WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA — Directors of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) announced on Dec. 14 that they have launched legal action to stop implementation of federal legislation that would end the CWB’s monopoly.
"Farmers were promised by successive federal governments, including the current minister and his predecessor, that any changes to the CWB's marketing mandate would be put to a producer vote, as required by law," CWB chair Allen Oberg said at a news conference. "The Harper government has reneged on that promise. It is now breaking the law and ignoring an order of the Federal Court. This must stop. We want farmers' democratic rights to be respected and the government to stop acting as if it is above the law."
The CWB will file an application in Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench, asking it to rule Bill C-18 invalid because it violates the rule of law. The CWB is also asking the court to issue an order preventing implementation of Bill C-18 until it makes a decision on the validity of the Bill.
Last week, the Federal Court of Canada ruled that Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz contravened the law when he caused the bill to be introduced without first conducting a farmer vote as required by 1998 amendments to the Canadian Wheat Board Act. Despite this ruling, the government is proceeding with the legislation.
"Such disregard for a court order is virtually unprecedented in Canada," Oberg said. "It is unconscionable for a government in a Parliamentary democracy to proceed with legislation in the face of a court order that has declared it illegal."