The Friends of the CWB is misguided in attempting to redefine history, court decisions and the various acts of Canadian Parliaments.
The Canadian Wheat Board Act of 1998 outlined a corporation with farmers making up the majority of the board of directors. Several lawyers paid by the CWB clearly defined to these directors that “the CWB and its assets and liabilities belong to the Government of Canada.” Ideologically driven individuals have blatantly misrepresented this to western Canadian producers.
To suggest the CWB Act allowed for a vote on its future is false, yet the FCWB and others still insist on misleading Canadians. They continue to reject the Supreme Court of Canada ruling, which refused to hear an appeal of judge Shane Perlmutter’s decision, which soundly overturned judge Douglas Campbell’s.
Concerning the democratic voting argument in the CWB Act, Perlmutter said, “The wording of s. 47.1 refers to the addition or subtraction of particular grains or types of grains from the marketing regime.”
Judge Daniele Tremblay-Lamer, in a Nov. 29 ruling striking down FCWB’s $17 billion class action suit, said “the government cannot be said to have acted wrongfully by enacting the (marketing freedom) act and there has been no deprivation of property. Losing the single desk to changes in the CWB regulatory scheme is not enough in itself to claim a loss of a property interest.”
In terms of CWB property or assets, funds for renovations of the building and refurbishment of the rail cars, which extended the life of these depreciating assets, came from re-mortgaging these assets.
Any value would simply be the difference between market value and the amount of the mortgage, which is most likely little.
Purchase of the lakers was a decision of the board of directors. The federal government refused to approve financial support. Even when lawyers defined clearly that the CWB, its liabilities and assets were owned by the crown, the majority of elected directors decided to use the pool account to buy these ships.
The contingency fund allowed the CWB to build a reserve to backstop programs. It earned more from Producer Payment Options after payments to farmers, which was deposited into the contingency fund, according to the act. These retained earnings were not pool account funds. These assets were not taken from farmers. Farmers who signed onto the programs were paid in full.
The government of Canada invested close to $350 million to allow the new CWB to fulfill its obligations, including staff changes, pension funding and contractual agreements. This ensured that money wasn’t taken from farmers during the transition to a voluntary corporation.
Any suggestion of misappropriation of farmers’ money lies squarely on some directors, who abandoned their legal responsibilities such as the duty of care and duty of loyalty owed to the CWB and its marketing of grain. This is the real scandal.
These directors are responsible for the millions of dollars of farmers’ money wasted while attempting to prove their superiority over the government of Canada, which created the CWB Act. I did not want to be associated with what I viewed as a misappropriation of farmers’ money. These decisions were at the heart of why I resigned.
Some might like to recoup costs from those who held back change, but most, including myself, want the new CWB to be part of a competitive grain industry.
The real justice is that the people challenging change must now use their own money. They do not have access to farmers’ money under the category of marketing costs and administration to fund their political battle.
Jeff Nielsen is a former CWB farmer-elected director from Olds, Alta.