Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Democracy According to the Canadian Wheat Board

Farmers not as in control of CWB as advocates insist

Apparently, this is how Canadian judges think democracy works:

Canadian grain farmers vote 62% in favour of eliminating the Canadian Wheat Board's single-desk monopoly on Barley. The government acts to carry out this decision. When 38% of grain farmers file suit to prevent this, the court decides in favour of the minority, denying the majority their right to chart the course of their own businesses.

At least according to Dolores Hansen.

According to Hansen, the Conservative government has "overstepped its boundaries" by trying to set policy for a government agency without passing it in the form of a law through the House of Commons.

This ruling comes on the eve of the move to strip the CWB of its monopoly.

Apparently, Hansen has forgotten about the March 28 vote in which Canadian grain farmers clearly called for marketing choice.

The vote occurred amongst complaints that the Conservatives were manipulating the vote. The complaints turned out to be baseless, as retired farmers and farmers who had moved out of the grain farming business were removed from voting lists. Brief meaningful controversy ensued when some farmers were accidentally mailed more than one ballot. However, their votes were confirmed via phone calls.

Supporters of the Wheat Board have insisted that only farmers can vote to change the CWB's policies, or vote it out of existence. Now, they've apparently changed their mind: only parliament can vote to change CWB policies, even if it frustrates the collective will of Canadian farmers--the same collective will they formerly claimed is the only legitimate way to make any changes to the CWB.

Now, this entire affair is essentially in the hands of the opposition, who have constantly and publicly announced their opposition to any changes in the CWB.

Apparently, this is how democracy works in the eyes of CWB supporters: set the rules to your favour. Then, if things still don't turn out in your favour, change the rules, in court, if necessary.


  1. Do we even have a means of recalling judges? Lately, with decision after decision, I keep finding myself wanting one...

  2. So the course ahead should be clear. Put forward legislation enabling the CWB vote, overriding this judicial decision. Make it a confidence motion: argue that the use of the courts to reverse any decision you find ideologically wrong is itself an abuse of power. Dare the Opposition parties to take the Government down on the issue of judge-made decisions overriding those who actually voted for a change. And, if defeated, run on, amongst other things, reform of the judiciary so these types of decisions stop.

  3. Apparently, this is how democracy works in the eyes of CWB supporters: set the rules to your favour. Then, if things still don't turn out in your favour, change the rules, in court, if necessary.

    And change the rules in the middle of the game and apply them retroactively.

  4. It's clear that CWB supporters don't have a clear idea of how it should be run.

    I think the funniest thing I ever saw in regards to this was a picture of a farmer protesting in favour of the CWB at a Conservative party press conference on a farm near Saskatchewan.

    The catch? The protester turned out to be a farmer from Ontario, where the CWB no longer holds a monopoly, because the farmers voted against it. As such, he actually gains an advantage over prairie grain farmers if they remain subject to the monopoly.

    It merely shows one where much of the protest is actually coming from.

  5. Anonymous10:05 PM

    Personally, I have some misgivings about the whole referendum becoming law idea. Remember Mercer's "Doris Day" referendum?

    That being said, I think that the Conserviative are pursuing the correct way forward in respect to the CWB. However, Harper et al may need to re-evaluate their process for obtaining legal opinion before pursuing a course of action. In the legal world, as with many other worlds, the golden rulw is never assume because it will make an Ass out of U and Me. In this case, barley farmers and the Conservatives.

  6. The point is that CWB supporters have always claimed that farmers have to change CWB policy. Suddenly only politicians can change CWB policy, and they have to do it by passing a law?

    Do all policy changes in government agencies have to be passed in the form of law now? What's the point of even having a cabinet if they can't set policy within their deparments?

    This activist judge has risked setting a very dangerous precendent.


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