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Supreme court rules against Canadian Wheat Board backers

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OTTAWA - The Supreme Court of Canada today denied Canadian Wheat Board backers the chance to appeal a court decision which let the federal government end the board's monopoly last year.

The SCC denied leave to appeal to both the Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board and former CWB chair Allan Oberg.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said he was pleased by the decision.

"The overwhelming majority of Prairie grain farmers are already taking advantage of the benefits of an open market," he said.

"Our Government will continue to defend the rights of farmers and work with them to strengthen Canadian agriculture and our overall economy."

Ritz was in Manitoba Wednesday meeting with local farmers and announcing funding to help Manitoba food processors.

The groups were trying to have the country's highest court hear a challenge to a Federal Court of Appeal decision from June 2012 which ruled a lower court judge erred in saying Ritz broke the law when he amended the Canadian Wheat Board Act in 2011 without holding a vote among farmers.

Ritz changed the act to allow prairie farmers to choose on their own whether to sell their wheat and barley to the CWB or to other grain companies.

Wheat Board supporters were buoyed in December 2011 when Justice Douglas Campbell ruled Ritz had contravened the act. However Campbell wasn't asked to pass judgement on the bill amending the CWB act, so his judgement stood almost as irrelevant, particularly when a Manitoba judge then refused to grant an injunction against implementing the bill.

Nonetheless, the federal government appealed Campbell's ruling and the appeal court agreed, saying the provision in the CWB Act which required a vote among farmers was likely unenforceable because it took away the power of Parliament.

Stewart Wells, chair of the Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board, said the Supreme Court refusing to hear the case has no bearing on a class action lawsuit seeking to restore the CWB or sue for $17 billion in damages. That is the amount the group says farmers will lose by having the monopoly eliminated.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 10:47 AM CST: Updated

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