Canadian Farmers for Justice Updates
web posted January 1997
14 Farmers Convicted and Fined
The fourteen farmers who were charged for exporting grain across the border without an export license were found guilty.
On the main charge of "failing to provide a license to the Chief Officer of Customs being stayed resulting in no conviction."
Judge Fred Coward did convict and fine all fourteen farmers $4 000 for failing to place in the custody of an officer of Customs property that had been seized. The farmers will appeal this conviction prior to the thirty day time limit on the grounds that the appeal notice given to farmers stated that the seizure was made because the farmer failed to provide a license to the Chief Officer of Customs. That charge being stayed results in no grounds for the seizure.
The judge also fined four of the farmers $6 000 each for failing to report in writing goods (wheat or barley) prior to exportation, contrary to 95(1) and Regulation 3.
The grounds for this was that the farmers were required to present their exportation manifest to Canada Customs (not the license) prior to entering the United States. This will be appealed on the grounds that the governor in council has not made mandatory regulations to require the manifest to be presented to Customs.
So how much grain did the farmers export to protest the government's forcing them into a collectivist state-run pool? $5.00. The sentences clearly fits the crime.
The other big news...
Andy McMechan was released from jail after the posting of a $5 000 bond for his tractor and two $5 000 sureties that he be "on good behavior and keep the peace" and not to go within one half mile of the United States border.
McMechan's lawyer has already lodged four appeals against a series of wrongful and punitive convictions, fines and court orders. Shortly, his lawyer will seek leave to extend the period of appeal on his original conviction.
So what has this whole ordeal cost McMechan? The Regina Leader-Post carried a spotlight on McMechan late in December and it states that financially "there is not much left of Andy McMechan, or his farm." A cultivator is sitting in his yard waiting to be repossessed. His last piece of equipment. His fines are approaching $100 000 and he does not have the assets to cover it. The crop on his farm in the United States is still unharvested, thanks to an early snowfall. It's not over yet for him with the new year bringing on a new round of court appearances.
If somebody could tell me that I broke the law, that
I'm guilty of something and prove it to me, then I maybe would change
my thought, but I know I haven't broken one.
The government should rightly feel proud of destroying a man who simply wanted to practice the free market in a free society. It should feel proud of destroying a man's livelihood while telling him and other farmers that it is the government's right to run a non-voluntary state-run collectivist grain pool.
Ken Dillen Requests Judicial Inquiry
Dillen, a former member of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly and spokesman for the Canadian Farmers for Justice, has formally requested that the Attorney General of Manitoba, Rosemary Vodrey, appoint an independent counsel to conduct an inquiry into all aspects of the imprisonment of Lyleton farmer Andy McMechan.
"In particular," Dillen stated, "we want an inquiry to focus on the treatment of Andy McMechan and the circumstances surrounding the requirement to surrender his old John Deere tractor as a condition of bail."
"Andy spent five months in a Brandon prison and was paraded in and out of courts in hand cuffs, chains and leg irons."
Dillen stated that every time McMechan went before the court he was asked to surrender his tractor. McMechan refused because the surrender of private property as a condition of bail is unprecedented in Manitoba. According to Dillen, the judge could have used his authority to seize the tractor, but did not. He could have ordered Canada Customs to seize the tractor, but did not. The Crown did not seize the tractor either and the Canada Wheat Board did not insist that the tractor be seized.
Dillen states that the judicial system conspired to take away McMechan's basic rights, acting in what he called "a cruel and vindictive, even vengeful, way."
Ralph Goodale Responds
On October 27, 1996 I wrote a letter to Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Ralph Goodale to protest his, and his government's, actions against farmers who wish to get out of the state-run grain pool. Here is the text of my letter:
October 27, 1996
The Honorable Ralph Goodale
Dear Mr. Goodale,
I am writing to you in regard to the treatment of farmers who do not wish to market their grain through the Canada Wheat Board, and the CWB itself.
I must protest in the strongest manner possible in regard to the government's prosecution of farmers who have exported grain without a permit from the CWB. No country can call itself free when its economy is not. The CWB is imposed on farmers without their consent. It is immoral to force individuals who do not wish to be members of the CWB to do so, and even more immoral to prosecute farmers who wish to take the risks and benefits of a free market. The government does not have a right to regulate how a human being practices their trade.
The continual harassment and eventual jailing of Andy McMechan is one of the more odious occurrences in modern Canadian history. The CWB offered McMechan $3.00 per bushel for his waxless hull-less barley, claiming that there was no market for it and would only purchase it as animal feed. McMechan found buyer in the United States who was willing to pay $6.00 per bushel. McMechan's crime? Being competent. The result? Canada jailed a human being for practicing capitalism. Canada is guilty of having a political prisoner. True, comparing McMechan with a political prisoner in, say China, would be extreme, but the result is the same. Behave like an individual and be sent to jail.
The CWB itself must be reformed as soon as possible. It is immoral, and probably illegal, to force farmers to sell their grain through this collective. The CWB must be eliminated, or turned over to be run by the farmers themselves, with membership being completely voluntary. It is offensive to any citizen of this country who values freedom to know that an entire profession, one of a few in this country, is required to sell their production and skill to one buyer, namely the federal government, at the price the buyer determines. The National Farmers Union may support the CWB, but they do not speak for all farmers.
I urge you to reconsider the government's actions against those farmers who are charged with exporting wheat without proper permits. They are practicing the economic standard that exists in the political arena. They are practicing freedom. I also urge you to end the CWB's monopoly on the grain trade.
Well, I received a response recently. Not surprisingly, the Minister bangs on the same lines that he and the government have always banged on with. Things like:
"As you know, the Government has gone to considerable lengths to resolve the debate concerning grain marketing activities."
"Given the deep divisions which exist among differing groups of farmers, I know that no policy package could possible satisfy all sides. But I hope the conclusions we have arrived at will help address the legitimate concerns of most."
One policy would Mr. Goodale, the one that you refuse to consider, where farmers have the choice to join a collective or ply the free market on their own. What does Mr. Goodale consider "legitimate concerns"?
Mr. Goodale ends the letter by telling me that he has included a copy of his October 7 policy statement, telling me that "the position we have taken as earned favourable editorials in all three prairie provinces and the support of the most comprehensive farm organizations." Note to Mr. Goodale: Freedom cannot be written away in an editorial, nor can it be diminished because farm organizations do not support it.
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