Canadian Agriculture Minister Says CWB Wasted Farmers' Money

A Canadian Supreme Court decision that backed the Canadian government's move to prevent the Canadian Wheat Board from spending money on lobbying to maintain its grain marketing monopoly shows the CWB wasted farmers' money, says Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.

A Canadian Supreme Court decision that backed the Canadian government's move to prevent the Canadian Wheat Board from spending money on lobbying to maintain its grain marketing monopoly shows the CWB wasted farmers' money, says Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.

"This government has always maintained that the CWB should stick to its mandate of marketing grain, not spending farmers' money on lobbying for their own political purposes," Ritz said in a statement. "The decision to dismiss with costs proves the wheat board wasted farmers' money to bring forward a frivolous court action."

The Supreme Court of Canada recently declined to hear an appeal by the Canadian Wheat Board of a lower court ruling that upheld the government's 2006 order not to spend on lobbying.

While some observers note this is not likely a fatal blow to the CWB, some in Canada think it could resurrect efforts to open up barley sales. CWB backers, meanwhile, say they may seek to find a way to replace some of the government-appointed CWB board members with grower-elected members. Currently, the board comprises 10 members who are elected by farmers and five who are appointed by the federal government.

The federal Conservative government has long wanted to end the board's legislated monopoly to buy and sell Western Canadian wheat and barley, but lacks enough seats in the House of Commons to do so without opposition support.

Wheat board Chairman Larry Hill said the only expense he can recall from lobbying to keep the monopoly was a print advertisement before 2006.  

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