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by BETTER FARMING STAFF
Ontario Pork withdrew from Hog Industry Advisory Committee meetings yesterday, Chairman Curtiss Littlejohn said this morning, citing a possibility that the marketing board’s continued participation would be “in contempt” of Farm Products Appeal Tribunal regulations.
“We did not walk out of the meeting,” Littlejohn told Better Farming. A week ago, he said, Ontario Pork requested that the Commission bring a motion before the Tribunal to define the terms of the stay on proceedings.
Two farmers, as well as the Huron Pork Producers Association have appealed the Commission’s October decision to strip Ontario Pork of its agency’s powers.
Tribunal regulations stipulate that a stay remains in place while an action of the Commission or a marketing board is being appealed.
On Monday afternoon, before 5 pm, Littlejohn says, Ontario Pork informed the Commission chair Geri Kamenz and chair of the Advisory Committee Ken Knox that Ontario Pork would not take part until there was a ruling.
Kamenz told Better Farming the Commission received “a clear message” from its legal advisors: “You cannot implement, under a stay, any decisions. But there is nothing to prevent you from continuing to do the planning, to continue to have discussions, to identify what needs to happen at some point in the future when the decision is implemented.”
Kamenz says Commission staff and board members met with Ontario Pork last week to deliver the message “that planning had a green light to continue” but Ontario Pork wanted, and received, more assurances from the Commission in writing.
“The Commission has decided to drive on with the process,” Littlejohn said. “We will not take part until the Tribunal decides what the scope is. … Ontario Pork has to live by the rules.”
“We want the Tribunal to define the stay. We feel that to continue to do work would be to predetermine what the outcome of the Tribunal (hearing) might be.”
“We will not place Ontario Pork in a position of possibly being in contempt of the Tribunal’s regulations.”
“As soon as the Tribunal defines the stay and what we can and cannot do, Ontario Pork will be back at the table … if that’s what the Tribunal says that we can do.”
In a letter to the Tribunal dated Jan. 29, Commission lawyer Robert Jaworski wrote that he intended to ask the Tribunal to revoke the stay or limit or define it, when a pre-hearing conference is held later this month. BF
Commission plans to ask Tribunal to throw out appeals on pork ruling