Yesterday’s Tyee article by Horner and Orchard provides a good historical overview of the Wheat Board, but does not mention the recent plebiscite based on which the Conservatives propose to remove the Board’s barley monopoly. It is worth explaining why this flawed plebiscite does not give the Conservatives much of a democratic mandate, rather than ignoring the plebiscite altogether.
Of 80,000 ballots sent to barley farmers, only 29,000 were returned. As I had suggested, none of the three ballot options received majority support (50%+1) among those who voted:
38% – maintain single-desk marketing for barley
14% – get the Board out of barley marketing
48% – have the Board market barley and allow others to do so
Also as predicted, the Conservatives have added the votes for options 2 and 3 together to manufacture a mandate for ending single-desk marketing of barley. Of course, leaving out the misleading “compromise” option, nearly three times as many barley farmers voted to maintain single-desk marketing as voted to eliminate it.