Friday, December 09, 2011

Wheat Board update

The latest on the Wheat Board issue: "The Canadian Wheat Board and its supporters said on Friday they may seek an injunction to stop the federal government's move to end the board's monopoly on sales of Western Canadian wheat and barley." It's like an economic action plan for lawyers, of sorts. Also quoted in that piece, Ned Franks:
"That ruling of the court stands, it's the law," said Ned Franks, professor emeritus of political studies at Queen's University. "As long as that appeal process is underway, the government cannot implement the provisions of the law."

Parliament has the authority to pass legislation without court interference, but there are a few limits, Franks said. In particular, it must adhere to "manner and form" - that is, the law currently in effect. The government failed to do that when it introduced its bill to break the monopoly without holding a farmer vote, Franks said.
Here's a little light Friday quote to round out the picture in view of the Harper government's reaction to the ruling, i.e., to carry on regardless:
“67 The consent of the governed is a value that is basic to our understanding of a free and democratic society. Yet democracy in any real sense of the word cannot exist without the rule of law. It is the law that creates the framework within which the "sovereign will" is to be ascertained and implemented. To be accorded legitimacy, democratic institutions must rest, ultimately, on a legal foundation. That is, they must allow for the participation of, and accountability to, the people, through public institutions created under the Constitution. Equally, however, a system of government cannot survive through adherence to the law alone. A political system must also possess legitimacy, and in our political culture, that requires an interaction between the rule of law and the democratic principle. The system must be capable of reflecting the aspirations of the people. But there is more. Our law's claim to legitimacy also rests on an appeal to moral values, many of which are imbedded in our constitutional structure. It would be a grave mistake to equate legitimacy with the "sovereign will" or majority rule alone, to the exclusion of other constitutional values.”
That's from the Secession Reference on the interaction between democracy and the rule of law, two of the principal underlying principles of our Canadian constitutional order. It was cited in paragraph 27 of the Federal Court ruling.

I also think people may be glossing over paragraph 28 of that ruling where the judge ties the democratic structure of s. 47.1 of the Wheat Board legislation to Canada's NAFTA trade obligations. It's not really fleshed out by the judge, but I would expect to hear a little more about that on appeal. Something to think about.