(The following article is from the March 16-31, 2008 issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading communist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $25/year, or $12 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $25 US per year; other overseas readers - $25 US or $35 CDN per year. Send to: People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 133 Herkimer St. Unit 502, Hamilton, ON, L8P 2H3.)

A potentially crucial legal victory has been won in the struggle to save the Canadian Wheat Board. On Feb. 26, the federal government's attempt to remove the CWB's single-desk authority over barley sales was rejected by the Federal Court of Appeal, setting the stage for further debate in Parliament.

     The ruling upheld last summer's decision by Federal Court Justice Dolores Hansen, who quashed a cabinet order which would have taken away the CWB's single desk marketing of barley.

     At the time, National Farmers Union President Stuart Wells said Hansen's ruling "holds the government to account for that collusion and re-asserts the rule of law and democracy." He emphasized that by acting through regulatory change, rather than amendments to the CWB Act, the government was being unlawful, undemocratic, and unsustainable. At the legal hearing in Calgary, Wells noted, the government revealed that it had done no analysis of the legal or economic consequences of its Order-in-Council.

     Responding to the latest ruling, Kyle Korneychuk, an elected CWB director from Saskatchewan, said "I think it's a victory for farmers, but more so, it's an establishment of democratic principles. It's not a dictatorship. We're going to have a vote."

     To make the change, the minority Conservative government must now pass legislation in Parliament, where the Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois all remain opposed.

     Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has pledged to introduce legislation to change the CWB's mandate. While the Tories argue the change would give farmers "freedom of choice," Wheat Board supporters say the single-desk system ensures grain producers get fair prices instead of competing against each other for sales.

     In December 2006, the Harper government fired former CWB president and CEO Adrian Measner for his public defence of the Board's traditional role. CWB vice-president Deanna Allen was recently fired by Greg Arason, who was appointed by the Tory government to replace Measner.

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