Friends of the Canadian Wheat Bo

Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board

--a coalition of farmers and other Canadian in support of democracy and a farmer-controlled CWB

April 20, 2010

"Great News for Farmers and Taxpayers," say Prairie Farm Groups

Swift Current, SK, April 16, 2010; The Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board (FCWB), the National Farmers Union (NFU), and Real Voice for Choice (RV4C) today issued a joint statement publicly thanking NDP Leader Jack Layton for pledging to recommend that MPs in his caucus not use taxpayers' money to campaign in upcoming Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) director elections.

 “This is great news for farmers and taxpayers,” said Messrs. Wells, Boehm and Bohdanovich, spokespersons for their respective organizations.  

On March 3rd, 2010, the three pro-CWB farm groups sent a joint letter to all four federal Party leaders requesting that they sign the following statement:

“I will recommend to all MPs in my caucus that they not use taxpayer money to campaign, or contribute to any campaigns, in upcoming Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) Director elections.”

During the 2008 elections at least 9000 letters were sent directly to farmer-voters by Conservative MPs using office time, postage, and supplies paid for by Canadian taxpayers.  The letters were very specific and instructed farmers how to vote for anti-CWB candidates.  After a thorough examination of the subject, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police defined this activity as “campaigning”.  A letter from the RCMP Regina Border Integrity Section dated March 19, 2009, states: “The fact that the letters were sent in support of individual candidates would constitute campaigning.”

"Concerned citizens simply cannot allow Members of Parliament to use taxpayers' dollars to campaign on behalf of their friends—period.  (One of the beneficiaries of the taxpayer campaign funds was even sitting on the National Council of the Conservative Party at the time.)  The precedent of taxpayer abuse set by Conservative MPs cannot be allowed to stand,” said Stewart Wells, an organic producer from Swift Current, SK.

“To make a bad situation even worse, the Conservative MPs broke CWB election rules by refusing to register as third party intervenors and by refusing to reveal the amount of taxpayer money that was used to campaign for their anti-CWB 'friends'," said Terry Boehm, President of the NFU and a farmer at Allan, Sask.  "Their actions show the Harper Conservative mindset; that public office is not a special trust—but rather it's something to be taken advantage of.”

“After a general election is called, it is well-known that MPs are prohibited by federal law from using taxpayers' money to campaign on their own behalf or on behalf of other candidates.  By the same token, it is not appropriate for MPs to spend taxpayers' money to campaign on behalf of candidates in civic elections, school board elections, farm organization elections, or any other properly constituted arms-length democratic election in Canada.  The precedent set by the Conservative MPs who used taxpayers' money to campaign in CWB elections opens up all other elections to the same abuse of power,” said Larry Bohdanovich, chair of RV4C and a farmer from Grandview, MB.  “We are hopeful that all Party Leaders will commit to the pledge that Mr. Layton has signed this week.”


 Stewart Wells—306-773-6852, cell 306-741-7694

Terry Boehm—306-255-2880

 Larry Bohdanovich—204-546-3154, cell 204-638-1893