“Thank you very much, greetings everybody.
“Thank you for that warm welcome, it’s really a delight to see so many colleagues, past and present, so many old friends from across Saskatchewan and different parts of Western Canada.
“What a great day this is, it really is.
“I want to say my greetings to Minister Ritz, to Saskatchewan Minister Lyle Stewart, to Parliamentary Secretary Anderson and to everybody, as they say, from my Cabinet and caucus colleagues.
“I’d first like to begin, ladies and gentlemen, I know we’d all like to begin by thanking you, Mrs. Walde, and Robin and Brenda and all of Art’s family, for their generous hospitality here today.
“As everybody here knows, the Walde family has been committed to this cause for decades, and it is appropriate that we should be celebrating this occasion on their property, so thank you very much.
“I also want to thank Gerry, not just for his kind introduction, but for getting me out here today.
“As I said, it’s a great day to be in Saskatchewan, a great day for Western Canadian farmers.
“A great day for all who have fought the good fight.
“Welcome to Grain Marketing Freedom Day.
“They said it couldn’t be done.
“But, we did it.
“Together, we have delivered marketing freedom for Western Canadian farmers.
“Never, never, never again will Western farmers - and only Western farmers –growing their own wheat on their own land be told how they can, and can’t, market their products.
“As everyone here knows, we have worked hard for many years, through many elections, with the overwhelming support of Western farmers to right this wrong and to see this day come to pass.
“But, I’m also here today to address another wrong, one that is closely tied to all of this.
“As you know, the fight to end the Wheat Board’s monopoly, Gerry made some reference to this, was not won without cost, without a price being paid by people who had the courage to challenge the injustice of the law by placing themselves in violation of it.
“Their acts were purely symbolic, of course.
“They did not riot.
“They broke no windows.
“Nobody was assaulted.
“No big profits were collected.
“No, just a few loads of grain were driven across the border, sometimes just a token sack of wheat in the back of a pickup truck.
“In one case, it was a gift of grain to a 4H Club.
“But, for acts such as these, those farmers were charged, they were hauled into court - literally in chains - convicted, fined and jailed.
“They were threatened.
“Equipment was seized.
“Lives were interrupted.
“But let me be clear about this.
“These people were not criminals.
“They were our fellow citizens.
“Citizens who protested injustice by submitting themselves peacefully to the consequences of challenging that injustice.
“Those consequences are what was wrong, and those wrongs we shall address today.
“Friends, to the authority of the Crown falls an ancient power, the Royal Prerogative of Mercy.
“It is a rare and significant thing for this power to be exercised.
“Well, ladies and gentlemen, today I am pleased to announce that it will be exercised.
“A group of farmers convicted under the old, unjust legislation of the Wheat Board monopoly will be pardoned by the government.
“For these courageous farmers, their convictions will no longer tarnish their good names.
“Let me just say this of these Canadians.
“They held firm.
“Their courage of conviction never faltered.
“And it is to them that much of this victory is owed, because it is to them that the consciousness of the country on this issue was really raised.
“And friends, by standing with them and by enabling Western farmers to freely market their wheat and barley, our Government has kept a solemn promise that dates back to the earliest days of our movement.
“And so, we have given justice to Western Canadian grain farmers.
“Our Government has simply given to Western Canadian grain farmers the exact same freedom that already belongs to similar farmers in the rest of this country.
“So what we have is dual marketing, something long supported by the vast majority, by virtually all, of the Members of Parliament whom the farmers in this part of the country elected, and long denied principally only by Members of Parliament whom farmers in this part of the country had not elected.
“But no more.
“Now, our Government, as you know friends, did not do this alone.
“I’d just like to single out a few, is Charlie Mayer with us today?
“What I want is, if Charlie were able to be here today, Charlie should be remembered, he was minister responsible for the Wheat Board a couple of decades ago, and Charlie was the guy who first took oats out from the Board’s monopoly, that was the first dent in the armour.
“So we thank Charlie.
“I also want to thank the pro-marketing-freedom members of the CWB’s Board of Directors, they held firm under enormous pressure and friends, you have no idea how much pressure.
“So please give your thanks to Jeff Neilson, Henry Voss and Jim Chatenay.
“And of course, our hosts today, the Walde family, stood tall and proud as they challenged the monopoly that is no more; and I’m sure that Art is looking down and smiling from ear to ear.
“So we think of him today.
“Now for me, I really should be recognizing all the members of caucus, past andp resent, who have fought for this, because things don’t get through Parliament without everybody putting their shoulder to the wheel.
“But it is a special privilege to recognize two friends and colleagues in particular.
“First of all, friends, not in 50 years have Canadian farmers had a champion in Ottawa like the Honourable Minister Gerry Ritz.
“Friends, he has your back.
“It was Gerry who got Cabinet approval for the Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act and who tabled it in the House of Commons.
“Right by his side stands another proud Saskatchewan farmer and Parliamentarian, David Anderson, MP for Cypress Hills – Grasslands.
“David has long fought hard for marketing freedom for his fellow farmers.
“And, as the Parliamentary Secretary for the Wheat Board, I don’t know if he’s going to keep that title or not, we still have the Wheat Board, he steered the legislation through the various stages of Parliament.
“And friends, I should tell you that the push to formally pardon farmers charged with violating the Wheat Board Act came from none other than David Anderson, so please give him a hand for spearheading that.
“Friends, marketing freedom matters.
“You know this well, Gerry and David - and all our MPs - know this very well.
“It will open the door to new investments and to value-added opportunities for Western agriculture.
“Indeed, it has already begun to do so.
“And not a moment too soon.
“As we all know, we’re in a global economy that is very fragile.
“But one of the many strengths that this country has is a solid and dynamic agricultural.
“Our Canadian farmers – in all provinces – are one of the foundations on which the strong, stable Canadian economy is built.
“And friends, you have my assurance, that our Government will continue to stand with farmers here and right across this country.
“Now look, let me just conclude by saying that this truly is a great day, but it really is all about the future.
“I have made it clear to everyone in Ottawa that having a majority does not mean it is time to take the foot off the gas.
“On the contrary, it’s time to put the pedal to the medal and to get things done.
“So as you celebrate today’s milestone, let’s never forget that Canada’s best days, and of course a new era of freedom for Western farm families, lies ahead.
“Thank you very much.”