Agriculture Minister breached Wheat Board Act, judge rules (from Globe and Mail)

Paul Waldie

WINNIPEG— Globe and Mail Update

Last updated Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2011 2:30PM EST

A federal court judge has dealt a blow to the federal government's plan to end the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly over the sale of wheat grown in Western Canada.

In a ruling today, Federal Court Judge Douglas Campbell said the government violated the Canadian Wheat Board Act by not holding a vote among farmers before introducing legislation eliminating the Wheat Board's monopoly position.

Judge Campbell admonished the government for not consulting with farmers and “simply pushing ahead” with plans to essentially abolish the board. “Had a meaningful consultative process been engaged to find a solution which meets the concerns of the majority, the present legal action might not have been necessary,” the judge ruled. He added that the government had to be “held accountable for [its] disregard for the rule of law.”

“We call on [Agriculture Minister Gerry] Ritz to comply with the spirit of this ruling and immediately cease actions that would strip away Prairie farmers’ single-desk marketing system without first allowing a vote by affected producers,” Wheat Board chairman Allen Oberg said in a statement.

Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Diane Finley announced government will appeal the ruling.

“We believe in marketing freedom for farmers,” she told the House of Commons.