Update on the Canadian Farmers for Justice
posted December 1996
Jailed Farmer Gets Time on CBC
Andy McMechan, the farmer jailed for daring to believe in a free market,
and act on it, was interviewed by the CBCs Peter Gzowski on his
Morningside program. The interview aired on November 1. I didnt
hear about the interview until after it was aired so I am afraid I cannot
provide you with any details on how it went.
Federal Court Challenge Continues
Rick Dobranski took the stand recently for two days of testimony, and
expressed that he had no idea how restrictive the CWB control was to farmers
until he became a farmer. Dobranski, formerly a partner in Allstate Grain
Company, handled grains, oilseeds, pulse crops, spice crops, birdseed
and more on behalf of farmers into markets all over the world, from 1979
until Allstate Grain was sold in 1987. He continued on with the company
Under Allstate, Dobranski testified, farmers had several choices as to
how their grain was going to be priced. Allstate turned over all profits
to the farmers, not including expenses and a marketing fee which was stated
in advance on the contract. Allstate also dealt with farmers voluntarily
and was subject to scrutiny to Canadian Grain Commission regulations.
The CWB maintains that voluntary pooling cannot work, but Dobranski was
entrusted with over 400 pools, voluntarily, by farmers.
So whats happened to Dobranski since? He returned to his familys
farm in Roblin, Manitoba in 1991. When with Allstate Grain, he traded
grains all over the world in the free market, but he now was in a designated
area, meaning he had to sell his grain to the state monopoly and then
buy it back at whatever price they determined.
Dobranski offered stories of how the CWB unfairly treated him, including
charging him for storage and interest fees on grain that had never left
his farm, in once case charging over $60/tonne on grain that was still
in his bins.
Dobranski stated that if he had known how oppressive the CWB was to farmers,
he would not have returned to farm in a Wheat Board controlled area. Dobranski
now works part time with International Grain Trade in Vancouver, British
CFFJ, 18 farmers file Constitutional Application
The CFFJ recently filed a Constitutional Application to the Alberta Court
of Queens Bench pursuant to Section 11(g) of the Canadian Charter of Rights
and Freedoms to obtain a declaration from the Court hold that:
"failing to provide to the Chief Officer of Customs a license
granted by the Canadian Wheat Board for the exportation of wheat or
barley" does not constitute an offense under Canadian or International
Law and is not Criminal according to the General Principles of the Community
of Nations. They also insist that the charge does infringe upon their
rights as guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
and that the charge runs contrary to section 11(g) of the Canadian Charter
of Rights and Freedoms."
The CFFJ have argued that the powers of the CWB are illegal and therefore
unenforceable. David Sawatzky was acquitted on this ground and in the
court cases of Andy McMechan and Bill Cairns the judge also stated that
there was no law that a farmer had to provide a license to the Chief Officer
The CFFJ hopes that the Alberta Government Constitutional Lawyers will
join in the application and argue for the rights of Alberta farmers.
NCC Launches New Campaign
The National Citizens Coalition launched a campaign to free Andy McMechan
and scrap the CWB. Running in twelve newspapers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan
and Alberta, the ad slams the feds for imprisoning McMechan and calls
for farmers to have the freedom to market their grain either through the
CWB or independently. The NCC ad rightly states that if the CWB is providing
superior service, then they have nothing to fear from a dual marketing
arrangement. The ad also asks for donations, valid considering that they
are providing assistance, both financial and legal, to McMechan and his
Turn About is Fair Play
Allan Johnston of Johnsons, a grain broker, recently wrote a letter
that he sent to the CWB and several newspapers. If you are unsure how
the CWB treats farmers, then read this and learn what life would be like
if CWB rules were imposed on the CWB.
Another View: Pay Equity for the Canadian Wheat Board
On the weekend I was thinking about the pooling of grain and how the
wheat board claims that "single desk marketing" and price pooling
are the best thing for farmers in Western Canada.
If this is the case, then lets let them in. We will select a farmer appointed
panel that will secretly pool all wages of Wheat Board employees under
the Wheat Board Wages Board. We will get the right to do this by asking
Mr. Goodale to pass a Ministerial Order to this effect, which we know
he has the power and the will to do.
This panel will set their own wages, pensions, and have the right to deduct
all costs up front (secretly, of course) to prevent the opposition, whomever
it may be, from getting information on these costs. The panel will pay
each month about 60 per cent of their wages each month, and then later, after
two Christmas periods have passed, they will make a final payment on their
wages (less all costs of administration).
This whole thought is unbelievable. How can they possibly lose, just think,
less wages, and a whole new board employing a lot more Canadians for the
total well being of Board employees.
When the new board needs a new employee to cover some new area, wages
will never have to be discussed, because even if they have value added
benefits like a university degree or twenty years of experience in marketing
or accounting, all wages will be the same. People will be lining up to
work at the Wheat Board. But to make things even sweeter for all the employees,
if they want to quit the Wheat Board Wages Board, all they will have to
do is apply to the Farmers Panel to buy back their job. This panel, of
course, will act very fairly and set some sort of low buy back price for
that job on their services owed to the Farm Panel.
This program will be so widely excepted around the world that everyone
will want in, and will want the expertise on setting it up and controlling
it. Just think, the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool and all their employees will
adopt this as well. Then Leroy Larson (Sask. Wheat Pool President) will
be receiving the same wage as his elevator managers, everyone will be
happy. The Liberal government will believe so strongly in this policy
that is Canadian made, that they will adopt it for all politicians in
This is wonderful, why have they not thought of it before, with the close
working relationship that the Wheat Board has with college professors,
and all their collective wisdom, how has this been missed?
Allan Johnston, Johnstons
Ralph Goodale to be Subpoenaed
Forty-five minutes after David Sawatzky was acquitted in late May 1996,
Agricultural Minister Ralph Goodale passed an Order-in-Council which,
he said, plugged a 'loophole' in the CWB export monopoly. All the farmers
accused in Alberta made their export in April, before the change to the
CWB regulations by Minister Goodale. They simply need to know:
- Which loophole did the Minister plug?
- Since they were charged before the Minister created this regulation,
how can the charges be sound?
- Since the regulation which the Minister amended were those under the
CWB Act, why is he continuing to charge farmers under the Customs Act?
Why not being the Wheat Board out to enforce its own rules?
If you listen to the government, the farmers who want to practice freedom
are a fringe group and that farmers have traditionally supported a collectivist
state run agency to market their wheat for them. You might even believe
them...until a letter was discovered recently in a Manitoba farmer's desk.
The letter, dated 1952, brings up the same issues as the CFFJ does! The
letter shows that some farmers have always opposed a state run program
to market grain. Here's the letter's text:
January 14, 1952
Special Request to Manitoba Farmers
The wording of the ballot in the coarse grains Referendum deliberately
created the impression that the Wheat Board might be eliminated if a majority
of farmers voted "No".
That's why a big majority of farmers voted "Yes" and that is
also why our organizationb refrained from adivisng farmers which way to
vote. We don't want either the open market or the closed market to be
forced on farmers who are opposed to the particular system advocated.
What we DO want -- and what we firmly believe the majority of Manitoba
farmers want -- is freedom of action to market our grain either through
a voluntary board or the open market. We have reason to believe that governmental
authorities will make this possible if enough farmers indicate a desire
for freedom of action.
To guide us in this battle for freedom of action in grain marketing we
are now asking you Manitoba farmers to indicate below just how you would
like to have your grain marketed.
You do not have to sign this opinion poll if you do not want to -- but
please indicate your preference on this letter and mail it back as soon
as possible in the enclosed stamped envelope, so that we may know the
true desire of Manitoba farmers.
Yours very truly,
Bruce MacKenzie (signed)
Farmer' Protective Assn. of Manitoba
Do you wish to exercise freedom of action in marketing your oats and
barley, whereby you can use EITHER a voluntary board OR the open market?
Write "YES" or "NO" below.
This letter does show that some farmers have always been opposed to a
forced state run system. The government refused to listen then...and is
doing so now.
Support freedom...support the CFFJ!
Main | 1996