Ex-CWB directors to appeal Man. court loss

The eight fired farmer-elected directors of the Canadian Wheat Board say they’ll appeal a Manitoba court’s refusal to intervene in the board’s deregulation.

The ex-directors, who were legislated out of their jobs upon the passage of federal Bill C-18 late last year, had filed a motion in December in Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench for a stay on C-18’s implementation.

Queen’s Bench Judge Shane Perlmutter on Feb. 24 dismissed the ex-directors’ motion, describing their case as "weak" with little to favour granting an injunction against C-18 on the basis of either "irreparable harm" or the "balance of convenience."

"After studying the ruling in detail, we have come to the conclusion that the ruling in Manitoba contains a number of errors that should be analyzed by an appeal court," ex-CWB chairman Allen Oberg of Forestburg, Alta. said in a release Tuesday.

The ex-directors had claimed C-18 violated section 47.1 of the Canadian Wheat Board Act — the soon-to-be-repealed legislation governing the board’s single-desk marketing authority over Prairie wheat and barley.

Their case stemmed in part from a separate Federal Court ruling late in 2011, on a case filed by the growers’ group Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board (FCWB).

At that time, Judge Douglas Campbell found Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz’s actions — introducing C-18 without first holding a farmer plebiscite as per 47.1 — to be "an affront to the rule of law." However, that ruling didn’t go so far as to order a halt on C-18’s passage.

"For 14 years, from 1998 to the end of 2011, everyone understood that the government had to follow (47.1) and conduct a farmer vote on significant changes to the CWB’s mandate," ex-director Kyle Korneychuk of Pelly, Sask. said in Tuesday’s release.

"It is ridiculous for the government to now argue that 47.1 did not extend to farmers the right to vote on important marketing changes. We believe that Justice Perlmutter was wrong in taking a restrictive approach to farmers’ right to vote."

Perlmutter said in February he is "not bound by (Campbell’s) decision" and instead ruled 47.1 does not deal with an all-out "revamping of the single desk," but rather the addition or subtraction of grains from the single-desk regime.

Perlmutter had also dismissed the notion that 47.1 is "manner and form" legislation — that is, a law whose language binds the development of any future legislation.

"Political tool"

Some staff are already being dismissed from the revamped CWB, which "will not return the full value of grain sales to farmers, and is quickly becoming a political tool of the grain companies and the government," ex-director Bill Toews of Kane, Man. said Tuesday.

"Grain companies quickly figured out that they do not need to kill the temporary CWB immediately when all they need to do is pinch off its feeding tube in the middle of the night in 24 or 36 months."

Other C-18-related court cases still pending include a proposed class-action suit and constitutional challenge the FCWB announced in February. The group said it would file in Federal Court in Ottawa to restore the pre-C-18 CWB and seek damages on Prairie farmers’ behalf.

The federal government, meanwhile, has said it would appeal Campbell’s December ruling.

No court date has been set for either the FCWB’s case or the government’s appeal, the ex-directors said Tuesday.

Related story:
CWB single-desk supporters file for new class action, Feb. 16, 2012

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