Sunday, August 25, 2013

Grain crime no! Grass crime yes!

David Climenhaga. The name alone is enough to induce giggling among almost anyone who isn't, like Climenhaga, a complete and total hack.

There's a reason for this. And it is embodied in a recent blogpost Climenhaga published at Rabble.ca, entitled "Grass crime no! Grain crime yes!" Wherein Climenhaga attempts to play the role of Mighty Casey, going to bat for Justin Trudeau, only to strike out. There is no joy in mudville.

In typically hackish fashion, Climenhaga attempts to shill for Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, amidst the single, solitary policy point his has offered during his time as Liberal leader: the legalization of marijuana. It shouldn't be said that there isn't a case to made for this, just as it shouldn't be said that there's a case to be made against this.

But Climenhaga attempts neither case, and instead attempts to transform it into an ill-fitting microcosm of the issue that is almost certainly Climenhaga's #1 beef with the Conservative government Prime Minister Stephen Harper leads: the decline of statism under the Harper government.

As it turns out, Climenhaga is still nurturing quite the grudge over the Harper government's decision to pardon a group of Alberta farmers who had the nerve -- the utter gall! -- to sell their own grain outside of the Canadian Wheat Board's now-abolished monopoly.

"Unmentioned in the coverage of this brouhaha, however, has been Harper's inconsistency when dealing with lawbreakers whose misdemeanours involve other vegetative materials. Indeed, his hypocritical rallying cry seems to be: 'Grass crime no! Grain crime yes!'

I speak, of course, of the PM's admiration, affection and support for the 14 farmers -- one of whom is now an Alberta legislator himself -- who in 2002 openly broke the laws governing how to export wheat and barley to the United States. A dozen of them were eventually found guilty of willfully breaking several laws and served time in jail.

If you are a lawbreaker who takes a couple of tokes at home and admits it, apparently you earn a curled lip and Harper's undying contempt.

But if you are a lawbreaker who rolls past the Canada Border Services Agency's agents in a truck loaded with grain to sell illegally in the United States, and do it with sufficient defiance to calculatedly get a jail term, you earn a photo opportunity with the same prime minister, his unstinting praise, and the co-operation of Parliament to overturn the law you ignored. What's more, you get a prime ministerial pardon!

If you then decide want to run for public office yourself, you can count on the support of the prime minister's party apparatus -- as was the case with Rick Strankman, who is now the Wildrose MLA for Drumheller-Stettler.

Alert readers will recall that Strankman spent a week in jail for taking part in just such a shenanigan back in 2002 when he and a group of a dozen other market-fundamentalist farmers drove their trucks across the Canada-U.S. border at Coutts, Alta., and illegally sold grain to a US. broker to protest against the collective bargaining role that was then the responsibility of the Canadian Wheat Board.

Canadian farmers will undoubtedly suffer as a result of the eventual demise of the Wheat Board in 2011 -- indeed, it is already happening -- and taxpayers in all parts of Canada, rural and urban alike, will be asked to bail them out. But the farmers who took part in the willful violation of the Customs Act were certainly entitled to fight for their economic beliefs, however misinformed."

This is all giggle-inducing for a number of reasons.

First off, "journalism teacher" David Climenhaga apparently doesn't consider himself above using a press release from the Canadian Wheat Board Alliance to make the case that grain farmers are suffering under the open market that grain farmers themselves spent decades demanding. If Climenhaga had done any amount of independent research -- instead of simply parroting his statist bosom buddies -- he would have learned that the reduced premiums for high-protein wheat are being driven by an increase in abundance of high-protein wheat, particularly outside of Canada where the CWB has absolutely never had any say in what those prices will be.

Awkward.

Not to mention that the grievous crime of defying the statism that Climenhaga so cherishes pales in comparison to the kind of crime -- property crime and violent crime -- that swirls around the drug trade. Marijuana is not exempt.

Which, all things considered, is enough to demonstrate that, as far as wedge issues go, David Climenhaga could have picked a better slogan than "grain crime no! Grass crime yes!"

There is no joy in mudville.

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