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NEWS: Court challenges could delay Harper’s timeline on the Canadian Wheat Board

Canadian Wheat Board newspaper advertisement.

CBC reports, “The need to pass (C-18) quickly to minimize risk for farmers was cited when the (Harper) government used time allocation to limit debate at second reading in the House of Commons. (But) court proceedings may interfere with the government’s intent to have an open market up and running in time for selling the 2012 crop.”

“The wheat board’s lawsuit against the federal government is one of three lawsuits surrounding the fight over whether the monopoly should continue. In a response to the wheat board’s lawsuit, a group of western grain producers are in turn suing the wheat board for using farmers’ money to sue the government instead of focusing on marketing their crops. The third court challenge, also against the government, has been initiated by a group called the Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board. On Tuesday, the Council of Canadians and the Public Service Alliance of Canada announced they’ll seek intervener status in this case, scheduled to return to court in Winnipeg on December 6.”

Also, “A special legislative committee is working late three nights in a row this week on a quick review for bill C-18, the government’s legislation to dismantle the ‘single desk’ marketing system that gives the Canadian Wheat Board the exclusive right to sell wheat and barley from western Canada. The special committee was struck only a week ago after the bill passed at second reading in the House of Commons. Alberta Conservative MP Blaine Calkins is the chair and Conservative MPs hold the majority of votes on the committee.”

“The committee began hearing witnesses Tuesday evening, and sat until after 11 p.m. hearing testimony from departmental officials, farmer representatives and several grain industry spokespeople who served on a working group to advise Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. On Wednesday evening, MPs are set for four hours of witnesses (including Canadian Wheat Board chair Allen Oberg, and two CWB directors who have recently resigned). …The agriculture minister (Gerry Ritz) is scheduled to appear before the committee at 8 p.m. ET. …On Thursday evening, the committee is scheduled to sit until midnight in a six-hour clause-by-clause review of the legislation. The Opposition may propose amendments to the bill. However, changing the legislation may prove difficult, considering the government’s majority on the committee. Each party will only be allowed to speak for five minutes on each clause under review.”

The CBC report notes, “‘This whole bloody process is a travesty,’ NDP wheat board critic Pat Martin said on Wednesday morning. ‘This whole thing just lowers the bar on Parliamentary democracy.’ Martin was disdainful of hearing from witnesses in the ‘stealthful darkness’ after only a few hours of debate in the House of Commons. ‘We have very few legislative tools we can do to plead our case, to tell you the truth,’ Martin said. ‘Civil society is going to have to speak out if they want to save the Canadian Wheat Board.'”

Take action!
A Canadian Wheat Board advertisement in the Globe and Mail today states, “By ramming this legislation through Parliament without time for meaningful debate, the profits and control of wheat farming will be shifted from Canadian farmers to multinational corporations from the US. And under NAFTA, once this change is made, it can never be reversed.”

The ad asks you to text FARMER to 24680.

When you do that you’ll receive a message that says, “Message from the Canadian Wheat Board: Thank you for your support. Reply with your first name to send a message to an MP.”

When you reply by typing your first name, you’ll receive a message that says, “Message from the Canadian Wheat Board: Thank you, your message has been sent. Visit stopthesteamroller.ca for more (data rates apply).

More information
For more information on the campaign to defeat the Canadian Wheat Board, please see these Council of Canadians campaign blogs:

NEWS: Council of Canadians files for CWB legal challenge
NEWS: Council of Canadians seeks to intervene in Canadian Wheat Board legal challenge
VIDEO: Barlow at Canadian Wheat Board rally
NEWS: Barlow is lead speaker at Canadian Wheat Board rally
UPDATE: Barlow to speak in defence the Canadian Wheat Board, Oct. 28 in Winnipeg
NEWS: Harper moves to shut down the Canadian Wheat Board
NEWS: Harper says election trumps plebiscite on the Canadian Wheat Board
UPDATE: Council of Canadians supports the Canadian Wheat Board

They can be found at http://canadians.org/blog/?s=%22canadian+wheat+board%22&paged=2.