Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Harper pardons farmers for selling grain in U.S.

  • Print

KINDERSLEY, Sask. -- Western Canadian farmers who were convicted in the 1990s for taking their grain across the border to sell in the U.S. have been pardoned.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the pardons Wednesday on a farm near Kindersley, Sask., where he and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz marked what the government calls marketing freedom day.

New federal legislation kicked in Wednesday to end the Canadian Wheat Board's decades-long monopoly on western wheat and barley sales. That means western farmers can sell their grain to whomever they choose, whenever they choose instead of having to go through the board.

"These people were not criminals. They were our fellow citizens," the prime minister said to cheers from hundreds of invited farmers who gathered to support the change to the wheat board.

Jim Chatenay, one of the pardoned farmers, said he was "overwhelmed with happiness."

"Now we can have everything in our favour... It's just a glorious, wonderful day and this was well worth the wait."

The farmers were trying to get around a law at the time that said they had to sell their wheat and barley through the Canadian Wheat Board or get export permits from the agency.

Chatenay ran into trouble in 1996. The Alberta rancher was told to pay a $4,000 fine or face 64 days in jail for driving across the border to donate a bag of wheat to a 4H club in Montana. The case was in and out of court until 2002 when Chatenay was jailed.

"The time was long and slow. Played a lot of cards. Lockdowns were a little painful and scary 'cause every once in a while we'd have to get moved around a little bit," he recalled.

In the end, Chatenay served 23 days.

Harper said the farmers who drove small amounts of grain across the border in symbolic rebellion were responsible for first raising the monopoly issue in the minds of Canadians.

"For these courageous farmers, their convictions will no longer tarnish their good names... it is to them that much of this victory is owed."

The grain growers belonged to a loosely knit group called Farmers for Justice. They would often have their vehicles or equipment seized at the border, and in some cases were charged and convicted for breaking the law. At least one producer spent several months in jail.

There are farmers who still support the monopoly. They worry the open market will leave them at the mercy of railways and large grain companies.

The group Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board said in a news release Wednesday the change will hit farmers in the pocketbook.

"There is no longer any meaningful influence by farmers inside the grain trade," said group chairman Stewart Wells.

In Winnipeg, the revamped wheat board started the first day of the new crop year with the announcement of another grain-handling deal with one of the country's largest agribusinesses. Richardson International of Winnipeg will accept grain deliveries from farmers with wheat board contracts at all its locations in Western Canada.

With the loss of its monopoly, the board, which does not own any of its own terminals, must sign contracts with companies that can handle farmers' grain.

Wheat board president Ian White said the agency now has more than 170 locations across the West where producers can deliver their crops.

New Democrat MP Pat Martin has said the Conservatives are gloating about killing what he calls the most successful grain marketing company in the world.

Liberal Ralph Goodale, minister responsible for the wheat board when his party was in power, suggested an independent organization should monitor what happens in the marketplace to see if farmers are better or worse off.


-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 2, 2012 B3

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Total Body Tune-Up: Farmer's Carry

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 090728 / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS White Pelicans belly up to the sushi bar Tuesday afternoon at Lockport. One of North America's largest birds is a common sight along the Red RIver and on Lake Winnipeg. Here the fight each other for fish near the base of Red RIver's control structure, giving human fisher's downstream a run for their money.
  • A nesting goose sits on the roof of GoodLife Fitness at 143 Nature Way near Kenaston as the morning sun comes up Wednesday morning- See Bryksa’s Goose a Day Photo- Day 07- Web crop-May 09, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Do you agree with the sale of the Canadian Wheat Board to foreign companies?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google