While the Saskatchewan governmentâ€™s decision to take the federal government to court over Equalization has captured more headlines, the Saskatchewan government is also helping to finance legal action against the federal government’s handlingÂ ofÂ the Canadian Wheat Board:
A group of farmers planning to launch court action to prevent an end to the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly on barley sales will get financial backing of at least $30,000 from the Saskatchewan government.
NDP Agriculture Minister Mark Wartman said the province is chipping in to help Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board cover legal costs because changes to the CWB by the federal government mean Saskatchewan farmers will lose out on $40 million a year.
“When you look at $40-million potential annual loss you can count on the fact that we’re prepared to put significantly more than the $30,000 (in) if that’s what it takes,” Wartman said Wednesday, after meeting with two members of the Friends group at the Legislative Building.
“I can tell you that any investment that we make here is on behalf of Saskatchewan taxpayers as well as the farmers of Saskatchewan.”
The group is also getting $20,000 from the NDP government in Manitoba, and says many individual farmers have offered support.
The federal Conservative government announced Monday that regulations to end the CWB’s monopoly on barley sold to Canadian maltsters and export markets will take effect Aug. 1. In turn, a group of CWB supporters said a court challenge will be filed against the regulatory changes.
The group has said that federal Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl can’t make changes by cabinet order, arguing that legislative amendments would need to be passed in Parliament.
The province said it is also exploring any other actions it could take to help the wheat board remain the “single-desk” seller of western barley.
But Saskatchewan Party agriculture critic Bob Bjornerud called the cash infusion into the pending legal battle a waste of taxpayer money.
“No. 1, if Mr. Wartman has got $30,000 to put in agriculture, there’s a number of better areas (where) he could do that,” Bjornerud said.
. . .
To put $30,000 in perspective, it’s about 60% of what the Saskatchewan government paid the Conference Board for an extremely flimsy study of TILMA, according to a recent “access to information” request.