Farmers for economic freedom

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

web posted March 1998

Canada's courts once again rule against a free market

Justice James Smith of the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench ruled February 19 that the Canadian Wheat Board Act falls within the powers of the federal government to regulate trade and commerce.

The judge ruled against a defense motion to squash the charges against Saskatchewan farmer Dave Bryan on the grounds that the board monopoly over wheat and barley violated the property rights of farmers and usurped provincial jurisdiction.

Dave Bryan, who was charged with illegally exporting wheat to the U.S., based his challenge on the arguments that the wheat board monopoly violates his individual private property rights and is beyond the jurisdiction of the federal government.

The judge also convicted Bryan of violating the Customs Act by hauling two loads of barley across the Canada-U.S. border in 1996-97.

Bryan and lawyer Art Stacey argued such broad interference with private property is something only a province has the power to impose. The Crown relied on the same arguments it had used successfully in the past to defend the board on constitutional grounds – the Canadian Wheat Board Act falls well within Ottawa's power to regulate trade and commerce.

"Bryan's case raises some profound questions about one of our most fundamental freedoms," said National Citizens' Coalition president Steven Harper. "If the government can disregard the property rights of farmers when it comes to wheat, what about the property rights of other citizens?"

Harper noted that 50 years ago the federal government itself used legal arguments from the confiscation of the property of Japanese Canadians to extend the Wheat Board's powers.

And once again freedom is dealt a blow by the courts.

Despite the loss, a number of things did come out in the challenge which will spur other people to begin asking questions of the Canada Wheat Board and the Federal government. One example is the admission that farmers had been allowed to buy back for export only 0.0004 per cent of their own property. Thirty per cent was sold to "accredited exporters" like the Pool Elevator Companies in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Farmers contend that the CWB routinely and deliberately charges them prohibitive prices to repurchase their grain to prevent them from obtaining export licenses while selling that same grain to big companies for much lower prices. This gives farmers no other option but to hand the grain over -- a forced sale.

Art Staley, lawyer for the farmers, produced two CWB sales contracts from the same day, for the same grade of wheat with two completely difference prices, forcing CWB Market Manager Ward Weisensal to admit the CWB can charge whatever they like.

CFEN argued rightly that previous decisions by the courts have proven that the CWB has "no duty of care" to farmers and that "it is an instrument of federal government policy", that the grain in the elevators is the property of the federal government, not the men and women which produced that grain.

Let it be said once again, that the CWB monopoly is the expropriation of farmers' property and nothing else. Arguments by the federal government were based on the expropriation of Japanese-Canadians property with profound implications for the property and civil rights of all Canadians.

In a release issued the day before the judgment was announced, the CFEN stated that in the event of a loss, farmers are ready to battle it out in the Appeal Court and ultimately the Supreme Court of Canada.

What our courts wouldn't do

The U.S. Congress has instructed its general accounting office to conduct another audit
of the Winnipeg-based wheat board in order to determine whether the Canadian government is subsidizing grain exports.

Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow traveled to Washington in late February to discuss the latest challenge to the wheat board with legislators from North Dakota, Montana and California. He said as commodity prices shrink and input costs rise, American farmers are once again calling on their politicians to restrict Canadian wheat and barley entering the U.S.

"My mission was to explain to them that the Canadian Wheat board is not a subsidizer," Romanow said from Washington. "It's just an ordinary seller which goes out there and sells Canadian grain in competition with all the other sellers."

Easy to get a leg up on the competition when you pay what you want for your supplies.

The fiercest wheat board opponent Romanow encountered was Montana Senator Max Baucus, a firm believer that Canada subsidizes its grain exports.

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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