Grain Farmers sue Ottawa for $15.4 billion

December 30, 2014 8:00 pm Published by

A class action against the federal government was launched Monday. It asserts $15.4 billion be repaid to farmers upon the dismantling of assets owned by the Canadian Wheat Board.

By: Josh Tapper Staff Reporter, Published on Mon Jan 09 2012

Disgruntled Canadian grain farmers are asking for $15.4 billion in damages from the federal government following the dismantlement of the Canadian Wheat Board.

The lawsuit, filed in Saskatoon on Monday, comes nearly one month after the Conservatives successfully ended the board’s marketing monopoly under the Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act, Bill C-18.

The new bill means wheat and barley producers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba can market their grains to processors without the CWB. Membership in the 77-year-old agency becomes voluntary on Aug.1, the beginning of the 2012 crop year.

The class action represents all farmers who sold grain to the wheat board between Jan. 1, 2011 and Aug. 1.

On Monday, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz criticized the lawsuit, calling it an attempt by some to challenge the legitimacy of the new CWB.

“It’s disappointing to see further misguided legal action against western Canadian farmers and their right to the same freedoms as farmers in Ontario already enjoy,” Ritz said in a statement.

Regina-based lawyer Tony Merchant, whose firm, Merchant Law Group, drafted the statement of claim, said the class action is not a criticism of the government’s decision to de-monopolize the CWB. Instead, the lawsuit seeks compensation for the wheat board’s financial assets, which stand to be subsumed by the Crown under the new agency.

“The government is at liberty to do what a majority government wants to do, whether that’s the correct decision or the wrong decision,” Merchant said. “If the government takes away assets of farmers, then the government has to pay for those assets.”

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