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The Globe and Mail

Wheat Board supporters launch new court battle

Viterra Inc., which operates this grain elevator near Regina, is one of the companies cheering the end of the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly.

TROY FLEECE/Troy Fleece/The Canadian Press

Supporters of the Canadian Wheat Board have launched yet another court challenge.

The Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board filed Tuesday a class-action lawsuit in Federal Court asking the court to restore the board and give farmers $17 billion in damages.

"The class-action, if won, will reinstate our Canadian Wheat Board and just make sure that our federal government is not allowed to break the law," Friends spokesman Bill Gehl said from Regina.

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The action is separate from a lawsuit launched by wheat board supporters last month, which seeks $15.4 billion in damages if the wheat board is dismantled.

And another court challenge, launched in December, asks the Federal Court to declare government changes to the board as illegal and void.

The government passed a law last year to strip the board of its monopoly over western wheat and barley sales and allow farmers to sell independently.

Wheat board supporters say the change will drive prices down, but government supporters say farmers deserve the right to seek, and can get, higher prices on the open market. The law is designed to take effect Aug. 1 — the start of the next crop year.

In December, a Federal Court judge ruled Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz violated the Canadian Wheat Board Act, which requires a plebiscite among farmers before any major changes are made. But the judge stopped short of ordering the government to backtrack.

The government is appealing that decision. It says Parliament has the right to change laws without interference from the courts, barring any violation of constitutional rights.



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