Tuesday, September 13, 2011

When a Win Isn’t a Victory

The results of the Canadian Wheat Board farmer plebiscite represent a very good example of when winning something can sometimes make for bad politics.

Sixty-two percent of Western Canadian farmers voted to keep the monopoly in place for wheat while only 51% voted to keep the monopoly for barley.

While it may appear counterintuitive, the Canadian Wheat Board would have found itself in a much better place politically if they’d have simply lost the barley vote.

A 50% +1 margin is a very limited vote of confidence. Had the Wheat Board lost the barley vote, it would have positioned them very well to suggest the federal government move forward with eliminating the monopoly for barley while deferring any decision on wheat.

Politically, this would have worked out much better for the Wheat Board. Now, unfortunately, the Board is saddled with defending the barley monopoly, when the barley pool is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

And, of course, “irrelevant” is exactly how Mr. Ritz wants the Wheat Board to look.


P.S. - was there a provincial election called in Manitoba?? Somehow, we missed it!