the vote with the wording of the question, imprisoned farmers for selling their grain on the free market, changed the law to protect past and present Canada Wheat Board directors against legal action, and maintained a level of secrecy about CWB operations that would have made Soviets proud.

But Goodale isn't the biggest criminal in this story. It's the 63 per cent of farmers who decided that they had the right to enforce their will upon a minority.

Only in Canada can we vote away our rights. Only in Canada would citizens stand and watch a government persecute farmers for practicing freedom, which is what capitalism is. Only in this country would we jail someone for selling the efforts of their own production.

Farmer Andy McMechan was jailed for a total of 155 days in jail and 47 in court. He was subjected to more than 50 body searches in prison. He faces tens of thousands of dollars in fines as well as the loss of his farm due to the financial harm that he and his family experienced. Other farmers are currently in jail for the same crimes and yet still more will be sent to jail after a convoy takes place in the coming months. How did those farmers repay a debt? By voting away the right to free trade and association for farmers in certain areas of the prairies.

The only embarrassment to Goodale and the federal government is that 37 per cent did vote for the end of state control over barley sales, after a poll released by the government showed that only 3 per cent supported it.

And there are a few things that the government should take notice of:

First, the situation cannot continue while a large block of producers and marketers are opposed to the current system. The government will realize, sooner or later, that farmers will no longer be denied their freedoms.

Second, full-time and commercial farmers voted overwhelmingly for a free market approach to grain. Money talks and these farmers represent a commercial consensus for free trade.

Third, polls have consistently shown that younger farmers support free markets far more than their older counterparts. The end of the Canada Wheat Board is already written.

While the future for the end of statist control looks promising, we must remember that in the present, a majority has denied a minority their rights. With the full support of the socialist National Farmers Union, The federal government will continue to persecute a minority for exercising their freedoms as human beings.

And all with the support of their neighbours. Only in Canada.

Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men, generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to put out its faults, and do better than it would have them? Why does it always crucify Christ and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels?

- Henry David Thoreau, Resistance to Civil Government/On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, 1849

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