Canadian Wheat Board files lawsuit against federal government

The Canadian Wheat Board’s board of directors is taking legal action against the federal government.

WINNIPEG — The Canadian Wheat Board’s board of directors is taking legal action against the federal government.

Board chairman Allan Oberg says a lawsuit is being filed in Federal Court.

The lawsuit claims the government broke the law when it introduced legislation last week to take away the wheat board’s monopoly on western grain sales.

The directors say the government was obliged under current laws to hold a plebiscite among affected farmers.

Oberg says the marketing agency was left with no other choice but to go to court.

“We have no choice but to take this last stand on behalf of farmers,” Oberg said. “We will not be intimidated by bullies.”

Almost 40,000 producers took part in a plebiscite run by the board last summer and 62 per cent voted to maintain the monopoly for wheat.

The federal government has said that the Conservatives, who have long wanted to dismantle the monopoly, were given the mandate to go ahead when they were elected to a majority government last May.

The bill is expected to pass through the House of Commons before the end of the year.

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has said repeatedly that western farmers should have the choice of where they sell their grain. He says the wheat board’s monopoly hampers competitiveness on world markets.

But some farmers say they will lose their edge without the monopoly, which guarantees them a floor price, and they fear they will be at the mercy of American-controlled grain companies. They say a free market will squeeze out smaller producers or those who face large transportation costs because they live far from grain terminals.

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