Wheat Board: Federal Government Appeals Court Ruling That Said It Broke Law
OTTAWA - Ottawa is appealing a Federal Court ruling that said the government's plan to reform the Canadian Wheat Board has broken the law.
The government also promised Friday that it will push ahead with the changes.
"Western farmers should continue to plan on having the same freedom as other farmers in Canada so that they too can market their grains in the best interests of their individual farms,” Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in a written statement.
Ritz has introduced a bill in Parliament to amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act. It would end the board's monopoly on western wheat and barley sales by next August.
On Wednesday, Justice Douglas Campbell ruled that the bill violates the act, which requires any changes to be subject to a plebiscite among producers.
But Campbell did not overturn the amendment. He made it clear he was simply issuing a statement on the government's actions and it would be up to the government to decide how to proceed.
Members of the Canadian Wheat Board, which filed the court challenge, are hoping the ruling will make the government rescind its changes.
As part of the appeal, government lawyers are expected to argue that Parliament has every right to amend or repeal laws. It's the same argument they made earlier this week — that no Parliament can pass a law which hinders a future government from making changes.
The government's plan to end the monopoly by next Aug. 1 has divided farmers.
Supporters say the single desk prevents producers from competing against each other for sales.
Detractors say they want the freedom to seek better deals on the open market. They point out that producers of other grains, as well as wheat farmers in other parts of Canada, already have that freedom.
— By Steve Lambert in Winnipeg