Farmers for economic freedom

Updates from the Canadian Farm Enterprise Network and the Canadian Farmers for Justice

Yet another farmer jailed

On Thursday, January 15, a young Manitoba farmer appeared in provincial court for sentencing after being convicted late last year for the crime of exporting barley without a Canadian Wheat Board permit. Clayton Desrochers, who was unable to present character references from a former Prime Minister and Supreme Court justice, was sentenced to 60 days in jail, a year's probation, fined $2 500 and must surrender his truck to Customs. Desrochers, who celebrated his 24th birthday days after, is the third Manitoba farmer who has come in for special treatment by the federal Liberal government.

"This past week, the Ukraine announced that it would no longer force its grain farmers to sell part of their production to the government. The same week Canada jailed a farmer for what the Soviets called 'an economic crime'. I never thought I'd say it, but I wish Grandpa had stayed put," said Shane Hertz, am Oyen, Alberta farmer.

"The American writer who called Canada a 'pleasant little totalitarian country' hit the nail right on the head," said Norm Calhoun of Lumsden, Saskatchewan. "When Alan Eagleson was in court for bilking clients out of millions of dollars he was able to present character references from former Prime Minister John Turner, former Supreme Court Justice Willard Estey, and assorted members of the clerical and business elite. For that he received a six month sentence and will be out in 90-days. Clayton will serve a sentence two-thirds as long because he wanted to sell one load of barley worth $500 that he took all the risk in growing.

"The people at the Canadian Wheat Board who shipped barley to Japan contaminated with deer feces continue to collect their six figure salaries and enjoy their rich perks while Clayton is languishing in jail," charged Greg McIntyre of Darcy, Saskatchewan.

The CFFJ is still around

The confusion as to who represents Western grain farmers got a little clearer in mid-January. Many had assumed that the Canadian Farmers for Justice (CFFJ) had disappeared with the rise of the Canadian Farm Enterprise Network (CFEN). Not so. Enter Stage Right received a fax from CFFJ last month which, apart from blasting the jailing of Clayton Desrochers.

The group says that with the departure of several of their members, who went off to create the CFEN, CFFJ regrouped. Other farmers, says CFFJ, either plead guilty to charges or simply left the group.

Unlike the CFEN, says CFFJ, they wish to fight for the rights of farmers to sell their produce to anyone, including the Canada Wheat Board. The CFEN, charges the CFFJ, is seeking to destroy the Wheat Board itself.

Choose your sides I suppose, but Enter Stage Right, in the interests of a unified approach, would like both groups to adopt the common cause approach. Both are seeking the right of the farmer to sell their grains to whomever they wish. Better to have two groups pushing in the same direction then two groups knocking each other, each pushing diagonally.

The CFFJ held several public meetings at the end of January in Saskatechwan and Alberta to explain their approach to the fight against the Canada Wheat Board. We'll try and keep you updated on the activities of both groups.

Farmers ready for court challenge of CWB

A recent story which appeared in newspapers across Canada:

Everyone should be concerned about the draconian way the federal government compels western farmers to sell their grain through the Canadian Wheat Board, says a group battling the board's monopoly powers. "This wheat board issue is not just about wheat; it's about Canada," Jim Pallister of the Canadian Farm Enterprise Network said Wednesday. (January 28)

The group plans to mount a constitutional challenge to the board's monopoly next month in a Winnipeg courtroom. It will precede the trial of farmer David Bryan and others on charges of exporting wheat without a permit granted by the wheat board.

Pallister said that 50 years ago, when Ottawa decided to extend wartime powers granted to the wheat board and expand its control over other grains, the government relied on the law used to confiscate the property of Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War.

The case went all the way to the British Privy Council and the federal government eventually won, but Pallister said relying on that precedent has disturbing implications.

"The government is saying, `If we can treat one group of Canadians this way, we can do that to any Canadian."

He said there's nothing to stop the federal government from deciding it wants to confiscate all the RRSPs Canadians have put aside, if the courts allow such a precedent to stand.

There is no specific guarantee of property rights in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But Pallister and those who back his cause say the Constitution in general and the Canadian Bill of Rights, which pre-dates the charter, accept the principle.

Those couldn't be invoked when the wheat board legislation was first challenged 50 years ago.

"The legality of it in the modern age is untested, and that's what makes this case so interesting," said Steven Harper of the National Citizen's Coalition.

"This case goes right to the heart of property rights and the federal
government's unresolved jurisdiction in the area."

It also has some parallels in the Supreme Court challenge mounted by the provinces over federal gun controls.

Among other things, they argued that jurisdiction over property is vested with the provinces and not Ottawa. That case has yet to be decided.

Danielle Smith, managing director of the newly formed Canadian Property Rights Research Institute in Calgary, said she's glad the case is going ahead.

"I think it's going to have vast implications," she said.

Pallister and his supporters aren't worried about last year's decision by a Federal Court judge who ruled that Ottawa isn't exceeding its constitutional authority by giving the wheat board a monopoly over most wheat and barley grown in Western Canada. In general, only animal feed is exempt.

That challenge, brought by barley growers, focused on freedom of association granted under the charter, Harper said.

The CFEN and CFFJ needs your help! The battle against the Canada Wheat Board can only continue with your support.

Canadian Farm Enterprise Network
Box 521
Central Butte, Saskatchewan
S0H 0T0

Canadian Farmers for Justice
c/o Ron Duffy
Lacombe, Alberta
T0C 1S0

Write the following and demand free market rights for Western Canadian farmers!

The Canadian Wheat Board
423 Main Street
P.O. Box 816, Stn. M.
Winnipeg, MB
R3C 2P5

Telephone: (204) 983-0239 / 1-800-ASK-4-CWB
Fax: (204) 983-3841
Email Address:

Ralph Goodale
Minister Responsible for the Canada Wheat Board
Department of Natural Resources Canada
21 - 580 Booth Street
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0E4

Telephone: (613)996-2007
Fax Number: (613)996-4516
Email Address:

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