The Federal Court of Appeal ruled that Ottawa did not break the law
By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
The controversy over the existence of the Canadian Wheat Board has been stirring since the Conservatives had promised to end the monopoly when they came into power. On Monday, the Federal Court of Appeal overruled that Ottawa did not break the law when it stripped the Canadian Wheat Board of its monopoly, touting that there is nothing to prevent the government from changing its own law in Parliament.
“I have found nothing in the record which leads to the conclusion that the repeal of the single desk as a whole or of the [Canadian Wheat Board Act] in its entirety were somehow made conditional to obtaining the prior consent of the CWB or of grain producers,” Justice Robert Mainville wrote in the ruling.
This was after a lower court had ruled back in December that Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz legally should have held a plebiscite vote among farmers before introducing the legislation. The monopoly over grain in Western Canada has been a safeguarded since the 1940s with farmers obliged to sell their wheat and barley directly the board. Putting an end to the wheat board has been on the Conservative agenda chopping block some time, and they have always maintained that farmers should have the option of selling their grain independently to whomever they choose.
But the reactions have been mixed with some farm groups commending the government’s decision, noting that farmers can get better prices on the open market, while supporters of the monopoly including wheat board directors and some producers arguing that they lose marketing power allowing producers to be at the whim of large grain handlers. Minister Ritz wrote in a statement that “farmers are moving forward and contracting their wheat and barley with buyers of their choice for delivery beginning Aug. 1, 2012.”