Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hidden & Stacked Meetings are not Fair to Ontario Stakeholders

Do Small Flockers and advocates for affordable &/or locally produced food need & deserve a fair process for their issues before OMAFRA, OFPMC, CFO, AOCP, and other Stakeholders?

I previously posted about how all of Northern Ontario was left out in the cold on this consultation, but this was corrected at the last minute after bitter complaints by a handful of Northern Ontario advocate farmers (see Blog posting Distractions or Consultations by CFO? ).

Some stakeholders that attended one of CFO's meetings on quota allocation were very pleased with the openness exhibited by CFO and other Supply Management ("SM") supporters.

However, they were concerned with the relatively poor turnout by Small Flockers, food advocates, and other non-SM stakeholders.  Was this a non-issue to these other stakeholders, or was there a reason for the low attendance?

It is suggested that the majority of Small Flockers do not read the agriculture Blogs, magazines, and Internet sites on a daily basis.

Secondly, CFO may have published about the meetings on their website (see ), but Small Flockers and food advocates don't scan CFO's website on a daily basis either.

CFO has a database of all 15,500 Small Flockers in Ontario, but as far as I know, CFO didn't lift a finger to notify any of them by that method.  I know, because I am listed in that database, but I never received notice from CFO.  It was only by a phone call from Max Burt that I learned about these meetings before they were all over & done with.

CFO didn't bother issuing a press release that I can find on CFO's website.  None of the farm papers, farm magazines, or Agriculture Internet websites had any advance warning on this important consultation issue that I have been able to find.

There is a short article on Better Farming website dated Jan. 12th, 2015, saying the CFO's consultation process was wrapping up, almost complete.  At that point, 9 of the scheduled meetings had already concluded.

Ontario's Farm Product Marketing Commission ("OFPMC", the government body that is supposed to supervise and approve CFO's actions) does have a short info posting of unknown date (see  ) that refers the reader to CFO's website on these consultation meetings.  Again, few to no Small Flockers or food advocates regularly read OFPMC's website.

Similarly, OMAFRA's website has a small mention under What's New that refers to the consultations and  CFO's website.   It's as if everybody wants to do the least possible, but needs some token mention in case somebody complains, thereby avoiding the obvious bias.

These actions are similar to the often used technique of politicians releasing a damaging report late Friday before a long weekend.  Only the most diligent reporter or politician in the opposition is there, watching to bring this slight of hard by the mandarins of power to the public's attention.

However, it seems CFO, AOCP, and the other Supply Management Overlords notified all of their supporters and cronies, notifying them fully, early, and repeatedly, so as to maximize their attendance, then likely beat the bushes to ensure they showed up at the meeting.

Above and beyond immediate stakeholders, don't everyday consumers get a voice?  On their website, CFO notes meetings held on Jan. 19th and 27th that were open to the public (as opposed to special interest groups for all the other meetings).  Who notified the public, and how was fair notice provided for these meetings?  Why wasn't there CFO and/or OFPMC and/or OMAFRA press releases to the Globe & Mail, National Post, and every major daily paper throughout Ontario?  If free notice wasn't provided to the public by the major papers as news, shouldn't CFO have purchased reasonably sized ad space?  How fair is that, to inadvertently or purposefully hide the meetings from consumers?

Would the Chicken Mafia Overlords go so far as offering free quota or other enticements to any SM supporters who showed up at the meetings and behaved themselves by fully supporting and vocalizing the Chicken Mafia's well rehearsed propaganda soundbites?

When CFO is looking for feedback, is it a fair process to use every available means to stack the meetings?

Maybe CFO really isn't looking for feedback.  Maybe CFO is trying to save themselves from the wind of change that is blowing SM up onto a rocky shore.

I hear (from reliable sources whom I believe) that both CFO and OFPMC are under severe pressure from OMAFRA to be more open, transparent, accountable, and responsive to consumer's demand for diversified quality and specifications in Ontario's chicken supply, and especially local food sources for Ontario chicken (ie. Small Flockers).

While CFO is being pressured, they appear to be using every trick in the book to avoid, distract, stonewall, resist, and sabotage the voice of Ontario's consumers who want change in their Supply Management systems.

This is going to get interesting, really soon.

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