Senate to slap closure on CWB bill Monday

Canada’s Senate is expected to vote Monday to halt debate on the bill to shut down the Canadian Wheat Board’s single marketing desk for Prairie wheat and barley.

The Senate’s order paper for Monday (Dec. 12) includes a motion from the Conservatives calling for Speaker Noel Kinsella to halt proceedings if need be and put forward "all questions necessary," including the motion for third reading, on Bill C-18 by no later than 5:30 p.m. ET Thursday.

The motion, commonly known as closure, would not allow the Senate to suspend or adjourn the day’s sitting until "all proceedings relating to Bill C-18 have been completed."

The Conservatives’ deputy Senate leader, Claude Carignan of Quebec, gave notice during the Senate’s Thursday sitting that he will introduce the closure motion Monday evening.

The motion is expected to pass on the strength of the Conservatives’ 54-seat majority in the Senate.

The Liberals, who hold 42 of 105 Senate seats compared to 34 of 308 in the Commons, had called Thursday to halt passage of C-18, in view of a Federal Court judge’s ruling Wednesday that Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz "breached his statutory duty" in bringing the bill forward.

The government has said it will appeal Judge Douglas Campbell’s declaration but would proceed with C-18 anyway. Campbell’s ruling stated the minister’s conduct, not the validity of C-18, was at issue.

C-18, which Ritz dubbed the Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act, would allow Prairie grain growers will be able to forward-contract wheat and barley sales and directly arrange deliveries with any domestic or export buyer for delivery after Aug. 1, 2012.

The bill also legislates a process by which the Canadian Wheat Board Act would be repealed, and the CWB itself either privatized or dissolved, by August 2017 at the latest.

Campbell declared Wednesday that Ritz’s introduction of C-18 breached Section 47.1 of the CWB Act, which requires a producer plebiscite and consultation with the CWB’s board before crops can be removed from the single desk.

Related story:

Federal judge rips Ritz’s plans for CWB reform, Dec. 7, 2011

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