Checkoff, your right to vote: MLA Strankman

MLA urges producers to vote

By Rick Strankman, MLA Drumheller – Stettler

Producers have an opportunity to exercise their opinion on the direction beef producers will go with the presently voluntary check off. I feel it’s important that consideration is given to the possibility of “unintended” consequences. This opinion piece from one producer, Danny Hozack Past Chairman Alberta Beef Producers (ABP), addresses those considerations. We are presenting this with his permission;

For some reason, the voting on the Alberta Beef Producers voluntary checkoff has been extended. We are not sure why. But it is an opportunity for producers to get out and vote and for us to continue the discussion on whether it is better to have a choice or not.

We have not had an official response from the ABP defending the notion that forced engagement beats the voluntary kind. But we have received some personal communications including from ABP delegates that seem to strengthen our argument.

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For instance, we have been told that it is wrong to consider revisiting the ABP’s support for the carbon tax because the matter was voted on already.

We have been told that we are pursuing a political agenda by questioning the ABP’s position on climate and carbon taxes.

Curiously one delegate wrote reproaching us over carbon taxes by saying: “as for science, who has the right to say one is absolute and the other fallacy?”

Answer: Researchers: that is why we fund it.

This view is more than a bit silly because in supporting a carbon tax the ABP has decided that one position is right and one is wrong. And since it was not based on any research which they want you to fund, it was a political decision which they say we should not be advancing.

And that is the essence of the problem.

Our group wants ABP policy to be based on sound science and sound economics which ultimately leads to sound public policy.

The zone 8 resolution advanced by producers on climate did not ask ABP to take a position on climate. They asked ABP to facilitate an intelligent respectful discussion on the issue with speakers from both sides of the issue so that the delegate body and producers and our customers could make an informed decision after informed discussion based on research.The delegate body voted down the discussion. That was a political decision. Our sense is that the vast majority of our producers want to be well informed and are opposed to the carbon tax as are the vast majority of voters. The ABP missed an opportunity to lead on this issue.

If democracy means citizens controlling government, or in this case the ABP, we have not just a right but a duty to form opinions on key policy issues and carbon taxes and climate change are key policy issues. Our organization is ‘out of step’ with our producers, many taxpayers and our largest trading customer on this issue.

And again, we underline that in the words of its defenders this ‘forced engagement’ apparently means you can not ask questions or rock the boat. Which is not real engagement, is it?

If they really favour people getting involved, they should not be sending snarky private notes to concerned producers telling us that we can not challenge their decisions or take a stand on principle in this outfit. They should be encouraging the involvement and the discussion.

In the meantime, we are continuing to urge producers to get out and vote to support the current refundable checkoff because nothing gets people’s attention like being told they can not keep taking your money unless they listen to your views. Especially people who say you should shut up and pay up. Please vote no to the mandatory checkoff.

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