Letters To The Editor – for Jan. 4, 2010

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Should organization donations go to only one party?

I also “wonder about the politics surrounding the recent donations to the PC Party by the milk and turkey producers” as noted in your editorial (AF December 7), but for different reasons.

The first question that comes to mind is how was the decision to make these donations made? Are all milk and turkey producers supporters of the PC Party? Are they even aware this donation occurred? In a democracy it is expected that the party forming the government becomes the government for everyone; even for those who may have voted for another party. Shouldn’t a group’s support then go to all parties?

In Third-World countries making donations to only the current ruling party is called buying influence. How are the donations by the milk and turkey producers not the same thing? What would happen (and I realize that in Alberta this is totally hypothetical) if another party came to power? Would they be tempted to punish those who supported only the former ruling party?

This brings us to the question of the day. Shouldn’t all government decisions be based on what is best for the province, country, or industry but not on who contributed most to the party? I believe that kind of government is called statesmanship and it seems we could use a lot more of that type of governance.

I am disappointed in the turkey and milk producers and I hope they reconsider their decision. On the other hand they can just call me naive. Horst Schreiber Ohaton

Elected officials must be aware of the issues

As you mentioned in your editorial, “Ag politics in Alberta are interesting as usual,” (Dec. 7) Alberta’s Opposition Leader has indeed missed the point. Dr. Swann saw us in the PC party AGM sponsor list and searched for provincial funding of Alberta Milk projects in order to find some scandal. We have never been approached by Dr. Swann or anyone on his staff to ask about our decision to sponsor a PC event. We have never been asked about supply management, our funding sources or about agriculture issues in general. Instead, misrepresentation for political gain seems to be the order of the day.

Alberta Milk does not receive a dime in operational funding from any government. Alberta’s dairy producers pay a few cents per litre of milk sold to support Alberta Milk’s efforts. Any taxpayer funds we receive are based on proposals for very specific activities, and are carefully accounted for. Examples of these projects include increased food safety systems and curriculum-based nutrition resources. Any funds not used for these projects are returned to the funding agency.

Producer funds provide milk hauling and quality testing, support environmental and animal welfare standards, promote milk and nutrition education, and increase awareness of our marketing system. Alberta Milk wants to preserve milk production in Alberta. Supply management, which defends our producers’ livelihoods, is threatened by several international and interprovincial agreements. We ensure that our elected officials are aware of the stakes, and one way is to be present at official events held by the ruling party.

Alberta Milk refuses to become a partisan tool to bludgeon the provincial government. We encourage both the Stelmach government and Minister Groeneveld to defend supply management, dairy producers and one-fifth of farm gate income in Alberta at the WTO, the Canada-EU negotiations and the Agreement on Internal Trade.

Hennie Bos, Chairman Alberta Milk

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