CWB class action seeks move to Manitoba court

Lawyers representing Manitoba farmer Andrew Dennis have filed a statement of claim with the Court of Queen’s Bench in Winnipeg, seeking certification for a class action lawsuit on behalf of all western Canadian farmers who delivered wheat and barley to the Canadian Wheat Board during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 crop years.

The statement of claim, which lists the Government of Canada, G3 Global Grain Group and G3 Limited as defendants, contends that $145 million that should have been paid to farmers, was withheld and transferred to a contingency fund controlled by the Canadian Wheat Board.

A statement of claim contains unproven allegations upon which the plaintiff plans to base the lawsuit. A statement of defence normally follows with the defendants’ response to the allegations.

The statement of claim also seeks compensation for about $6 million, which it claims was wrongfully used to cover transition costs when the CWB was eliminated and its assets were “commercialized.”

G3 acquired the assets of the CWB as part of a government sanctioned sale process.

“When we were reviewing the CWB’s Annual Reports for 2010-11 and 2011-12, it appeared that $145 million, which should have been paid to farmers as part of their final payment, had been withheld and transferred to the CWB’s Contingency Fund” stated Dennis in an April 24 news release.

Winnipeg lawyer Anders Bruun is one of the lead lawyers representing Dennis in the action.

“Some restructuring expenses were paid from the pooling accounts, but the contingency fund appears to be the largest single source of apparently misappropriated funds,” Bruun said.

Dennis, who farms near Brookdale, Man., had previously asserted a claim against the Government of Canada and the Canadian Wheat Board in Federal Court.

On May 15, Dennis is expected to ask to discontinue the Federal Court proceedings in favour of the Manitoba class action.

Stewart Wells, a farmer from Swift Current, Sask., and chairperson of the Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board said the claim initiated by Dennis is about accountability and ensuring that farmers receive what rightfully belongs to them.

“This claim is about establishing accountability for the disposition of the Canadian Wheat Board, allocating financial responsibility to the appropriate parties, and ultimately getting any funds recovered back to prairie farmers.”

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