Wheat Board allies vow to continue fight against gov’t
By Will Chabun, Leader-Post February 28, 2012 11:08 AM
REGINA — The legal and political fight to save the Canadian Wheat Board as the monopoly marketer of western Canadian Wheat isn’t over yet, says one of the former CWB directors who took the matter to court.
“We’re ready for a long fight,” Kyle Korneychuk said Monday, in the wake of a Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench judgment that rejected an application for an injunction to halt the stripping of the board’s monopoly status until farmers have voted on the issue.
Korneychuk said the ex-directors who brought this legal action have not yet decided if they’ll appeal Friday’s ruling by Justice Shane Perlmutter.
This decision has added another twist to the drama that began in December, when a federal court judge in Winnipeg ruled the federal agriculture minister broke the law when he introduced legislation removing the board’s monopoly — legislation that has long since passed — without letting producers first vote on the changes.
Korneychuk said he was concerned by Perlmutter’s comment that he found this breach of law to be less significant than, say, a lawyer’s violation of privileged communication with his client or a government’s failure to translate bills into an official language.
On the other side of the issue, the Western Canada Wheat Growers is “delighted” by the ruling and said it “removes any lingering doubt over whether we will gain an open market in wheat and barely on Aug. 1.”But Korneychuk replied there are several other anti-change legal actions going forward, including a class-action suit and another action challenging the validity of the government’s wheat board legislation.
Politically, his group of ex-directors has “been hearing that lots of other farmers aren’t too happy” with Ottawa, and he said he’s been told that users of short-line railways and producer cars worry these could be in jeopardy.
The entire matter has gone past being only a grain-marketing issue and become “an issue of democracy,” said Korneychuk, who added the federal government could end the legal skirmishing by simply letting producers vote on the change, as required by the old legislation covering the wheat board. “If we’re in the minority, have a simple vote,” he said.
Meanwhile, another group opposed to the CWB changes holds its annual meeting in Regina this weekend. The Canadian Wheat Board Alliance will hear from former CWB directors, opposition MPs, from retired University of Regina professor Jim Harding on the threat from “wedge politics” and from retired University of Toronto professor Peter Russell on why challenging the federal government’s wheat board legislation is “the right thing to do”.
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