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A victory for the Wheat Board over Harper and Strahl’s underhandedness.

Great news tonight. The Federal Court of Canada says if Deceivin’ Stephen and Chuckie Strahl want to change the Wheat Board’s ability to market barley, its going to have to do it properly thru Parliament, and not bypass it like they attempted:

A judge has struck down the federal government’s move to strip the Canadian Wheat Board of its monopoly on western barley sales. In a ruling issued Tuesday, Federal Court Judge Dolores Hansen said the government overstepped its authority in trying to end the monopoly through a simple cabinet order… The government changed the board’s barley-handling through regulations approved by the Conservative cabinet. Critics successfully argued the change can only be made by passing a law in Parliament — something that could be blocked by the opposition.

The Conservatives attempted this end-around of Parliament because they know they dont have the votes to do any major changes, but now, they have no choice. Their ending of the Wheat Board as sole marketer of barley was to take place August 1, so this ruling comes in the nick of time. They can appeal this to the Supreme Court of Canada, of course, which I wouldnt be surprised if they do, but this is a major setback for Harper, and a victory for democracy.

Parliament is what determines the laws of this land, and Harper and his Conservative clones may not like it, but in a minority government, you don’t always get your way. Thankfully, the courts have pointed out that trying to cheat to impose your minority views on the rest of the country isn’t the answer either.

UPDATE: 11:12 Pm – Steve has his take on the topic here.
UPDATE: 12:15 am – The Jurist is relieved that the courts weren’t fooled by the Cons. underhandedness here
UPDATE:  12:55 am – Chucky Strahl, obviously smarting from the slap in the face just given him by the Federal Court, issues a snotty, whiny statement.


28 comments to A victory for the Wheat Board over Harper and Strahl’s underhandedness.

  • Aaron, I took the liberty of fixing your last sentence. It reads correctly now.

    Eventually Harper is going to have to learn that minority parliaments are about compromise and not just obstruction

  • Obviously some sort of compromise is needed between the Strahl position and keeping the wheat board monopoly intact. Eventually Dion is going to have to learn that minority parliaments are about compromise and not just obstruction.

  • Scott, and everyone.

    Not only was the CWB originally introduced by a PC government it did so under extreme pressure from who?…. waiting…. waiting… waiting…

    Yes, Western Canadian grain producers

    And why did those producers want it so badly?…. waiting…. waiting… waiting…

    Gee, could it have been price certainty.

    Quebec & Ontario wheat producers?
    First of all, it isn't the same grade/quality wheat as is grown in the West. Secondly. Quebec & Ontario comprise what? 2-3% of all the grain grown in Canada? And as Scott and others have mentioned, farmers in the East may not have to deal with the CWB but they do have to deal with their own provincial Marketing Boards and Co-ops. There is very little 'direct selling'.

    The loud rhetoric from the West (and before someone kneejerks again I live further West than pretty much all of you, but you can still go ahead and attack me for being French-Canadian if it makes you feel better) tells me they either don't know their own history or conveniently develop selective amnseia when it suits them.

    Fire away. I always wear flame retardant clothing anyway.

  • Ironic that it was the Progressive Conservatives who brought in the Wheat Board, but yet you're calling it as being only supported by Marxists. Last I looked, there were a lot of farmers who were in favour of keeping the milk board. Are they all Marxists? And yet, we now have the same lot saying we should do what the farmers want with the wheat board, when its pretty darn obvious to me that on a clearly worded question, the farmers would be in majority of keeping it.

    Seriously, Oldschool, you need to make up your mind on this.

  • Oldschool

    There is nothing democratic in a MONOPOLY . . . the “Progressives” that support this mentality don’t grow grain . . . the Wheat Board has made Western Cdn Farmers into the largest “Company Town” on the planet. Imagine if all of Ontario or Quebec manufacturers had to sell they products through one govt. run agency . . . It’s time to flush the Wheat Board and at the same time all the other boards from milk to vegetables and chickens, they are expensive and anti-free enterprise. But . . . I know you “progressives/marxists” will be against this!!!

  • "moved in and taken over Eastern Canada grain marketing????"

    No because we have smaller, decentralized farmer's coops, who sell to the companies. Ontario and Quebec farmers almost never sell direct – always through a coop or marketing board.

    That being said, Monsanto is buying up a great many farms in Kent and Lambton Counties and doing exactly what I said, but for corn. So yes, this is happening in Ontario, which is why I mentioned it. 

    Lets also not forget that all of the farms in Ontario and Quebec that engage in cash-crops like wheat and barley (which we used to grow) can be contained in a few block in Saskatchewan – our contribution is negligible.

    And as Scott said, the vote was vague and rigged to be so. If it is true that the majority of farmers do not want the CWB, have a simple yes no vote to that effect. And don't silence the Chairman of the Board that doesn't agree with that position, as Strahl did and don't disenfranchise thousands of farmers so they can't vote, as Strahl did.

    All dirty tricks trying for force to an ideological driven conclusion and to hell what the farmers really want.

    The vote was a sham but that never stops the CPC from bullying its way. Ah, democracy. Youshould try it sometime.

  • KC

    Im getting a kick out of how when the conservatives don't get the results they want through democratic processes they simply alter what "democracy" means.  Last time I checked "democracy" meant the vote of our elected representatives or a referendum of the public as a whole.  Since when did "democracy" mean a vote of the industry?  Does "democracy" now dictate that oil companies vote on what our energy policy is and the rest of us just butt out?  Should forest policy be dictated by MacBlo?  The same applies outside of industry.  I dont remember any conservatives saying that only homosexuals should be able to vote on gay marriage.  Ive never heard anyone saying that only potheads should make policy with respect to marijuana.

    Accept that the Conservatives do not have the votes in Parliament to dismantle the wheat pool and go back to trying to push your views through democratic processes. 

  • Actually.. a majority didnt vote to end the monopoly… there was no majority amongst the 3 way rigged plebiscite the Tories held

    When you also  had not exactly a great turnout of farmers participating, I deem that to be the farthest thing from the truth that the majority of farmers wanted to end the monopoly.

    As for your 2nd point, dont be ridiculous Wilson; It was as underhanded a tactic as Harper and Strahl could have done by trying to avoid the Parliament. Section 5 of the Wheat Board Act states that barley and wheat can only be removed from the jurisdiction of the CWB solely to an act of Parliament. The judge merely told the Tories to follow the Act's own law – which is what I thought you Conservatives were all for.. following the rule of law.

    Rest assured if the Liberals or anyone else had tried to say, reintroduce the National Energy Program thru an Order-in-Council, the Conservatives and the West would be crying to high heaven about it.

    In the end, I guess I'll have to give credit to Harper on 1 point where he actually told the truth; he said to the Canadian public not to worry about giving him a government, because the Senate and the Courts would keep him in rein. He was dead on about that (which isnt stopping him or his parrots like Wilson from crying about it).

  • wilson61

    Laws are interpreted and challenged everyday. 
    There is nothing dishonest, underhanded nor illegal with the Government's interpretation.
    One judge interpreted it differently.

    I would like to see barley growers unite and take the CWB to court for imposing costs onto the farmer for services NOT rendered. 

  • wilson61

    'How can anyone claim to stand for the will of farmers when they won't listen to them?'
    And you say that in the face of the MAJORITY of barley farmers voting in a plebicite to remove barley from the CWB monopoly?  
    As of 1998,  the CWB is supposed to be farmer controlled,  so the vote should stand ; Board Directors and Parliament should be compelled to rubberstamp the will of barley growers.

    The death of the family farm started many years ago,  Liberals ruled for 13 of those years while farm corporations took over family farms.  

    Ontario and Quebec farmers do NOT have a mandatory wheat/barley board,  have
    'ADM and Monsansto and other agribusiness giants' 
    moved in and taken over Eastern Canada grain marketing????
    Pretty lame fearmongering Mike.

  • Wilson, do you think a monopoly of ADM and Monsanto will be better? I'm certainly no fan of government monopolies on anything, but don't for a minute think Strahl and his henchmen are doing this for the farmers. They are not. They are trying to get the CWB out of the way for ADM and Monsansto and other agribusiness giants.

    You think the family farm is disappearing fast now, wait until the Conservatives get their way – there will be no independently owned an operated family farms to sell to independently owned and operated local feedlots, most farmers will merely be land renting employees of one of the big companies. Serfdom by any other name.

    Is that what you want?

    Allowing coops like we have in Ontario (and yes, I grew up on a farm and, in fact, my father worked for the Coop) might be an idea, provided that is what the farmer's want.

    Beyond that Scott is right – even if I thought the CWB was horrid, the underhanded, dishonest and manipulative and clearly illegal way Strahl and his ilk have gone about it is wrong. How can anyone claim to stand for the will of farmers when they won't listen to them?

  • wilson61

     Then let the debate begin. 
    Dion should be advised to leave his fork and knife at home, should hot dogs be served.

  • Dion found broad support in Saskatchewan and Manitoba for keeping the CWB the way it is. He has said in public and in Parliament he is more then willing to debate Harper anywhere he wants on the merits of the CWB in its current format, and also for letting farmers fairly and legally decide what they want.. not with sneaky tactics like Deceivin' Stephen and Chucky Strahl tried to do.

  • wilson61

    Well, if you have a farming background,  then you also know it is illegal for farmers to sell grain to their neighbours or feedlots without first running it over the scales at the elevator, and paying the CWB for services that were never rendered! 
    That may be the Liberal way, but it stinks and needs to change. 

    Dion better get up to speed on this issue.  It anin't over.

  • Uh, Wilson, my relatives are all farmers and the farming tradition in my family goes back to the 1800’s, thank you very much. Please don’t make assumptions, as you Conservatives seem to do all the time.

    As for the other stuff, the court didn’t rule on whether or not the CWB was the right thing to be doing for farmers – it said to the Conservatives that you must follow the rules of the Wheat Board Act, which states removing barley or wheat from the CWB’s sole-marketing authority needs to be passed by Parliament.

    You can slam the CWB all you want, but what you should really be slamming is yet another attempt by Harper to usurp our Parliamentary democracy by an undemocratic Order-In-Council, because he was unwilling to follow the rules and face certain parliamentary defeat to his attempt.

  • wilson61

    The CWB has focused their fight on the big grain contracts in world markets.
    Did all you CWB supporters (who know NOTHING about farming)  realize that it is ILLEGAL for a farmer to sell grain to his neighbour, or feedlot in the community?? .
    So take the CWB out of our domestic market.
    OR  strengthen the CWB monopoly to include ALL of Canada.

  • Bill: Dion has shown he is perfectly willing to champion the CWB in its current format. He also has been making the point if the farmers want to end the CWB, that's their choice, but let's do it legally the way its supposed to be done, not with undemocratic tactics or plebiscites designed so that the Conservatives can interpret/manipulate the results in the way they choose.

    Farmers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan support the CWB in its current format – Farmers in Alberta don't. If Harper wants to try to run on this issue – let him. He already has his home province in his support column anyhow, so he gains no seats there. He’ll lose seats in the other 2 provinces however, I’ll predict.

  • billg

    Foot and Tim:   The debate that Mr Harper has opened, and, has opened because 63% of western farmers (and they are canadians) have asked him to open it.  They knew full well that they couldnt disband the CWB with an OIC.  Now, its an open debate, and, it will be an election whats the problem?  Debate all you want about Harper trying an end run, know one cares, but, the next election the Conservatives will be asking the Liberals if they will continue the CWB and, if it will incude Ontario and Quebec farmers.  What you guys refuse to get is that Mr Harper is willing to win or loose the next election on the differences between the two main party's, and, the CWB is a prime example.  I dont believe the crap the right and left write about each other…its total nonsense…as is demonstrated by Foot's remark about Hitler never having it so easy.  How an educated person becomes so far left or right that basic reasoning gets lost is beyond comprehension. 

  • slg

    I won't pretend to know what's good for the farmers and it is their choice – but, please, let's make it legal and above board.  Strahl acts like a thug.

    Funny, with all the western conservative supporters whining about the Wheat Board- it was the Conservatives who set it up in the first place.

    How far will Harper go to get his own way?  This is disturbing.

  • The judge didn't tell the federal government that the CWB was good or bad, Bill – it said you have to follow the rules of Parliament and pass a bill to change its mandate, not do an end-around of democracy. It's up to the Conservatives to justify why this needs to be changed (the CWB was brought in by a Progressive Conservative government, ironically enough) and not do so by trying to be sneaky about it. 

    Putting forth a proper plebiscite question and also trying not to be underhanded as Steve said at his post would also have helped… but then Chuck Strahl was the one who said "I'll determine what the vote means", so I'm not particularly confident they can manage that either.

  • Tim Webster

    Looking at one year's barley prices are not really a good measure of the effectiveness of the Wheat Board. We need to do a longer term comparison. Also farmers can't manage operating loans based on what market prices might be. The free market alternative to the Wheat Board is farmers locking harvest prices using future markets in the spring. You need to be comparing planting time, fall future prices with the Wheat Board prices over a several years.

    Regardless, the problem is Harper has illegally tried to undermining the Parliamentary system. Change of this magnitude which effective remove a farm price support systems require Parliamentary approval.

  • billg

    Fine Foot…then make it Canada wide.    Oh the horror!   Have Mr Dion tell Quebec and Ontario farmers that they will now be treated the same as western farmers and will be under control of CWB.  That would be so cool to watch.   And, I thought the worst thing for democracy was people like you telling other people what was best for them.   So, are you proposing all wheat and barley trade now be under the CWB?..or is it just for western farmers?

  • foottothefire

    Ultimately, free markets will destroy this countries ability to be not only self-sustaining but independent.  Note: that's free markets, not free enterprise.  Once the Wheat Board is gone we will be at the mercy of 3 US conglomerates that control the world grain market from source to table.  Canadians don't seem to get this.
    As for Harper and another of his cynical manipulations of the parliamentary process and ploy at securing voting blocks (to say nothing of it being at taxpayer expense), he is the worst kind of nightmare for democracy in Canada.  Adolph Hitler never had it so good.  

  • billg

    Oh ya, Tim Webster, your little rant is what will keep Harper in power.  Guns in our streets…judges and the courts destroyed…Harper is Cheney…sheesh….have an idea of your own man.

  • billg

    Jeez…I agree with Scott.  Except…this was all planned.   Charlie Mayer tried this when he was Ag Min with Mulroney.  It didnt work then, and, it shouldnt work now, an OIC wont cut it.  They knew that, but, what it will do is finally make this an election issue.  How the Liberals handle this will be very interesting.  BTW…open markets for barley run 3.15 to 3.60 a bushel, thats if your an eastern farmer…if your under the CWB..that means your a western farmer…you get at first about 2.30 to 2.55 a bushel, then, get sometimes wait a year after all the paper work is done, and then, if everything is agreed to you MIGHT get another .75 cents for your trouble.  Mr Dion has alot of thinkin' to do on this little gem.

  • Manuel

    Minority views on the rest of the country eh? should the east be allowed to decide what western farmers can and can not do with their crops? 'nough said.

  • Tim Webster

    It seems lately every victory against corruption and for democracy is major setback for Harper. I don't know what Harpers ultimate goals are, but I am sure there are very similar to Cheney's.

    It is not just that Harper is imposes his views, but he is actively doing it by circumventing Canada Parliamentary checks. Then again Harper has a plan to remove any legal challenges, through his removal of the independence of the judiciary.

    Once the independence of the judiciary lost it is destined to be corrupted severing its masters, as it has in US.

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