Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Crucial wheat board ruling due today in Winnipeg court

  • Print

A ruling today by a Federal Court judge could derail the Harper government's legislation to end the Canadian Wheat Board's exclusive powers to market wheat and barley.

Justice Douglas Campbell will rule whether Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz broke the law when he introduced Bill C-18 this fall without consulting with the wheat board or holding a plebiscite of Prairie grain farmers.

The Canadian Wheat Board argued in court Tuesday Ritz ran afoul of the Canadian Wheat Board Act when he introduced the legislation Oct. 18. The Conservatives fast-tracked the bill through the House of Commons -- invoking closure and limiting who could speak to it at the committee stage. The Senate is considering it.

The wheat board and a group called Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board filed separate but similar applications in Federal Court challenging the government's bid to end the CWB monopoly without the farm vote they said is required by law.

The judge heard more than six hours of arguments before a packed courtroom on Tuesday, declaring he would issue a written ruling on both applications today. He'd had written arguments from the CWB, the Friends, the federal government and two intervenors for weeks.

On Tuesday, seven of eight farmer-elected CWB directors named in its application were in court to observe the proceedings. They appeared delighted the judge would rule today.

CWB chairman Allen Oberg, an Alberta farmer, said afterwards a favourable ruling should force the Harper government to hold a vote on the wheat board's sales monopoly.

"We would expect the federal government to respect the decision and obey the law and the declaration that this court makes," he said.

Bill C-18 would create an open market for Prairie wheat and barley for the first time in generations. It's unclear what role -- if any -- an emasculated CWB could play in the future.

The court case -- the latest in several court actions over the years between the wheat board and the Harper government -- hinges on whether the court accepts the argument that section 47.1 of the Canadian Wheat Board Act requires Ottawa to hold a farm vote.

Federal lawyer Robert MacKinnon said the lawsuits filed by the CWB and the Friends constitute "an improper attempt to interfere with the legislative process" and "an improper attempt to challenge Bill C-18 before it's enacted."

Failing that, the federal lawyers argued, section 47.1 does not require the minister to hold a plebiscite before introducing a bill to end the CWB's sales monopoly. A vote is only required under the wheat board act if a specific grain is to be added to or subtracted from the CWB's sales mandate. The CWB and the Friends called that argument absurd.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 7, 2011 A5

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

    No

  • 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 winnipegfreepress.com. 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 winnipegfreepress.com. 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.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Winnipeg Cheapskate: Cheap summer weekends

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A red squirrel peaks out of the shade in a tree in East Fort Garry, Sunday, September 9, 2012. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Someone or thing is taking advantage of the inactivity at Kapyong Barracks,hundreds of Canada Geese-See Joe Bryksa’s goose a day for 30 days challenge- Day 15- May 22, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you like Gord Steeves’ idea to sell four city-owned golf courses to fund road renewal?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google