November 2, 2011
Canadian Wheat Board takes legal action against federal government
Canadian Wheat Board's (CWB) board of directors have filed a lawsuit against the federal government in defence of Prairie farmers' democratic rights.
The agency, which acts as the single buyer of wheat and barley from western Canadian farmers, said it would argue before the Federal Court of Canada that the Canadian government violated the law when it introduced legislation to repeal the CWB of its powers. According to the wheat board, the current law compels federal authorities to conduct a plebiscite of affected producers, which it didn't do.
The CWB conducted its own plebiscite during the summer. Almost 40,000 producers participated, with 62% voting to retain the single desk marketing system for wheat.
The board's plebiscite didn't influence the Conservative government, with Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz introducing legislation last week that would strip the agency of its powers.
"Not only is this government ignoring farmers' wishes, it plans to fire the 10 directors who are elected directly by farmers to run the CWB," Oberg said. "If it can remove a democratically elected board simply because we disagree with them, Canadians should ask themselves who's next on their hit list. If they can ram this important legislation through Parliament by limiting debate, where does it end?
Oberg said the lawsuit is intended to persuade the government to change its mind but stopped short of suggesting the board wants to stop the government from implementing its proposed legislation.
One such elected board member has resigned due to the board's decision to take legal action against the government. Henry Vos, who represents farmers in northern Alberta and northern British Columbia, said in a letter the wheat board's lawsuit decision "is simply wrong," because it's clear it would not change the outcome or timing of the government's actions.
The suit, was filed on the 26th October in federal court.