Respondent granted itself jurisdiction to consider criteria not found in legislation

Ontario civil | Agriculture

GENERAL

Respondent granted itself jurisdiction to consider criteria not found in legislation

Respondent denied applicant accreditation as accredited farm organization. Respondent found applicant did not have standing to apply for accreditation. Respondent found applicant did not meet requirement of representing farmers in province. Respondent found applicant was shackled to its national organization. At time of application applicant had 2,247 farm business registration members plus additional 58 direct members. Issue of applicant’s standing was never issue on any of applicant’s prior applications for accreditation. Applicant brought application for judicial review to set aside decision and order directing respondent to accredit applicant as accredited farm organization. Application for judicial review granted. Respondent was directed to accredit applicant. Decisions on accreditation and standing were unreasonable. Respondent exercised discretion that was not conferred on it by Farm Registration and Farm Organization Funding Act, 1993 (Ont.). By elevating purpose of s. 4 of Act, respondent undermined purpose of legislation and purpose of hearing process. In raising issue of standing respondent allowed itself to bypass s. 5 of Act. Tribunal had no discretion and if criteria were satisfied accreditation was to be given. By expanding meaning of “represent” in s. 4(1) of Act, respondent granted itself jurisdiction to consider criteria that were not found in Act. Respondent’s approach was not reasonable given affiliations with national organization were not precluded by Act. Respondent focused on organizational structure rather than on determining whether interests of Ontario farmers were being served.
National Farmers Union - Ontario v. Ontario (Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal) (Oct. 16, 2013, Ont. S.C.J., Robert N. Beaudoin J., File No. Ottawa 13-1934) 235 A.C.W.S. (3d) 867.

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