FP News Top Story
Court of Appeal overturns wheat board ruling
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz did not break the law when he introduced legislation to rid the Canadian Wheat Board of its monopoly on wheat and barley sales, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled today in overturning a lower court ruling.
A three-member Appeal court panel disagreed with Federal Court Justice Douglas Campbell that Ritz contravened the Canadian Wheat Board Act by not holding a vote among farmers before introducing his Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act (Bill C-18). Campbell made the ruling last December.
Writing on behalf of his colleagues, Federal Appeal Court Justice Robert M. Mainville said he had "serious reservations" about the enforceability of section 47.1 of the Canadian Wheat Board Act, on which the case rested.
A group called the Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board and others had argued the section bound Ritz to holding a vote of Prairie farmers before introducing the legislation. Campbell agreed with them.
But the Federal Court of Appeal disagreed.
"A provision requiring that legislation be introduced into Parliament only insofar as an outside corporation or small outside group agrees does not appear to me to be merely a procedural requirement," Mainville wrote.
"The effect of such a provision is to relinquish Parliament’s powers in the hands of a small group not forming part of Parliament. I seriously doubt such a provision could be used to impede the introduction of legislation in Parliament or could result in the invalidation of any subsequent legislation adopted by Parliament…"
Despite the initial ruling, Ottawa pressed ahead with its legislation. As of Aug. 1, 2012, farmers will no longer be forced to market their wheat and barley through the CWB.
Meanwhile, the Friends and others have launched class action suits against Ottawa for eliminating the CWB’s single desk marketing powers.