Canadian Wheat Board Should Be Bought Back From The Saudis, Union Urges

OTTAWA — A union representing transportation workers in Churchill, Man., is calling on Ottawa to buy back the Canadian Wheat Board from a Saudi consortium in light of the diplomatic spat between the two countries.

The Union of Canadian Transportation Employees which represents Churchill port workers says Saudi Arabia’s decision to stop buying Canadian wheat and barley shows it won’t put the interests of grain farmers first.

Earlier this month, the kingdom suspended diplomatic relations with Canada, expelled the Canadian ambassador and ordered students studying in Canada to leave the country in response to a series of tweets by Ottawa criticizing the arrest of some social activists there.

Union president Dave Clark says having a foreign country managing an important Canadian asset is wrong and should be reversed.

G3 Canada Ltd., a joint venture between Bunge Canada and a subsidiary of the Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Co., bought a majority stake in the wheat board after it was privatized in 2012.

The union says a reduction of grain passing through the port since the sale has hurt the community and port workers.