“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”
I always thought that wonderful quote originated with Mark Train or maybe Will Rogers. In fact it came from Charles Dudley Warner, an American newspaperman in the 1890’s.
As we labour on through the winter from hell, that quote could also apply to the movement of grain on the prairies. Much of the bumper harvest from 2013 is still a long way from getting to market, and there are no shortage of people wanting to talk about it.
Brad Wall is still the most popular premier in the land, and Saskatchewan is hurting more than anyone over the backlog on the rail lines. This past week, Mr. Wall said perhaps it’s time to look at moving grain and other commodities through the United States.
Brad Wall audio: “I just fundamentally think it’s time we look at every option and maybe increase options we have for moving these commodities.”
I doubt that Uncle Brad was really all that serious, but he got lots of attention. Gerry Ritz, the federal Ag minister is also from Saskatchewan. He and Premier Wall are both Conservatives of one sort or another. You would think they would be on the same page. The best that Ritz can do is huff and puff about the railways.
Gerry Ritz audio: “We will not let farmers and our global market stability be held hostage by unacceptable rail service. But when push comes to shove, Ottawa is not likely to do anything.”
For their part, the railways blame – what else – the weather. They say the deep freeze prevents them from running longer trains, because they’re worried that the brakes might fail going through the mountains.
Canada used to enjoy a great reputation as a reliable exporter of grain from the world’s breadbasket. We used to sneer at the Russians who were able to grow lots of grain, but were unable to move it anywhere.
That was then, this is now, and it’s driving folks crazy on the prairies.
I’m Roger Currie