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Saskatoon StarPhoenix (Canada)

Wheat board announces election results

December 30, 2004

The Canadian Wheat Board announced the results of the first half of its director elections Wednesday, just days after a court ruling that criticized the board for leaving some producers off voters lists.

The winning candidates announced Wednesday will represent the board's five even-numbered districts.

Jim Chatenay of Red Deer, Alta., was acclaimed in District 2; Ken Ritter of Kindersley was elected in District 4; Ian McCreary of Bladworth will represent District 6; Rod Flaman from Edenwold was chosen in District 8; and Bill Toews of Kane, Man., was elected in District 10.

"The voters and candidates have demonstrated tremendous interest in the . . . elections over the past four months," said election co-ordinator Peter Eckersley in a news release.

"The people who know grain farming the best -- the producers -- have had their voice heard and have elected the individuals whom they believe will best represent their interests."

The vote was conducted using a mail-in preferential voting system that allowed producers to rank candidates in their order of preference.

Eckersley said the overall ballot response was 32.7 per cent.

There are a total of 15 directors on the wheat board -- 10 elected by farmers in Western Canada, and the other five appointed by the federal government.

Last week board officials said they would improve the way the elections are conducted after a computer glitch resulted in some names being omitted from the voter list.

Art Mainil, a farmer who opposes the board's monopoly on wheat and barley exports, sought a court injunction earlier this month alleging election irregularities. A federal judge ruled against Mainil's bid to delay the announcement of the results, but left the door open for a judicial review of the board's election process.

Eckersley said two problems occurred during the election -- about 200 producers were assigned to vote in a wrong district, and 792 producers were left off the original voters list -- but both problems were solved before the votes were counted.

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