News From the Freedom Front...
web posted November 1996
Late September saw a huge turnout for an old fashioned farm bee on the McMechan farm. Organized by friends of the McMechan family, people turned out from all around to help combine the fields and bring in the harvest. Still others were helping out on the garden, mowing the lawn and trimming trees. Even CTV's W-5 turned out with some cameras to record the event. And to make me wish I was there even more, there was a "huge table of food, baking, sandwiches and pickled preserves." Ah, to live in the prairies!
This help was rendered because Andy McMechan is in a Manitoba prison for selling some of his barley without Canada Wheat Board approval. Andy had roughly 10 000 bushels of an exotic barley known as waxy hull-less barley. The CWB stated that there was no market for the barley and would only buy it as cattle feed, and offered less than $3 per bushel. McMechan, not surprisingly unsatisfied, found a buyer in the United States who offered $6 per bushel. McMechan took the offer and the rest is history.
Court Action Successful!
CFFJ was rewarded recently at a court hearing in Lethbridge, Alberta. Eighteen farmers are charged with offenses flowing from the Canada Customs Act for failing to provide an export license granted by the CWB. On September 27 the Alberta Law Society filed a motion to intervene in the proceedings relating to the first border crossing at Coutts.
The motion to intervene was seeking to have Dan Creighton barred from acting as Agent for the accused persons on the grounds that he was acting in the capacity of a lawyer -- contrary to the Alberta Legal Professions Act.
The lawyer for the Alberta Law Society presented his argument along with the submissions made by the Federal Crown Prosecutor. Dan Creighton argued that the Legal Professions Act applied only to barristers and solicitors and that Section 800 of the Criminal Code authorized accused persons charged by way of summary proceedings to be represented by an Agent.
After a one hour adjournment, Judge Wood presented his findings wherein he ruled that the application by the Law Society to intervene in the proceedings was denied. He further ruled that the Legal Professions Act did not have any application to an Agent acting in a summary proceeding and that Dan Creighton was indeed authorized to act as the Agent in the proceedings.
This, according to the CFFJ, is a victory for all in Canada. There are only two types of criminal proceedings, summary and indictable. Jury trials are available in all indictable offenses and now an accused person in a summary proceeding is not required to be defended by a lawyer.
More Court Related News
The CFFJ filed an application in Federal Court in Edmonton recently to have the court declare that the CWB has no legal authority over individual farmers who choose not to sell their wheat or barley to the CWB. The six-page notice of motion also suggests that farmers seeking an export license be only required to fill out an affidavit stating that the grain in question was grown on the farm of the farmer. This motion in essence is asking that the CWB be a voluntary organization.
The aforementioned Dan Creighton argued that while the wheat board act gives the CWB authority to issue orders to the grain trade, that does not include individual farmers who do not want to sell to the CWB. Creighton argues that those farmers should be able to obtain a license at no cost, the same rules that cover farmers who are outside of the CWB's area of control. His method is similar to the arguments used to end the Crow Benefit rail transportation subsidy, which was ended last year after the Federal government stated that it contravened the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).
The Federal government has 30 days to respond to this motion.
And yet more court related news - CWB and Canada: Love it or Leave it!
During the Federal Court Charter Challenge of the CWB, several farmers testified about their difficulties with the board. Each spoke about unfair dealings and misuses of power.
The Crown, a government employee, asked each farmer during cross examination, "Is there anything in the CWB Act that prevents you from moving outside of the designated areas of the Prairies?" Need a translation? If you don't like the CWB, why not simply move?
Paul Orsak of Binscarth, Manitoba said, "The government seems to be saying the Wheat Board monopoly is an unchanging feature of Western Canada just like the Rockies, cold winters and mosquitoes, one either accepts it or must move out. But there was no compulsory state marketing when my grandfather came here fleeing oppression, and I am determined, along with thousands of others, to have a freer system right here where we live."
I don't know if you found the Crown's question as offensive as I did, but it is worrisome that a representative of the government of Canada seems to be saying that if you don't like the fact that the government will do what it wishes, then move somewhere else.
Has the CWB Cost Farmers $1 Billion Dollars?
According to a news release by the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association, the CWB appeared to have missed a market opportunity that cost prairie wheat farmers over $1 billion. The CWB failed to take advantage of higher wheat and durum prices and available transportation capacity in the spring and summer of 1996, costing farmers at least $60 million in decreased value of wheat stocks which will have to be sold at lower prices. The WCWGA estimates that farmers could have realized an extra $1 billion in returns if they had been able to lock in higher prices on even half of this year's spring wheat crop.
In a letter to the CWB, WCWGA president Larry McGuire asked why the CWB did not reduce wheat carry-overs to a minimum in response to record wheat acreages.
Just another reason why the CWB should be made a voluntary organization outside of government control.
CWB Inconsistent with NAFTA
Federal Agriculture Minister Ralph Goodale is planning on making changes to the CWB rather soon, but not to allow freedom. It was pointed out to Goodale that certain sections of the CWB are in violation with the Northern American Free Trade Agreement. John Husband, president of the Organic Special Products Group (OSPG) stated that, "Studying the NAFTA text and the CWB Act and Regulations shows the inconsistencies between them, which should be no surprise, since they were enacted fifty years apart and the CWB was created to control trade while the NAFTA objective is to enhance trade."
An example? Feed grains are freely traded throughout Canada, but are subject to an export tax for sales out of Canada, which violates Article 314 of NAFTA. This could be the reason why domestic feed barley prices are consistently $30-40 below world feed barley prices. This also be a factor in a newly initiated international trade tribunal established to investigate Canada's cattle industry.
Writing to Ralph Goodale
There are two easy ways to make the Minister of Agriculture aware of your opinion in regards to the issues concerning the CFFJ. Using the traditional method, you can send your mail to:
The Honorable Ralph Goodale
Remember, sending mail to the House of Commons is postage free.
You can also send a fax to any and all members of the House of Commons for free. Simply visit FAX the FEDS where you pick a name out of the complete list of members, or pick several if you want to send it to several members, type your message, email address, regular address, etc. and a fax with that message will be sent. It's a quicker way of having your opinion ignored by your servants in Ottawa.
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