Saturday, January 21, 2006


Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free

Speaking from Sask. I would have to agree. A poll was taken and more than 65% of farmers in rural Canada will vote Conservative. NDP? It would be nice to feel inclusive thats all we have now we are operating below a net income and well below the poverty line. For example I have only paid federal income tax 2 years out of the last 20. We raised 2 sons who will not farm one in University the other finishes next year. On Monday we may have hope.

The comment above was posted on the CTV Election Blog and final pushed me to post a long planned comment on the rural / farm voter intention.

Farmers, like many other interest groups, have asked all parties to consider their issues and some parties have responded by including a mention or two about agriculture and farming in their discussions / platforms.

According to a January 18 IPSOS poll, farm economics are top-of-mind for farmers when considering the agriculture issues for Canada’s leaders to address. The number one issues facing the agriculture industry today that farmer’s feel should be addressed are low commodity prices and the price of farm inputs, mentioned by 39% of farmers, each. A quarter of farmers feel that low commodity prices are the top concern to be addressed while 14% feel the top issue is the price of farm inputs. Trade barriers and policies are the top issue for one in eight farmers (12%) and are mentioned as a top-of-mind issue for a quarter of farmers (24%). Government support and income stabilization is a top-of-mind issue for one in six farmers (16%).

Now, after reading the Conservative, Liberal, NDP and Green platforms, I am not sure why two-thirds's of rural Canadians would think the Conservatives will tackle agricultural priorities better than the others? This is a complex question and likely has more to do with past political activity rather than actual policy.

The Liberals suffer, in the west and prodominantly in rural areas, from the Trudeau comments of "sell your own grain" and the infamous finger on the rail. The Mulroney years did little to smooth the tension in the west with his aviation decision. Finally, the Chretien years just add the salt to the wound with the western neglect and the Gun Registry.

The Reform / Alliance movement was born out of political frustration and many in rural and farm communities parked their support with that party due to the feeling of (a) they want to bring a fresh voice to Ottawa (b) they want to address OUR issues (c) they aren't the Liberals or Conservatives. However, what has never made sense to me is why these individuals actually left their support with the Conservatives.

True Conservative ideologue is based on the fundamental premise of INDIVIDUALISM not COLLECTIVISM. Nor does a true Conservative want any government intervention - business should handle everything and anything and the government should stay out of the market. A good example of this would be the stance on the Wheat Board. Most Conservative supporters - rural or urban - want to see the Board scrapped and all farmers be allowed to sell their own grain to whomever they chose.

The other rural / farming concerns - drought, unfair international trade subsidies and emergering markets with more farming clout - are actually difficult to see how any party can address them. Why are farmers gravitating in such large numbers to the Conservatives? Do they actually think that Stephen Harper will make it rain more in the west? Will he be able to convince France and some of the other European countries that their subsidies are useless and unfair? Will they be able to turn back the clock and make markets import grain instead of exporting it?

The best question is when will farming be discussed for what it is - a profession - not a way of life. Farming is becoming a smaller portion of the GDP as the economy expands and folks rellocate to urban areas where employment awaits. The farm lobby is no longer as important as it once was. Finally, no other profession could continually over produce their good and than turn to government to solve the production equation.

What is even harder to understand is how the Conservative's can even claim with straight faces that - like their Republican, protectionist cousins in the US - they are in favour of income subsidies (stablization) or support programs.

I guess Canadians will see if Stephen Harper can return the children to land starting on Tuesday morning. I have a sneaking suspicion that is unlikely to occur, but far be it from me to be a realist.

Credit to Julia at Westjet for some of the inspiration in the article.

Good topic, Shaky.

Liberals tend toward the collective model where theoretically the group rules over the individual. In practise, that model has become corrupted by political correctness where the majority kowtows to minorities, in some cases whether that minorities wishes that solicitation or not.

As you noted, conservatives believe in individualism but not to the exclusion of society. Governments serve a purpose but operating businesses isn't their role.

Conservatives wish for individuals to be self-reliant and to take responsibility for their own lives rather than being dependent on others. Doing the right things for the right reasons. It makes sense.

Ask anyone who is truly dependent on others what their one true wish is and the core answer will be independence. Peel back the layers and it always come back to wanting to be self-reliant.

Does anyone truly want to be dependent on others?

Farmers understand self-reliance because no-one helps them to plow their fields; no-one helps them shovel what the cows drop; they work by themselves for themselves but their produce feeds society. They are by nature conservative.

Being conservative doesn't mean there's no room for compassion. If a farmer broke his leg, his fellows would plow his fields for him and shovel his shit for him... but if the farmer decided that he liked being in bed, his fellows won't continue to carry him for long.

As you said, many of the problems are complex, often because of international implications but who better to address those problems than someone who the farmers understand because of their common philosophy?yvvqqfr
Your gross oversimplification of true liberalism is incorrect. You have placed liberalism in the same category as socialism / communism. In your eyes they may all be one in the same, but that isn't actually the case.

The point about farming is so off base that I don’t know where to begin. Rural Canada abandoned the Liberals / NDP for many reasons but to say that farmers are, by nature, Conservative is a complete misread of history.

First, the CCF (NDP) movement was born in west among men and women who thought that as a collective they could achieve more than a series of silos. This movement rose in the depression when times were exceptionally tough and government policy was to let the "market" solve the ills of Canada.

Second, do you not think farmers want subsidies or assistance when times are tough? Yes. Is it wrong? No. It is, however, a tad rich for Conservative supporters to believe that they have done anything to earn the support of the farm community. They are annoyed at previous governments - Liberal federal and sometimes NDP provincially - and are willing to park their support with the Conservatives.

The Conservative's - riding the anti-Ottawa wave - from their Reform days are in position to have to deliver to the rural communities. Reopen the hospital for the town of 200; bring John home to work - where he belongs.

Rural Canada is about to experience a new kind of government frustration. This time it is with the party they voted for instead of the one they voted against.
I said farmers are conservative with a small 'c' deliberately. In some cases, proper punctuation of that term or it's yin (liberal) meant it was capitalized. I was not being partisan in my comments.

If I have oversimplified liberalism, it's because I find the communist and/or socialist aspects of modern liberalism difficult to understand since I don't share those values and I have yet to find a liberal who can present and logically defend the tenets of liberalism.

Farmers are an interesting bunch. When things going well and their prices are good, they live like kings. When things go poorly, they cry poverty instantly and hold out their hands. I know that’s a gross generalization but I know enough farmers to say it with some justification. As a kid, I worked on my neighbours’ farms.

The better farmers prepare for the future. They target their practices and their produce to suit the market. In other words, they are successful capitalists. Unpredictable market conditions like the Depression wrought changes which no-one could anticipate. Is there a place for government handouts? Of course but should they be the norm or the exception?

I wonder if Tommy Douglas would approve of what his vision and legacy has evolved into? Somehow, I doubt he would be content with watching Jack prop up a corrupt Liberal government in the hopes of exhorting or extorting budgetary concessions.

Let’s face it- the NDP is controlled of the assorted labour unions whose agenda is more communist than socialist. After all, all business owners are bloodsucking capitalists, determined to crush the poor helpless workers under the heels of their Gucci shoes, right?
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