for economic freedom
Updates from the Prairie Centre Policy Institute from Regina, Saskatchewan.
Hot off the press! Don Baron's Jailhouse Justice
web posted September 23, 2002
All things not considered equal
By Ken Dillen
The Prairie Centre Policy Institute has reported on several occasions the inconsistency in the application of the Canadian Wheat Board Act in the rest of Canada, particularly Ontario and Quebec.
Alberta attempted to clarify whether the jurisdiction of the Canadian Wheat Board Act applied to the provinces by initiating a legal action which was called "Marketing Choice Program: Whether the Alberta Government Can Legally Facilitate The Export of Wheat and Barley". This action was filed on July 22, 1996.
There was no legislation that would prevent provinces from exercising that right if they decided to market grain on behalf of their provincial farmers, just like Ontario is presently doing. The Government of Canada and the CWB was sure they would lose this challenge, so they set out to amend the law by introducing Bill C-72.
According to a report entitled "Civil Cases Status Report (obtained under the Access To Information Act) which reported on the court challenge by Alberta, " before the case was to be heard, however, Bill C-72, an Act to amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act was introduced in Parliament. As this bill would have made the case moot, the case was held in abeyance pending the bills outcome.
Bill C-72 was not passed into law; it died on the order paper when a federal election was called on April 27, 1997. "Determined not to surrender the jurisdiction of the Canadian Wheat Board Act to the provinces, "the proposed legislation was resurrected, however, in the form of Bill C-4, which was introduced in the new session of Parliament on Sept 25, 1997".
The report continues, "Although the reference case was scheduled to be heard in Edmonton on November 24-28, 1997, on November 12, 1997 the court again postponed its hearing until the spring 1998, pending the fate of Bill C-4.
However, due to the delay of the passage of Bill C-4, the court re-considered this postponement on December 15, 1997 and set a hearing date for the case on April 7-9, 1998 in the Alberta Court of Appeal in Edmonton. On March 18, 1998, the Crown requested a further adjournment of the reference case from the Alberta Court of Appeal, based on the fact that Bill C-4 was under consideration by the Senate. The adjournment was granted sine die (until further notice) by Justice Cote, meaning that the case was unlikely to be heard at all unless Bill C-4 was not passed into law or if it passed without clause 2 (making the CWB Act binding on a province) intact."
On June 11, 1998 Bill C-4 was passed by Parliament and received Royal Assent. On July 22, 1998, legal council for Alberta filed Notice of Discontinuance of the Reference. The Canadian Wheat Board jurisdiction is now firmly entrenched by an Act of Parliament to include all the provinces of Canada.
However, it would appear that Quebec and Ontario are the possible exception. Quebec just ignores the CWB and Ontario will begin to issue its own export permits. Meanwhile, western farmers get the heavy hand of government and leg irons and chains. The road to serfdom is getting pretty crowded out here.
Ken Dillen sits on the Board of Directors of the Prairie Centre Policy Institute.
web posted September 9, 2002
Ontario to issue their own wheat export
By Ken Dillen
Stratford, Ontario is the home of the annual Shakespeare Festival and draws actors from all over the world to its world class performances. But no performance could surpass the actions of the Ontario Wheat Board this past week as they opted to by-pass the Canadian Wheat Board and begin to issue their own wheat export permits to farmers who direct market to customers in the United States. For Ontario farmers it was a Mid-Summer Nights Dream come true.
Shakespeare must be smiling.
In attendance at the annual general meeting of the the Ontario Wheat Board (OWB) was Prairie Centre Policy Institute director, Ken Dillen, thanks to a generous donation from an Ontario farmer. Also attending this historic event was Andrew McMechan, the Manitoba farmer who was jailed and paraded in hand-cuffs, leg irons and chains to court appearances in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In one court appearance the crown prosecutor pointed to Andy in the prisoners box and yelled to the judge look at him your Honour, he even looks like a criminal. The judge agreed. The Ontario farmers wanted to meet and talk to Andy because they could not believe that a farmer could be treated so brutally for an act that they now take for granted as a right of living in a free and democratic society.
It took a few years by a very determined group of farmers to change the monopoly status the Ontario Wheat Board held over all grain grown in Ontario. In many ways, it was similar to the current restrictive practices in the west. But perseverance and determination finally paid off.
Because the OWB monopoly became more and more unresponsive to both producer and customer demand, many farmers turned to producing other agricultural products like pulses, corn, soybean, grapes and even forage. Wheat production was in decline. The milling industry was not optimistic about the future of milling in Ontario. There were very vocal calls for the end of the Ontario Wheat Board.
Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and a compromise was reached. A process was set in motion to accommodate those who wished to maintain the pooling option. For others, a forward contract option was created, and finally for those who choose to market off-board, an accommodation was made there as well. In other words, the OWB has ended its monopoly and has become a buyer and seller of Ontario wheat. They even pay on farm storage at .07 cents per tonne per day.
The Ontario Wheat Board now enjoys wide popularity and is supported by a vast majority of farmers. Its directors are returned to office regularly. Wheat production is increasing, new varieties are being introduced, investment in research and development is increasing, and value added milling and food production companies have announced major investment and plant expansions for the immediate future.
Out here in the west, the Canadian Wheat Board elections are going to be held soon. It will be interesting to see if any candidates for the positions have the vision to follow Ontarios lead. It would boost morale and agriculture in general to get some good news for a change.
Just maybe we could make Shakespeare smile too.
Ken Dillen sits on the Board of Directors of the Prairie Centre Policy
web posted September 2, 2002
Ontario farmers free to market their own grain - No CWB buy-back
By Ken Dillen
Ted Gorski is an Ontario farmer. He farms about 2,600 acres at Harrow, a quaint community about 30 miles south of Windsor, Ontario. His acreage is large by southern Ontario standards.
One of the Directors of the Prairie Centre Policy Institute, Ken Dillen, visited Mr. Gorski recently in order to learn first hand how farmers in Ontario were able to sell "offboard" and not be forced to participate in the Canadian Wheat Board "buy-back" like Western Canadian farmers are obliged to do.
When a western farmer finds a market for barley or wheat in the USA he must apply to the CWB for an export license. In order for the license to be issued, he must first sell his grain to the CWB and then buy it back at an inflated price. The "buy-back" effectively removes any potential for realizing a profit from the transaction. In order to apply for the export license, a farmer must disclose all information that identifies the end-user to the CWB who can now approach the customer with a discounted price. It would be like Canadian Tire being forced to tell Wal-Mart who their customers are so Wal-Mart could undercut the Canadian Tire price, while Wal-Mart can keep its pricing information secret.
Because Mr. Gorski is an Ontario farmer, all he has to do is apply for a CWB export permit which is granted without a "buy-back" being imposed. Also, the cost for the export permit is waived.
Ken Dillen observed and documented the entire process which included traveling with the trucks through the border crossing at Windsor, Ontario to Detroit, Michigan and the delivery with a super B and tri-axle hopper bottom to the Jiffy Pancake Flour Mill at Chelsea, Michigan.
Mr. Gorski was paid in full the next day. He received $3.85 US per bushel (about $5.80 Cdn.). The only slight draw back is that he is required to pay the Ontario Wheat Board a minimal license fee of $2.00 per tonne. Even so, after all revenues and expenses are tallied, he could receive a refund of a portion of the amount.
The export license is then faxed to Canada Customs. It is not required to be "surrendered to the chief officer of Customs" as demanded by the Customs Act. This provision is only required at border crossings in the three prairie provinces.
Ontario wheat farmers have a number of options available to them for marketing their grain. They can either sell into the pool and wait a year for a final payment, contract with the Ontario Wheat Board at a fixed price and be paid in full at the conclusion of a sale, or market direct. The latter two options are not available to western farmers. For exercising those same rights in Western Canada, farmers have been jailed, taken to court, and have been placed in leg irons, hand-cuffs and chains.
Some are facing enormous fines including ascertained forfeitures. Currently in Alberta, several farmers are refusing to pay the fines and are opting to be arrested and jailed as a form of protest. They will be surrendering to police on the steps of the Alberta Legislature to begin to serve their time.
In Ontario, farmers like Mr. Gorski pride themselves in the fact that they "live in a free and democratic country" and will continue to protect their right to sell their grain to whomever they choose, including the Ontario Wheat Board. Shouldn't Prairie farmers be given the same right?
Ken Dillen sits on the Board of Directors of the Prairie Centre Policy
The CFEN and CFFJ need your help! The battle against the Canada Wheat Board can only continue with your support.
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