Friday, December 9, 2011

Canada: Conservative government will go ahead and break the law to end Wheat Board monopoly

    Agriculture minister Gerry Ritz will go ahead with a bill that a federal judge has just ruled breaks the law. Ritz noted that the government of Canada has the sole right to act amend or repeal any piece of  legislation. While that is true it is irrelevant. The situation here is that the government has been found to have broken an existing law. Rather than break that law the government should first repeal it. But this Conservative government has a number of times showed its contempt for parliament, it is now just showing contempt for the law.
    The court ruling found that Ritx broke the law by violating a section of the Wheat Board Act. As interpreted by the judge this requires that the government  consult the Board and hold a plebiscite among farmers to see if they support the changes. The government is appealing the decision but is going ahead with passage of the bill even during the appeal process.
   The Conservative government has been a long time critic of the Wheat Board and is supported by some farmers. However a plebiscite held by the Wheat Board showed a majority actually support keeping the monopoly. Nevertheless the Conservative election platform pledged to remove the monopoly.
   The monopoly was formed in the depression by prairie farmers who felt they were exploited by the big grain companies. It has been the subject of over a dozen complaints by the U.S. that the monopoly is an unfair marketing practice but all were lost. Now the Harper Conservative government has come to the rescue of the big grain companies. Of course this is all in the name of free choice. For more see this article.

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