I was in a Quebec dairy barn in mid January. The smart, hard-working young couple running the show were about a month and a half into their new robot facility.
Now that cow flow and production were going as planned, there was another pressing worry occupying their minds. Their banker had said that in about 10 days time, they would know whether or not the $250,000 they had applied for in federal government funding to transition to CETA would be approved or not. They detailed for me the infrastructure plans they had for the funding “to go right back into the farm.”
They brightened up when I told them, two days earlier, in Ottawa, the Parliamentary Secretary of Agriculture, Jean-Claude Poissant, had said in his speech that there would be 75 per cent coverage for these applications. The speech was in French and Poissant left the meeting right after talking, so it wasn’t clear to me whether it was 75 cents being paid on every dollar requested in the applications or that 25 per cent of the applicants got rejected. Anyway, it was the best news they got that day.
By the time you’re reading this, the couple will either be overjoyed or despondent, but their particular government grant isn’t the point of this rant.
It’s merely an illustration of how dependent we have become on government, especially in Quebec. At present, over $5 billion in agriculture loans in Quebec are guaranteed to financial institutions by Societe Financiere Agricole, an arm of the provincial government.
Build a robot barn and the feds will, potentially, throw you a $250,000 grant on top of your Quebec government guaranteed loans. But no, there are no subsidies being paid by taxpayers for dairy farmers. None.
Government is conditioning us to be dependent and learn that government is our daddy. The father of one-half of this young farming couple tells a different story: One of fierce self-reliance. He recounted how he put three children, close in age, through university, “and I thought I was going to go broke” with them growing 25 acres of sweet corn and delivering it with cheap American beer at a mark up, over at the French campsite.
Today some politicians say government should up our dependence and just simply pay for it all. Free university. Really? And who pays those grants?
Also, emblematic of our time, is the recent fuss by church groups that they can’t access government funding for some youth camps, or other activities, if they don’t check the application box, agreeing with the government’s position that is pro-abortion. I’m in agreement with the outrage of these church organizations.
If a government gives out money, the government can, like you with your money, dictate who gets it, and for what. The federal government thinks the pro-abortion box to check is good politics. It whips up its voting base that sees religious people as oddballs who need to keep quiet, at best — dangerous zealots who need to be controlled, at worst.
None who, truth be told, voted Liberal.
So, what was the reaction to the government proclamation of “pro-abortion or no money?” There was a plea for the government to “make an exemption” and send the money anyway. A little too much deference, I’d say, when religious groups had the moral high ground to demand that government change a bigoted rule. If they still get left out they should tell the government to get stuffed and walk away from the summer jobs program.
I recently threw in the towel for a non-government cemetery that my clan has been buried in for generations. I was the only one wanting to fight for it to be a non-government-backed site.
“You know,” I told those taking it over, under government control, “in not too many years you will have to, by government decree, bury animals here, plus have a Muslim section.”
The only certainty now is, I won’t be buried there under government control beside my late wife and baby son.
Sometimes you have to take a stand.
Ian Cumming is a former Glengarry County dairy farmer and now farms with his son in northern New York state.