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WAGNER: Central Canada’s decades-long attack on Alberta oil drives the need for independence

“Within Canada, Alberta’s economy will be smothered by anti-oil policies and general hostility to resource development. Outside of Canada, Alberta’s economy can flourish and supply much-needed energy to willing customers.”

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A new book by Western Standard Senior Columnist Michael Wagner makes the case that Alberta must become independent. The following is a brief excerpt from No Other Option: Self-Determination for Alberta.

Alberta is rich in fossil fuels, which are essential components for advanced modern economies. With the energy crisis of the 1970s, Central Canada benefited enormously from Alberta’s abundance through government-imposed low oil prices and an export tax on oil. Subsequently, as Alberta’s oil was later allowed to reach world price levels, the federal government continued to reap large financial rewards at Alberta’s expense.

Now, many voters in Central Canada want Alberta’s fossil fuels to be locked in the ground, supposedly to prevent climate change. What this would mean for Albertans is crystal clear: poverty and a future without economic hope. In effect, Central Canada wants Alberta to return to its status of a have-not province, like it was before the discovery of oil at Leduc in 1947. To see the future that voters in Toronto and Montreal envision for Alberta, simply look back to the economic struggles the province experienced in its first few decades. It’s not a pretty picture.

But there is absolutely no reason why Albertans should accept this fate. Albertans have the opportunity to determine their own future, and they should do so. Through entirely peaceful, legal, and constitutional means, Albertans have the power to choose a future of self-determination and prosperity. That is, Alberta can become an independent country.

Seceding from Canada to form an independent country is certainly a drastic step. But there really is no other option. Serious proposals have been made in the past to reform Canada so the West could receive a greater voice in national institutions. These kinds of reforms – with the Triple-E (equal, elected, and effective) Senate being top of the list – have been rejected and are no longer viable. This means Albertans face a stark choice between the status quo, with its inevitable economic decline, or independence.

Many people in Alberta are very hesitant to embrace secession due to strong personal and emotional ties to Canada. This is reasonable and completely understandable. There is much laudable about Canada, including the freedom and prosperity it offers to its citizens. Canadians also have much to be proud of in their past, such as the courageous exploits of the Canadian military in the world wars, as well as other conflicts. Indeed, there is much to admire about Canada when it is compared to the other countries of the world.

Nevertheless, Canada has been going in a rather unhappy direction since the late 1960s. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau had a vision for a different kind of country that he did much to accomplish. It’s not a coincidence that the first efforts to create a separatist organization in Alberta took place during Trudeau’s first term as prime minister. Today, Pierre’s son, Justin, pursues a different set of policies that harm Alberta’s future. 

There is a lesson to be drawn from these two periods of Trudeau administrations: If Albertans don’t choose a new direction for their province, they will forever be entangled in cyclical periods of hostile federal policies.

In short, Albertans must choose between the status quo and independence. Within Canada, Alberta’s economy will be smothered by anti-oil policies and general hostility to resource development. Outside Canada, Alberta’s economy can flourish and supply much-needed energy to willing customers. This latter option will lead to prosperity for Albertans and their children. The choice is clear.

You can order a copy of Michael Wagner’s new book, No Other Option: Self-Determination for Alberta on Amazon

Michael Wagner is a Senior Columnist for the Western Standard

Michael Wagner is a Senior Alberta Columnist for the Western Standard. He has a PhD in political science from the University of Alberta. His books include 'Alberta: Separatism Then and Now' and 'True Right: Genuine Conservative Leaders of Western Canada.' mwagner@westernstandardonline.com

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Fergus Hodgson

    June 22, 2021 at 1:00 am

    Michael, I am right with you on this. I am a Canadian citizen living in the United States, but I would return and make a home in a free Alberta!

  2. Larry

    June 21, 2021 at 9:16 am

    What happens when 30 million people want in to the black gold mine.
    What happens with the pot of gold with more hands in the pot.
    What do you do to keep the taxes low then?
    I think Dawson had a gold rush?

  3. secondhandlion@hotmail.com

    June 21, 2021 at 8:33 am

    YES, YES & YES it is time to get out! Rembering Reform 1990’s “THE WEST WANTS IN” well no longer we tried that and got nowhere, only option left “THE WEST WANTS OUT”

  4. Chris

    June 20, 2021 at 9:02 pm

    I just ordered the book, looking forward to reading it.

    I escaped Ontario in 2008 and never looked back. Leftists have destroyed Canada and there are not enough conservatives elsewhere to make any national changes. I fear Albertan’s still have a long way to go before they recognize how devastating the east will be to our way of life in Alberta.

    Support the Wildrose Independence party with your time and/or money so we can help convince those on the fence to open their eyes to the reality that Canada will never be a country that respects Alberta nor want to see us prosper.

  5. David

    June 20, 2021 at 8:18 pm

    Cogent lucidity from Kelly Carter, hoping to see more from Left Coast.

    I’ve been in this socialist cesspool called Ontario for 3 1/2 years now, and the widespread cognitive disconnect is insane! There are still people here who think Trudeau is doing a great job, there is zero likelihood that Doug Ford will be made to suffer for his egregious covid overreach. And the simmering Western Independence movement isn’t even on anyone’s radar.

    Please, PLEASE, Alberta – wake up and make a country where sane people can grow and prosper!

  6. THOMAS CLARE

    June 20, 2021 at 3:53 pm

    The Wild Rose Party needs to present a platform for all Albertans to see, consider and discuss with others. The platform must address a pension plan for seniors, an Alberta Police Force, a simple, straightforward flat tax plan, a passport etc. These are the things that Albertans need reassurance on so they can be comfortable with Separation.
    The days of negotiation with Ottawa on Equalization, pipeline approvals, Tanker traffic and many other subjects should be over. Because of his past history and alliances, Kenney is not the person to lead this Separation Movement.

  7. David

    June 20, 2021 at 8:07 am

    I look forward to reading Michael Wagner’s book.

    Independence will not be an easy path. There are significant hurdles. The first will be transitioning away from the debauched Canadian currency. The second will be creating a new constitution that actually protects our rights and protects the value of our votes. The third will be a new tax regime. Unfortunately simply copying one from the Dakota’s as suggested above will not work. That is “a state” tax embedded within a federal tax framework.

    We could adopt a sales tax and not collect taxes from employment earnings. That is not a problem. The problem will be a revenue sharing arrangement between levels of government as we should definitely write a constitution that limits the powers of taxation by government. It is government gone mad with tax dollars that has destroyed Canada and its’ future. We do not want to make the same mistake.

  8. Douglas Hendrickson

    June 20, 2021 at 6:31 am

    Is not the route, open for us, to buttress the provINcial government with all political power being included in an encompassing Alberta CONSTITUTION?
    Write it, and present one or two versions to THE PEOPLE of Alberta for ratification.
    BYE BYE OTTAWA !

  9. Baron Not Baron

    June 19, 2021 at 10:24 pm

    Alberta. The province always has been a not have province, actually.. If the oil goes to South for about nothing, and the money to the east, then Albertans are left with nothing, but ugly towns and a worried population. The province is of the people who actually sanctified it, or built it – so if the people have lost what they had (businesses, jobs, etc..then the province is poor). It will be rich when its resources are used here, for Albertans. It will be rich, when Albertans will learn to spend their money in Alberta, instead of non stop flying into the US, Mexico (really, Mexico? What the hell is in Mexico?) and other places, but in Alberta.
    The only way to see the light out of this is Independence. Alberta becomes a country – a rich country – not only when it will use its resources, but when different industries will be attracted here, because of low or no tax.
    I advocated for a long time to practice a South Dakota tax model. No personal or corporate tax, no personal property tax, – just sales tax (they have 4.5%) and they’re left with excess of budget – because of the great number of businesses moving in and the grand total of revenue that is not felt by its citizens. If one keeps all of his earned money, then there’s money to purchase, invest or save. Therefore there is plenty of money even for retirement – more than the BS pension the gvt throws at you.
    Albertans have become pathetic a long time ago – otherwise how can anybody explain the magnitude of stupidity of the people, for taking this treatment (plantation like) from the east?
    Dear fellow Albertan freedom seeker, aren’t you exhausted yet to keep listening to all of these agents that came here from the east, to tell you how to live your life for so long – and actually lying every time? There is only one option left on your dinner table: Wildrose Independence Party. There’s no middle ground.

  10. Dennis

    June 19, 2021 at 8:53 pm

    Great article and yes to all comments. The time has come to right the ship. Take charge of our affairs, get our house in order and then separate from a dysfunctional confederation. As said above Canada and the constitution will NEVER change in favour of Alberta when Quebec, who BTW, never signed the constitution, has the final veto over any changes. Wildrose 2023 is our means to break the status quo and make Alberta a great Sovereign Nation.
    https://wildrose.party/

  11. Steven Ruthven

    June 19, 2021 at 3:35 pm

    Calgary Co-Op at in the NW, is selling regular gas at $1.339 today 19 June 2021.

    I wonder how much higher the price of driving your car, which is a necessity to many, regarding living a modern lifestyle outside urban areas were alternatives are easily accessible? Real big disconnect with urban & rural areas when it comes to attitudes on getting around, real big.

    Justin Trudeau was blaming Alberta for the countries social & economical problems back in 2010, in a french language interview. Justin also stated at that time he felt “this country Canada belongs to us” meaning Quebec. The Trudeau’s out right hate towards Albertans and Western Canada should have been dealt with a long time ago, prior to 1982 & the National Energy Program.

    Canada is a failed Federation. The Constitution projects the reality of 1867 towards Western Canada at that time as “Colonies” & still does today in 2021.

    I agree, only an independent Alberta free from the colonial attitudes of Upper & Lower Canada is the only option.

  12. Eldon

    June 19, 2021 at 12:18 pm

    I agree with this article and with the comments from Kelly Carter (above comment).
    At this point in time, we have no choice.
    Thankyou Micheal Wagner for writing this much needed article.

  13. Andrew

    June 19, 2021 at 10:56 am

    Cheers to my fellow Albertans also working to get Alberta out of this god forsaken country.

  14. Kelly Carter

    June 19, 2021 at 10:09 am

    It is worse than just the Trudeau’s. All governments since the 1970’s need to be looked at. The most pro-Alberta was perhaps the 6 months with Joe Clark. Mulroney was defined by trying to stabilize Canada (mostly from Quebec separatism) so not hostile to Alberta but not helpful either. Chretein was boarder
    Ime hostile to Alberta, but spent most of their time addressing Quebec and Ontario and financial concerns. Harper, whom I did like, was also not hostile but not terribly helpful to Alberta either. Not much changed under him, and that was perhaps the best opportunity of the last 50 years. Trudeau 2.0 is openly hostile to Alberta. So we can hope on the next conservative government, but they are more likely to be less hostile but not helpful to Alberta. And the next Liberal government (or NDP) will be openly hostile again. So what is fairly clear at this point is the Laurentian elites, the GTA, Quebec, and the SCC will never allow anything to acctually change to allow for more provincial autonomy within confederation because then they lose power. That makes the next best option seceding from Canada. High time to get Alberta tax collection, Alberta police and an Alberta version of the CPP going so that Alberta independance becomes easier. Maybe things change in that time, and maybe they don’t. Doesn’t matter because at least we will be doing something about it instead of complaining.

  15. THOMAS CLARE

    June 19, 2021 at 10:05 am

    A clear message has to be created and delivered as to how Separation would take place. Seniors (mostly) have to be comfortable with the principles that matter most to them: Canada Pension, Taxes, Law Enforcement, Passports, Currency etc – how these points are handled, clearly and in a straight forward manner need to be presented to the public. Otherwise a vote on Separation will fail. We’ve already seen how Kenney will make the referendum on Equalization cloudy and obscure so we won’t be able to intelligently vote on it.

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Pickup trucks are a plague on Canadian streets — Gee, did he get it wrong?

Nasty pickup-driving soccer moms rolling coal in mall parking lots are the ones killing the planet!
At least, that’s how Globe and Mail writer Marcus Gee sees it.

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Across Canada’s untamed urban frontier, when pickup truck drivers aren’t wrestling wild hogs, they’re on the road tailgating electric cars and cyclists for sport.

And the biggest polluters aren’t factories in China, India and elsewhere ceaselessly spewing smoke and chemicals into the air.

Nasty pickup-driving soccer moms rolling coal in mall parking lots are the ones killing the planet!
At least, that’s how Globe and Mail writer Marcus Gee sees it.

Thank goodness he ventured out of his urban bubble to set people straight on the devastating impact of the vile permeation of pickup trucks in North America.

Hopefully, Gee’s Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino, with a heaping topping of utter contempt, didn’t dribble down his elitist chin whilst he penned a recent snobbish attack on the character of pickup truck drivers.

It doesn’t take long for the initial surprise at the absurdity of his sanctimonious reasoning to turn into laughter.

Gee lamented that last spring – in the midst of a pandemic yet – Americans bought more pickup trucks than cars. And, if you can imagine, for years, Canadians have had the audacity to make Ford’s F-150 a best-selling vehicle.

“For heaven’s sake why? Most people no longer use pickups to haul bales of hay. They drive them to the mall to shop or the soccer field to drop off their kids. Why anyone thinks they need to do that is an abiding mystery,” anguished Gee.

“Once the vehicle of the cowboy, the contractor, and the good old boy, pickups have become the continent’s mainstream ride,” wrote Gee.

“A vehicle that started as a practical tool for hard-working people has become, for many, an obnoxious assertion of dominance and division,” wrote Gee.

What a clever ploy! Pretend you’re purchasing pickup trucks to haul things, make a living, or for safe driving in brutal weather conditions, when the real intent is to achieve dominance and create division.
Do pickup truck drivers hold super-secret meetings like the Illuminati or the Bilderberg Group to achieve this nefarious goal?

Gee referred to a survey – no, he didn’t identify it – that claimed three-quarters of pickup drivers use their trucks only once, or not at all, for hauling each year.

That would come as a shock to farmers, contractors, tradesmen, delivery companies, utility repairmen, movers, people who haul loads to the dump or the whole team’s gear to regular sports events, and a host of other pickup truck drivers.

“Buyers can drop $100,000 on luxury models, which most will spend more time polishing than loading,” he wrote.

“Even if they weren’t polluting and dangerous, the parade of pickups would be a blight on the roadscape and a finger in the eye of other drivers – a way of saying to everyone else: ‘I am bigger, badder and richer than you.”

No, Gee didn’t say what message is sent by purchasers of the $93,000 Audi e-tron Sportback or the $170,000 BMW i8 Roadster, or other expensive electric or hybrid vehicles he prefers.

Gee’s entitled to his opinion. But it evolved into a personal attack on people who drive vehicles he doesn’t like. He portrayed them as reckless bullies on the hunt for targets.

That’s inexcusable.

“In the charming practice known as rolling coal, some pickup drivers blow past cyclists and electric vehicles and deliberately spew black smoke at them,” claimed Gee.

Yup, those hordes of pickup truck drivers – even the soccer moms – spend their spare time modifying diesel engines so they can hunt down targets to spew sooty exhaust fumes on. Great fun!
Can anyone possibly be so detached from reality?

But Gee wasn’t finished flinging wild accusations: “Then there is safety. Anyone who has travelled a Canadian highway lately has been tailgated by a speeding pickup driver. Being up there in that big cab over the huge engine seems to make the drivers think they own the road; lesser vehicles be damned.”
Now that’s a fabricated, irrational fear, right up there with monsters hiding under the bed or in the closet.

And the good old boys Gee mocked still drive pickups. They’re everywhere. They’re the first to stop on the highway in frigid, stormy weather to pull vehicles that jackknifed and slid off the road out of the ditch, never expecting more than a thank you.

He’s right about farmers not using pickups to haul bales, particularly in Manitoba now. That’s because there are no bales to haul to feed the cattle they’re forced to sell because of drought and grasshoppers.
Meanwhile, many people, especially in Alberta, are using their pickup trucks to move their possessions out of the homes they’ve lost because clueless and destructive environmentalists successfully campaigned against the energy industry.

Gee was applauded by his colleague Gary Mason who tweeted: “This is a column I wish I’d written.”

These Uber boys are so sadly out of touch.

Most Canadians are fed up with condescending so-called elitists who look down on them believing they have the right to tell them how to live and what to buy.

Rev those engines, folks!

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard  lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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Opinion

WAGNER: Election of Maverick MPs would send a clear message of Western defiance

But what if – instead of business as usual – the Mavericks picked up a few Alberta seats?

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The May poll showing emerging support for the Maverick Party is good news for Alberta. The party is beginning to build its profile and may become competitive in some ridings. As time goes by, more and more Albertans will hear about the party and see it as a viable alternative worthy of their vote.

A federal election will likely occur this year (very soon, according to Brian Lilley in the Toronto Sun), and almost all of Alberta’s seats are currently safe havens for Conservative MPs. A result like 2019 where every seat except one goes Conservative will be met by a shrug in Ottawa. That’s just business as usual. 

But what if – instead of business as usual – the Mavericks picked up a few Alberta seats? A result like that would set off a firestorm. Nothing would catch the attention of people in Central Canada more abruptly than Albertans sending some so-called “separatist” MPs to Ottawa. Bloc Quebecois MPs don’t raise too many eyebrows down there. They are, after all, from Central Canada too, and share the same “progressive” values and anti-oil sentiment exhibited by most of the other parties. But sovereigntist MPs from Alberta? That would be something else altogether.

There are many good Conservative MPs from Alberta who undoubtedly do their best for their constituents. But right now, the West needs MPs who can speak out publicly without the fear of retribution by party leadership whose ambitions are always to please Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal – MPs, that is, whose only loyalty is to Alberta and the West.

From a Western regionalist perspective, a vote for the Conservatives is a vote for the status quo. Alberta needs something different now, something that offers a full-frontal challenge to Central Canada’s political elite. Electing politicians from the old-line parties just won’t do it. But electing Maverick candidates might.

The ridings most likely to show support for Maverick candidates are in rural Alberta. Ridings like Battle River—Crowfoot and Red Deer—Mountain View are unfamiliar to people in places like Toronto. But if those ridings sent Maverick MPs to Ottawa, people in Central Canada would suddenly hear about them, for all the right reasons. 

The large Wexit meetings that were held in the wake of the October 2019 federal election generated some attention down East. A prominent Toronto-based magazine, The Walrus, even produced a cover feature on Wexit with two major articles, The New Separatists and Meet the Albertans Who Want to Start Their Own Country. But as the Wexit meetings dissipated due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, and perhaps declining enthusiasm, Central Canada once again forgot about Western discontent.

Having a Maverick presence in the House of Commons would ensure Western concerns would not be forgotten or ignored. Maverick MPs would be a continual reminder that things are not okay and big changes are needed. 

It’s true that only a provincial government can hold a referendum on independence. Even with elected MPs, a federal party cannot initiate any measures that would lead to Western independence. As a result, some people question the necessity of a federal sovereigntist party. However, if a referendum on Alberta independence were held under the Clarity Act, the House of Commons would determine whether the referendum question on independence was “clear.” The presence of MPs whose only loyalty is to the West could be crucial in getting a fair judgment on that point. 

Maverick MPs would represent the West’s interests in other important matters as well, of course. We know that Quebecers believe there are advantages to sending committed sovereigntist MPs to Ottawa because they repeatedly elect candidates from the Bloc Quebecois. The West can do likewise.

If Alberta and Saskatchewan send full slates of Conservative MPs to Ottawa after the next election, no one will be surprised and Canadian politics would continue as usual. However, if Alberta – and perhaps the other Western provinces – send some Maverick MPs to Ottawa, that would convey an unmistakable message of defiance.

It would be a clear signal that the West has had enough.

Michael Wagner is a columnist for the Western Standard

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Help too little, too late for Manitoba farmers

Severe drought and a grasshopper invasion have left parched watering holes and destroyed crops and pastures, forcing producers to sell cattle they can’t feed at emergency auctions.

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A disaster relief program announced Thursday for drought-stricken Manitoba farmers is too little too late to save too many.

And the package, although welcomed, doesn’t address other critical problems.

Severe drought and a grasshopper invasion have left parched watering holes and destroyed crops and pastures, forcing producers to sell cattle they can’t feed at emergency auctions.

Farmers are exhausted from hauling water to thirsty animals and a prolonged fight for survival.

An exodus from the devastated industry is underway. Forage livestock commodity producers – beef, sheep, goats, buffalo and horses – are planning, in some cases, permanent exit strategies.

“This could be the end of the industry here. By the time most people are forced out, they’re not going to have enough money to go back into it,” Orval Procter, a beef producer and councillor for the R.M. of Woodlands, just north of Winnipeg, told the Western Standard.

“These announcements are wonderful but there needs to be strong dialogue provincially, federally, with all the commodity groups to figure out as best a path as we can to benefit everybody.

“This is a small drop in what we need. Not all of what we need is money. We need good planning and regulations or restrictions to add some control to the marketplace.”

Agriculture contributes $7 billion a year to Manitoba’s economy and $1 billion of that is attributed directly to livestock. 

The ripple effect of an exodus would devastate communities and businesses within them.

Manitoba’s suffering its fourth year of drought. Areas where cattle production is prevalent are hardest hit.

“Livestock producers are unique in that we’re struggling, and we have live animals that we’re dealing with. Grain producers who are struggling aren’t putting animals at risk,” said Procter.

Over the past two years with feed in short supply, farmers have had to sell one-third of their breeding stock.

But for 11 years, the resilience of economically crippled farmers and producers has been severely tested by a string of blows including BSE (mad cow disease), flooding, drought, economic recessions, and the impact of COVID-19.

“Because we’ve had so many issues, nobody has the financial resources, and nobody knows where we can get enough feed. It’s dire,” said Procter.

Through it all, they’ve mostly had to go it alone because there was “minimal recognition” by the government of the crushing economic damage to the industry, said Procter. 

He helped organize a July 21 rally to call for immediate federal and provincial government help. Nearly 100 producers showed up. Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development Minister Ralph Eichler didn’t attend for health reasons and didn’t send anyone from the agriculture department in his place.

Federal agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau visited drought-stricken areas Thursday and announced federal/provincial relief programs.

Through the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation’s Hay Disaster Benefit, insured livestock feed producers will get an extra $44 per tonne to offset replacement feed and transportation costs. Changes to the AgriInsurance program allow some crops damaged by drought to be sold as feed.

“What they’re really announcing is a top-up to the insurance programs to make sure there’s enough money to increase benefits to producers for hay shortages based on the extra cost. That price is typically set almost on a national scale, so when you get in situations like we have, where the price is triple what it was last year and they pay you out on last year’s costs, it doesn’t let you buy much,” said Procter.

He’s concerned about the cattle.

“There’s about 450,000 cows in Manitoba. Most producers are being affected by this,” said Procter.

“One of the biggest things that scares me, and nobody’s talking about it, there’s obviously going to be a huge influx of cattle into the market. Where are these cattle going to go? Are we going to have days with 5,000 head showing up an auction mart with three days selling? How many days before they’re moved? Who’s going to want them?” 

Every bit of hay that comes into the system is desperately needed. Eight bales saves one cow.

But pleas for more Crown land and wildlife management areas to be opened for haying and grazing, appear futile.

“The department has let land out, but they’ve not let all of it out. Areas still aren’t open and that’s to no one’s benefit,” said Procter.

“There’s no engagement. We asked for a contact to meet with, it’s been three weeks and we haven’t been given that. We got a roundabout response that it probably wasn’t going to happen.”

Meanwhile, skyrocketing feed costs and negative sales returns have resulted in producers receiving up to $400 less per animal than the cost of raising it.

“We haven’t even been in a break-even position for some time. We get 19% of the final cost, feed lots get 19%, and the rest is taken up by slaughter plants and retail,” said Procter.

“I’ve got receipts from 2002 – $1.87 a pound for a 400-500-pound steer was pretty common. I got the same price a month ago.” 

Producers are demanding a “government-driven investigation into the system that prices meat products, from the farmer’s gate to the consumer’s plate.”

The price producers receive isn’t reflected in what consumers pay for meat products.

“What’s hamburger worth? That’s your cheapest cut,” said Procter.

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard 
lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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