Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Harper, Gag Laws and the Wheat Board

The Winnipeg Free Press quotes me in a story concerning Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Canadian Wheat Board.

Part of the story concerned Prime Minister Harper's move to prevent the Wheat Board from spending money on advertising to defend its monopoly.

The reporter, Paul Samyn, asked me if I thought such a move was hypocritical given that Harper opposed election gag laws when he was president of the National Citizens Coalition.

Here's how the Free Press reported my answer:

But Nicholls said there is no inconsistency between Harper's concerns about advertising limits during the CWB elections and those his government has now imposed on the CWB. Nicholls said what Harper was upset about while at the NCC was advertising restrictions that made it a crime for people to spend their own money to influence the board elections. By comparison, Nicholls said, the cabinet order is only there to ensure the CWB doesn't use its own resources to advance its own agenda.

But that's only half of my answer.

I also told Samyn the big difference is the election gag law prevents citizens or groups from spending their own money to promote their own political ideas.

The CWB, on the other, hand was spending other people's money to promote its agenda, an agenda many Western grain farmers oppose.

When he was our President, Stephen Harper always opposed forcing citizens to finance political agendas they opposed -- he opposed, for instance, using forced union dues for politics.

In other words, Harper's stance regarding the Wheat Boards and gag laws is perfectly consistent.

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