Court Rules That Conservative Ag Minister Ritz Broke The Law On Canadian Wheat Board Legislation - (good thing Harper is building more prison space ....)
Justice Douglas Campbell
Federal Court Judge
December 7, 2011
"A Federal Court judge has declared that Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz broke the law when he introduced a bill to remove the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly without consulting the CWB or holding a Prairie farm plebiscite on the issue.
Bill C-18 is now before the Senate.
The court ruling was posted on the Federal Court website just before 1 p.m.
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz will hold a news conference at 2:15 to comment on the ruling.
The chairman of the wheat board’s farmer-controlled board of directors immediately issued a news release calling on Ottawa to respect the court decision.
"We call on Minister Ritz to comply with the spirit of this ruling and immediately cease actions that would strip away Prairie farmers’ single-desk marketing system without first allowing a vote by affected producers," Allen Oberg said from Ottawa, where he is preparing to address a Senate committee Thursday, asking senators to halt passage of Bill C-18.
The legislation, if passed, would enable the government to dismantle the CWB single desk for western Canadian wheat and barley, without first having held a producer plebiscite as required under Section 47.1 of the Canadian Wheat Board Act.
The ruling was issued by Justice Douglas Campbell of the Federal Court of Canada. On Tuesday, he heard more than six hours of arguments in Winnipeg from the federal government, the wheat board, a group called Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board and two interveners.
In his ruling Campbell wrote: "Generally speaking, when advancing a significant change to an established management scheme, the failure to provide a meaningful opportunity for dissenting voices to be heard and accommodated forces resort to legal means to have them heard….Had a meaningful consultative process been engage to find a solution which meets the concerns of the majority, the present legal action might not have been necessary."
Oberg said farmers should have the final say over changes to their grain marketing agency.. "As farmers, we pay for the CWB, we run it and we should decide what happens to it. We are pleased the court has agreed that the minister acted in violation of laws created in 1998 to empower farmers and give them a direct say in any changes contemplated to the CWB’s marketing mandate. In light of this ruling, the government should stop steamrolling over farmers’ democratic rights.
"The minister now needs to do the right thing, obey the law and hold a vote – as he should have done from the beginning."
Oberg and CWB farmer-elected director Stewart Wells appear Thursday morning before a Senate committee considering passage of Bill C-18. Oberg said the court ruling brings additional impetus for senators to reject the Bill."
Winnipeg Free Press