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New lawsuit claims CWB kept $145 million of farmers’ money

Brookdale Manitoba farmer Andrew Dennis has filed a statement of claim in the Manitoba Court of Queens Bench claiming the now-defunct Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) withheld money owed to farmers to help finance its transition to a private grain company.

Dennis is seeking certification of a class action lawsuit on behalf of all farmers who delivered wheat and barley to the single desk marketing agency during the two crop years preceding the end of its monopoly on marketing in 2012.

The statement of claim names the Government of Canada, G3 Global Grain Group and G3 Limited as Defendants. G3 is the private entity which acquired the CWB following a July 31, 2015, transaction.

“When we were reviewing the CWB’s Annual Reports for 2010-11 and 2011-12, it appeared that $145 million, which should have been paid to farmers as part of their final payment, had been withheld and transferred to the CWB’s Contingency Fund,” said Dennis in a release.

“This claim is about establishing accountability for the disposition of the Canadian Wheat Board, allocating financial responsibility to the appropriate parties, and ultimately getting any funds recovered back to prairie farmers,” said Stewart Wells, a farmer from Swift Current, Saskatchewan and chairperson of the Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board.

Anders Bruun, one of the lead lawyers for the plaintiff went on to note that “Some restructuring expenses were paid from the pooling accounts, but the Contingency Fund appears to be the largest single source of apparently misappropriated funds.”

Dennis was previously part of a claim against the government and the CWB in the Federal Court. On May 15, 2017, his lawyers will be seeking leave to discontinue the Federal Court proceeding in favour of the Manitoba Court Class Action.

Bruun is representing the lead plaintiff together with Steven Shrybman of Goldblatt Partners, a Toronto and Ottawa law firm specializing in class actions and Jordan Goldblatt of Adair Barristers, Toronto which also has substantial class action litigation experience.

The statement of claim may be viewed and/or downloaded at www.cwbafacts.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/SOC-Manitoba-Apr-24-2017.pdf.

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