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CWB ballot lineups finalized

With the deadline past for nominations, the organizers of this fall’s Canadian Wheat Board director elections have finalized their official ballots.

In a release Tuesday, election co-ordinating firm Meyers Norris Penny (MNP) released the names and contact information for the 19 candidates running for farmer-director seats in the CWB’s five even-numbered districts.

Ian Craven, MNP’s 2008 election co-ordinator, noted “strong interest” from potential candidates. “Each of the five districts has at least two candidates running, and two districts have five candidates nominated,” he said Tuesday.

Voters’ packages are expected to be mailed out to eligible voters on Oct. 29. Those are to include voting instructions, biographies and policy statements of the candidates in that district, a preferential ballot and an official postage-paid return envelope, MNP said.

Farmers who delivered wheat or barley to the CWB this year or last are automatically on the voters’ list, MNP said. Other farmers can establish their eligibility to vote by submitting a completed application form with supporting documentation before Nov. 14, 2008. For such documentation, farmers can provide either a statutory declaration or, new this year, a crop insurance contract number, grain delivery receipt or cash ticket to accompany the form and validate eligibility.

Completed ballots must be postmarked no later than Nov. 28, MNP said, and the company expects to announce election results on Dec. 7.

Candidates

This year’s election will assure at least three new faces on the CWB’s board of directors, as the sitting directors in Districts 2, 4 and 6, Ken Ritter, Jim Chatenay and Ian McCreary respectively, are ineligible to run again due to term limits.

In southwestern Alberta’s District 2, currently held by Chatenay, a Penhold, Alta. farmer and long-time “marketing choice” advocate, two candidates are running to replace him:

  • Olds, Alta. farmer Jeff Nielsen, a former farmer-director with UGG and Agricore United and now president of the Western Barley Growers Association; and
  • Gerald Pilger of Ohaton, Alta., a full-time farmer and farm writer for publications including Grainews and Country Guide.

District 4, which straddles east-central Alberta and west-central Saskatchewan, is currently held by Ritter, a Kindersley, Sask. farmer and the board’s chairman until March this year. This year’s three candidates are:

  • Sam Magnus of Luseland, Sask., who helped found North West Terminal at Unity, Sask., and is also a former member of the national councils of the federal Reform/Canadian Alliance and Conservative parties;
  • Walter Suntjens, a grain farmer and cattle producer from Hanna, Alta., delegate to Alberta Beef Producers and acting chairman of Chinook Applied Research Association; and
  • Bill Woods, a grain farmer from Eston, Sask. and founding member and current director of the West Central Road and Rail producer car loading organization.

Central Saskatchewan’s District 6 is currently held by McCreary, who farms at Bladworth, Sask. and has been the CWB’s point man on its calls for a rail costing review. The four candidates eyeing his chair include:

  • Wayne Bacon, who farms at Kinistino, Sask. and has sat as president of the Saskatchewan Canola Growers Commission and Canadian Canola Growers Association, and as director with the Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission and Western Grains Research Foundation;
  • Hanley, Sask. farmer Cam Goff, treasurer of the Allan South Rural Water Utility and one of the proponents of a producer car loading site for Hanley;
  • Gerrid Gust, a farmer at Davidson, Sask. and current secretary/treasurer of the pro-deregulation Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association; and
  • Langham, Sask. farmer Doyle Wiebe, vice-president of the Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association and former director of Settler Computer Technologies (creator of AgExpert Field Market Pro software, now owned and marketed by Farm Credit Canada).

One of the two most contested seats is south-central Saskatchewan’s District 8, now held by incumbent Rod Flaman, an organic farmer at Edenwold, Sask., and recent federal Liberal candidate in his Regina-area riding. Flaman’s four opponents include:

  • Paul Beingessner, who farms at Truax, Sask. and is a board member of Southern Rails, life member of the Saskatchewan Insititute of Agrologists and newspaper columnist on ag and transportation issues;
  • Moose Jaw-area farmer Phil Lewis, a founding member and former executive director of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS);
  • Lonny McKague, a grain farmer and cattleman at Ogema, Sask., former president of the Canadian Limousin Association, current director of the Saskatchewan Limousin Association, director with Red Coat Road and Rail and federal Liberal candidate in 2004 and 2006; and
  • Lampman, Sask. area farmer David Schnell, the former chair of the Prairie Pasta Producers group in its bid to build a pasta plant in southeastern Saskatchewan.

The equally contested director’s seat in District 10, which includes south-central and southeastern Manitoba, is held by incumbent Bill Toews, a grain farmer at Kane, Man., a director with Keystone Agricultural Producers and the Canadian International Grains Institute and member of the Manitoba Farm Products Marketing Council and Agri-Food Research and Development Initiative. His four opponents include:

  • Rolf Penner, a Morris, Man. grain and hog farmer, agricultural fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, Manitoba vice-president with the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association and regular ag media commentator;
  • Killarney, Man. grain farmer and trucker Barry Reimer, president of the Killarney Marketing Club and member of the Association of Canadian Custom Harvesters;
  • Curtis Sims of MacGregor, Man., a past president of the Manitoba Farm Business Association, Outstanding Young Farmer for Manitoba (1991), delegate to Manitoba Pool, UGG and AU, former member of the Farm Debt Review Board and federal senior grain transportation committee; and
  • Dugald, Man. farmer and Winnipeg police officer Harvey Vaags, a former spray pilot, former secretary of the A-1 Cattle Co-op and former board member with the federal Reform Party for a southeastern Manitoba riding.

“Essentially politicians”

The Market Choice Alliance, which bills itself as a pro-deregulation, non-partisan Prairie farmers’ group, issued a release Wednesday criticizing “unsuccessful Liberal candidates” Flaman and McKague for running in District 8.

“The CWB is supposed to represent the interests of farmers. It must not be hijacked by the Liberal Party of Canada or become a sanctuary for unsuccessful Liberal candidates,” said group spokesman Charles Anderson, who farms at Rose Valley, Sask.

Anderson questioned in the release how either McKague or Flaman could carry out CWB duties in a non-partisan manner when they are “essentially politicians.”

The group also accused the Liberal Party of seeking to “manipulate the CWB elections to accommodate its failed candidates” and noted an unnamed “ex-CWB employee” and “prominent Liberal organizer in Manitoba” is spearheading the Friends of the CWB’s planned court challenge of recent regulatory changes to the active CWB voters’ list.

The group’s release did not mention Vaags’ riding-level involvement with the former federal Reform Party, nor Magnus’ previous involvement with the national councils of the Reform, Canadian Alliance and Conservative parties.

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