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Feds sued over CWB election spending changes

A Prairie farmers’ group says it has filed a lawsuit against the federal government over its removal of a spending cap on third-party campaigning in upcoming Canadian Wheat Board director elections.

In a release Wednesday, the group Friends of the CWB said it plans to argue in court that the federal government’s recent amendment to regulations on the election of CWB directors “was enacted in an improper manner and that it violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

The government’s amendment, enacted Sept. 5, effectively ends the $10,000 spending restriction on advertising expenses for third-party intervenors.

Winnipeg lawyer Anders Bruun, representing Friends of the CWB, said the regulatory amendment “pits farmer candidates, who are subject to a $15,000 election spending cap, against third parties who are now permitted to spend unlimited amounts of money without accountability to farmers.”

“We believe the government is again acting illegally, this time gerrymandering with the CWB director elections to favour anti-CWB candidates and their supporters,” said Bill Woods, a farmer from Eston, Sask., in the group’s release.

According to the federal government’s announcement Friday, third parties who spend money on CWB election ads will still be required to file a statement with the CWB election co-ordinator providing the name of each donor who donates more than $100, as well as the amount of the donation.

Third parties also must provide an accounting of the advertising expenses made during the election, and a statutory declaration as to the accuracy and completeness of that information.

“This change will enable a broad debate and participation in (CWB) elections of directors,” the government said.

The National Farmers Union last week blasted the government’s move as an attempt “to leverage corporate money to support its pet project.”

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