The Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench has ruled Ottawa must answer for the Harper administration’s actions against the farmers who participated in the farmer-controlled Canadian Wheat Board (CWB).

In a written ruling released May 28, 2018, Master Berthaudin ruled against the government’s attempt to walk away from a putative class action which claims more than $145 million in damages are owed to the farmers of western Canada along with $10 million dollars in punitive damages.

“This ruling puts the government’s shirt in the wringer,” said Stewart Wells, Chair of the Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board (FCWB).

“In the proposed class action farmers contend the former Minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz, deprived farmers of monies they should have received from the 2010 and 2011 crop years. Instead of paying farmers, we believe this money was used to sweeten the pot for whoever was going to acquire the Wheat Board” Wells explained.

The government of Saudi Arabia and the multinational grain company Bunge ultimately acquired the Wheat Board from the Government of Canada, and created G3 Global Grain Group to assume the assets of the former CWB in 2015.

Anders Bruun, a Winnipeg lawyer noted: "the CWB’s annual reports for those crop years issued after the farmer elected directors were dismissed show that farmers were short changed by over $140 million even though the CWB Act required that money to be paid to farmers as part of their final payments for those crop years."

Bruun is representing the class’ proposed representative plaintiff, Brookdale, Manitoba farmer Andrew Dennis, together with Jordan Goldblatt and Louis Century who are Toronto based lawyers specializing in civil litigation and class proceedings.

With this week’s ruling, the Court clears the way to the next step which is a hearing to have the action certified as a class action, with Dennis as representative plaintiff.

The action was commenced in 2012 with the support of the Friends of the Canadian Wheat Board on behalf of all prairie wheat and barley farmers.