Wheat board pleads with senators to stop bill
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz leaves an announcement regarding the introduction of a bill to eliminate the Canadian Wheat Board during a press conference at a farm in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011. (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Thursday, December 8, 2011 1:42PM EST
OTTAWA - Directors of the Canadian Wheat Board are pleading with senators to stop Harper government legislation that would end the marketing agency's monopoly on Prairie grain sales.
They are asking the Senate agriculture committee to freeze the legislation, which the government wants to become law before Christmas.
Director Stewart Wells says a freeze would allow a court case to play out.
A Federal Court judge in Winnipeg ruled this week that the bill broke existing law which requires a plebiscite before any change to the monopoly.
The government says it disagrees with the ruling and will appeal.
The committee chairman, Sen. Percy Mockler, squelched a Liberal effort to halt consideration of the bill because of the court ruling.
Mockler rejected Liberal suggestions the committee might be in contempt of court.
"With the exception of the Constitution Act, no ruling of any court can impede Parliament's ability to consider legislation," he said.
Allen Oberg, chairman of the agency's board of directors, urged the committee to reject the legislation.
"This bill cannot and should not be proceeded with," he said.
Oberg said the government ignored the wishes of farmers when it pushed the bill through the Commons.
"Farmers have approved none of this," he said. "Farmers do not wish this. It is not in their interest and must be stopped."
The government says the bill will simply give western grain producers the freedom to market their product as they choose.
The committee is to report the bill back to the full Senate by Tuesday.