I am writing in response to Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart’s dismissive and short-sighted approach to dealing with the interests of producers and their struggle to get their grain out of the bins and to get this record crop to market.
Grain transportation is in crisis in this province. However, this government has only identified problems instead of offering solutions.
The NDP has put forward solutions, including calling for the provincial and federal government to explore joint running rights for rail lines, otherwise known as open access. This would allow other rail companies and short lines to be part of the solution to move grain to market. We’ve also called for the establishment performance standards for rail companies with enforceability. These solutions would require the government to actually stand up for producers, not simply siding with the big rail companies. Instead, the government’s Agriculture Minister quickly disregarded the call to action and potential solutions Saskatchewan producers need to get their crop to market.
The idea that joint running rights can help producers is supported by many agricultural groups throughout Western Canada. The Keystone Agricultural Producers in Manitoba and Alberta Federation of Agriculture have both been pushing for these rights in the interests of producers in their respective provinces. At home, the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan has long been pressing to see producers get open access to rail lines.
When it comes to the transportation crisis, this government needs to do a better job on behalf of the producers who are doing their part to drive the economy in this province, instead of stubbornly dismissing solutions and real action.
Trent Wotherspoon - NDP Deputy Leader