CWB directors considering appealing gag order

The board of directors of the Canadian Wheat Board will discuss whether to take the issue of a government gag order to the Supreme Court, likely at a meeting next month, its chairman said Saturday.

EDMONTON — The board of directors of the Canadian Wheat Board will discuss whether to take the issue of a government gag order to the Supreme Court, likely at a meeting next month, its chairman said Saturday.

Larry Hill, speaking from his grain farm near Swift Current, Sask., said he’s disappointed with the latest ruling from the Federal Court of Appeal.

It has overturned a decision that struck down a gag order imposed on the board by the Conservative government.

The panel of three judges said the Wheat Board Act has a provision which gives the government the authority to direct the board “on any matter of government in the event of a disagreement with the board of directors.”

“The plain purpose of the Direction/Order … is to ensure that the Wheat Board no longer advocates a mandate that is at odds with government policy using funds made available to it under the Act,” the written ruling says.

“The Direction/Order being limited to the use of funds, individual directors and staff of the Wheat Board remain free to advocate the view of their choice without financial support from the Wheat Board.”

The Appeal Court said the federal judge erred in his view that preventing the board from using producer funds to advocate its position infringes on freedom of expression guaranteed by the Charter.

“The Wheat Board is a creature of statute and as such, it has no powers, rights and duties save those bestowed on it by the Act. Since (we) have found that as a result of the Direction/Order the Wheat Board has no authority under the Act to use producer funds to advocate against government policy, there is no Charter right to protect.”

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