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CWB balance of power unchanged

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Prairie farmers have voted to keep the same balance of support and opposition among Canadian Wheat Board directors, with eight of 15 still supporting the CWB’s current powers.

Following results announced December 7 by accounting firm Meyers Norris Penny (MNP), Jeff Nielsen of Olds joins Henry Vos of Fairview as one of the two elected directors favouring the end of the CWB’s sole jurisdiction for export and domestic food sales of wheat and barley.

Nielsen, an outspoken opponent of the single-desk marketing model, won handily in the first round of counting, drawing 1,494 of 2,379 first-place votes on the preferential ballot against Gerald Pilger of Ohaton. Nielsen will replace single-desk opponent Jim Chatenay of Red Deer on the board.

Four of the remaining five directors elected support the single desk.

After a campaign loaded with accusations of government interference and improper campaign tactics, along with the removal of spending limits for third-party interveners, voters returned the two incumbent directors who were eligible to run again and introduced three new faces.

The new directors take office for terms of four years starting Dec. 31, and will come to their first directors’ meeting at the CWB’s head office in Winnipeg Jan. 26-28.

Also elected were:

Bill Woods, who farms at Eston, Sask. and is a founding member and current director of the West Central Road and Rail producer car loading organization, in District 4 (east-central Alberta, west-central Saskatchewan). Woods will replace former chair Ken Ritter of Kindersley, who was ineligible to run again after serving two terms.

Cam Goff, treasurer of the Allan South Rural Water Utility and one of the proponents of a producer car loading site for his home community of Hanley, Sask., in District 6 (central Saskatchewan), replacing Ian McCreary of Bladworth, also ineligible to run again,

Rod Flaman, of Edenwold, Sask. in District 8 (south-central Saskatchewan).

Flaman has drawn the ire of single-desk opponents in past elections by first winning on a pro-deregulation platform, then becoming a single-desk supporter.

Bill Toews of Kane, Man., a director with Keystone Agricultural Producers in District 10 (southern Manitoba).

This election’s response rate sits at 52.8 per cent, beating the 2006 turnout of 51.5 per cent in the odd-numbered districts and the 2004 turnout of 32.7 per cent in the even-numbered districts. The original 2008 voters’ list named 30,530 eligible voters, followed by 714 more who applied for ballots, minus 40 cancelled ballots, plus 40 reissued ballots, for a total of 31,244.

Conservative government-appointed directors, David Carefoot, Glen Findlay, Bruce Johnson and Ken Motiuk all support backing deregulation of Prairie wheat and barley marketing. CWB CEO Ian White, the 15th board member, was also appointed by the Conservative government.

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