Canadian Wheat Board pursues class action law suit
The Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board (FCWB), in consultation with the Canadian Wheat Board Alliance (CWBA) and other interested parties, this week announced that they are fully prepared to broaden their current legal challenge to Ottawa’s attempt to dismantle the CWB’s single-desk marketing authority. The Friends’ can and will file a class action lawsuit on behalf of participating prairie grain producers on short notice at the appropriate time.
Grandview, Manitoba, area farmer Larry Bohdanovich said that “it is clear that the Harper Government is pursuing a policy of confiscation without either consultation or compensation. This is totally unacceptable and prairie farmers will not take this lying down.”
“One of our legal avenues is to launch a class action lawsuit on behalf of prairie farmers to recover the value which will be lost should Minister Ritz succeed in ending the single desk,” observed Gilbert Ferre, a grain producer at Zenon Park, Saskatchewan, and the acting Chair of the Canadian Wheat Board Alliance. “Our legal counsel is prepared to file a submission in court within days if necessary.”
“We continue to hope that the courts will uphold Justice Campbell’s ruling that Ritz’ Bill C-18 legislation is ‘an affront to the rule of law’ and that the need to sue for compensation will be unnecessary,” said Stewart Wells, an organic grain producer at Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and one of the eight recently dismissed farmer-elected Directors of the Wheat Board. “But if the worst happens, farmers will demand full compensation from the Federal Government for the consequences of its undemocratic actions.”
Wells went on to say, “We believe farmers’ interests would be best served by a broader legal challenge mounted by the Friends of the CWB, the CWB Alliance, and other membership-based organizations because they represent a wider range and a greater depth of experience and knowledge on Wheat Board issues. Over the last several months, these cooperating groups have been conducting research to gather and document evidence to support a comprehensive claim for compensation.”
“Farmers must receive appropriate compensation should Ottawa succeed in ignoring the wishes of the majority of farmers who have consistently voted to retain the single-desk marketing advantage,” said Laurence Nicholson, an irrigation farmer at Seven Persons, Alberta. “Our claim will be developed in the western farm tradition of cooperation and service-at-cost so that the true costs of destroying our Wheat Board will be borne by the people responsible in Ottawa.”
Anders Bruun, Legal Counsel for the Friends of the CWB, said that “the legal route seems to be the only way for prairie farmers to get the attention of the ideologically-driven Harper Government. Farmers are fortunate that they still live in a democracy where they have access to the courts and the rule of law ultimately prevails.”