Man. court rejects ex-CWB directors’ bid to halt C-18

Man. court rejects ex-CWB directors’ bid to halt C-18

Federal legislation to overhaul the Canadian Wheat Board has withstood a legal test filed by the eight CWB directors who were legislated out of their jobs.

Justice Shane Perlmutter of Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench on Friday dismissed the eight ex-directors’ motion, filed in December, for an injunction against federal Bill C-18, the Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act.

The legal test for any such injunction, Perlmutter wrote, is to see whether there is a “serious question” to be tried; whether the applicant would “suffer irreparable harm” without the injunction; and whether the plaintiff or defendant would suffer greater harm as a result.

To that end, he described the ex-directors’ case as “weak” and wrote he saw little in it that would favour granting an injunction on the basis of either “irreparable harm” or the “balance of convenience.”

Perlmutter wrote that the “only substantive basis” on which the ex-directors’ case relied was that C-18 violated section 47.1 of the Canadian Wheat Board Act — the soon-to-be-repealed legislation governing the board’s single-desk marketing authority over Prairie wheat and barley.

In a separate Federal Court ruling late in 2011, on a case filed by the growers’ group Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board (FCWB), Judge Douglas Campbell found Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz’s actions — introducing C-18 without first holding a farmer plebiscite as per 47.1 — to be “an affront to the rule of law.”

However, Perlmutter said he is “not bound by (Campbell’s) decision” and instead ruled that 47.1 does not deal with an all-out “revamping of the single desk,” but rather the addition or subtraction of grains from the single-desk regime.

He also dismissed the notion that 47.1 is “manner and form” legislation — that is, a law whose language binds the development of any future legislation.

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