NDP call out Ritz

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December 11, 2014 9:11 AM

Malcolm Allen, NDP Agricultural critic, is accusing Gerry Ritz, minister of Agriculture, of withholding information on the sale of the Canadian Wheat Board. - Malcolm Allen Office Photo

Minister of Agriculture, and Battlefords- Lloydminster MP, Gerry Ritz came under fire earlier this month for the sale of the Canadian Wheat Board to an American company.

Malcolm Allen, the federal NDP agriculture critic said in an interview with the Lloydminster Source that the NDP are looking to see what financial state the CWB is currently in.

“What we are after is what the financial position the CWB is currently in,” Allen said about the cross examination in question period last week.

“When (the NDP) looked at the last reports there was nothing in the report that stated if the CWB is a viable option or not a viable option.”

Allen said that he asked questions in question period and what he heard from Ritz was more of the same.

“What we got was no answer at all,” he said.

According to the official record of the House of Commons, Hansard, Allen spoke in question period asking the minister of Agriculture, “Farmers of North America, a group of more than 3,000 Canadian farmer investors, recently offered to buy the Canadian Wheat Board for – get this – about $250 million to $300 million, which they thought it was worth. The Conservatives rejected the offer. They did not give a reason. They just said no.”

Ritz said in the commons that the NDP question was not true and there was a thirdparty auditor that the CWB put in place.

“The easy answer is that absolutely none of that is true or based upon any kind of fact at all,” Ritz said in question period.

“The Farmers of North America’s bid was adjudicated by a third-party auditor and legal team that the CWB put into place. This was not a political process.

“As to the assets of the CWB, they will become part of a privatization plan as it looks to recapitalize with another partner. That is exactly what is happening, under the auspices – as I said, all these tenders are looked at through the eyes of a third-party audit team, as well as a legal team.”

Allen said that the government might have an ideology position in the sale of the CWB to a Canadian-based company compared to the U.S.-based company.

“I’m not sure what it’s all about, if they just dont want Canadian farmers owning it again,” said Allen.

“I’m not sure why they would be opposed to that.”

Allen said that the government isn’t giving the proper answers to the NDP in response to what exactly is happening when it comes to the issue of the sale of the CWB.

“I got two stories ... one from the minister saying the company is over budget, and one from the assistant deputy minister that said ‘no, not exactly.’”

Allen said that the government is also hiding the answer to the NDP’s question of assets left over at the CWB that might be farmer owned.

“We have to look at the closing costs, there are still outstanding questions around the 3,400 rail cars, and who exactly owns them.”

Allen said that if there are still assets that the farmers who owned the CWB would be eligible for compensation of the assets at the CWB.

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