Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Farmers launch challenge to restore Wheat Board and seek $17billion in damages

Canadian Wheat Board Alliance

Winnipeg, February 15, 2012 - The Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board (FCWB) announced that the law firm of Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP (SGM), working with FCWB counsel, Anders Bruun, has launched a court action in the Federal Court of Canada to restore the Canadian Wheat Board and recover damages farmers have suffered as a result of Ottawa’s tampering with western grain marketing. More information about the class action can be found at

The action places new and significant constitutional arguments in front of the courts. The plaintiffs are four grain farmers, Harold Bell of British Columbia (250) 785-8996 / 262-9278, Andrew Dennis of Manitoba (204) 476-6498, Nathan Macklin of Alberta (780) 957-2583 / 832-3190, and Ian McCreary of Saskatchewan (306) 567-2099 / 561-7838.

“The goals of this action are twofold” observed Steven Shrybman, one of the SGM legal team handling the litigation. “Our primary objective is to restore democratic farmer control of the Wheat Board and the right of producers to collectively market their grain. We are also seeking compensation from the government for damages it has caused to the interests of producers.”

Brookdale, Manitoba, area farmer Andrew Dennis added “this is a complex and far reaching litigation which will include both constitutional issues and a class action to recover lost money for farmers. We have also retained Anders Bruun, a lawyer with over 20 years of grain trade experience, to act as co-counsel with SGM to prosecute this case. Mr. Bruun represented the FCWB when we stopped Ottawa removing barley from the Wheat Board in 2007. SGM has a successful track record on similar cases so we feel confident that we will ultimately reverse Ottawa’s unlawful actions and we expect our members will receive substantial compensation for the damages already done.”

Bill Gehl, chairperson of the Canadian Wheat Board Alliance and a member of the Friends, observed that “in response to a FCWB legal case last year a Federal Court Judge held that Minister Ritz broke the law by introducing legislation to destroy our Canadian Wheat Board. The Harper government has defied the courts to implement this legislation.”

“Rejecting this legislation is about more than the Canadian Wheat Board, it is about due process and the rule of law itself and that affects everyone in Canada” observed Anders Bruun, the Friends legal counsel.
Stewart Wells, one of the farmer-elected Directors of the Wheat Board dismissed under the illegal legislation, said “we have a broadly based group supporting this action including 8 of the 10 deposed farmer-elected CWB Directors, the Producer Car Shippers of Canada, the Canadian Wheat Board Alliance, various civil society groups, the National Farmers’ Union and others who are affected by the changes Ottawa has imposed on farmers.”

Laurence Nicholson, an irrigation farmer at Seven Persons, Alberta concluded “we have called on the Government of Canada to respect the law and stop their bullying of farmers. Instead they have chosen to break the law, so now it falls to us to give the courts the opportunity to assert the rule of law and redress this injustice.”

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