Liberal indifference creates uncertain future for Western producers trying to get their product to market
With another record crop on the way, farm families in the Peace Country are concerned that a repeat of the rail backlog of 2013-2014, which stopped grain from getting to market and cost the economy billions of dollars, might be developing again.
Farmers have asked for a meeting with Liberal Transport Minister Marc Garneau, to share their concerns about grain movement and propose long-term changes to the Canada Transportation Act.
These requests have fallen on deaf ears and farmers fear that lack of attention to this file may develop into a disaster if the government is not willing to take action.
Chris Warkentin, Member of Parliament for Grande Prairie – Mackenzie expressed frustration that the Trudeau government continues to ignore the needs of farm families.
“Many Peace Country farm families have had a difficult harvest this year,” said Warkentin. “Wet weather has delayed and reduced the quality of this otherwise bumper crop, and the prospect of another grain backlog would make a difficult year much worse.”
“I am very frustrated that the Liberals have refused to meet with farmers to hear their concerns,” Warkentin continued. “We need this government to listen to the hardworking families who feed our nation and drive the economy in communities across rural Canada.”
Warkentin has repeatedly called on the Liberal Government to fix Canada’s rail transportation system and had asked that the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-food conduct hearings on the Canada Transportation Act Review. These requests have gone unanswered and the Liberals shut down the hearings after one meeting.
Norm Hall, president of the Agriculture Producers Association of Saskatchewan, said in an interview with the National Post, that his organization wrote Garneau’s office last winter asking for a meeting. “It took until July to get a reply just saying, ‘Yes, we received your letter. Sorry we are too busy,’” he said.
Hall continued, “Our membership is concerned. What I’ve heard from them is, ‘Here we go again. Another review and they are not listening to agriculture.’ We know that he has met with the railroads a number of times. Are they going to get their way again?”
Warkentin is calling on the Liberal Minister to immediately start meeting with farm families and producer groups from Western Canada to ensure that Western Canadian grain gets to market.
“It is the Minister’s mandate to ensure that Canada’s transportation corridors serve everyone including grain farmers,” Warkentin stated. “So far, we have found that this government is willing to meet with anyone except farmers. That has to change”