Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Commission will inquire into egg industry

The Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission has told the egg board it’s going to conduct an inquiry into its affairs. It’s the long-sought answer to requests filed years ago by lawyer Donald Good, acting for Sweda Farms Ltd., and by whistleblower Norman Bourdeau. The Egg Farmers of Ontario Marketing Board has notified its members about the commission’s decision. Bourdeau, who filed the original request for an inquiry, alleges that L.H. Gray and Son Ltd. cheated on egg grading, inflating farmers incomes and egg board revenues, but short-changing the public by millions every year for at least 10 years. He also alleges that the egg board, Gray and Burnbrae Farms conspired to thwart Sweda Farms’ applications to import eggs from the United States when there weren’t any to be had in Ontario. Bourdeau has since withdrawn his request, prompting rumours that he may have been bought off by Gray. Meanwhile, there is somebody trying to block release of commission correspondence between Good and the commission and Bourdeau and the commission. That issue is currently with the Information Commissioner who has received an appeal from the party that wants the correspondence kept secret. The Freedom-of-Information officer in the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food has said the correspondence can be released, but the Information Commissioner is now in charge of deciding. Gray’s lawyer, Allison Webster, has been trying to block release of any information detrimental to Gray. She has just lost a court challenge to keep court documents secret, but still has an opportunity to appeal that decision.