Connect with us
[bsa_pro_ad_space id=12]

Agriculture

$1.75B in mystery money could let Ottawa to start compensating farmers soon

Avatar

Published




OTTAWA — The federal government says it plans to spend .75 billion by March without having said what the money is for, though at least some of the cash is likely to go to farmers hurt by new trade deals.

The government remains tight-lipped about how it will use the rest of the “non-announced” spending it allowed for in last week’s fall economic statement.

In all, the government has made room for $9.5 billion worth of still-to-be-unveiled commitments over the next six years.

A government source says some of that will go to dairy, egg and poultry producers, whose protected domestic markets were opened up to more foreign competition under new North American and Pacific Rim trade deals. The source, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, spoke on condition of anonymity.

The fall statement said the government is still talking with farmers and processors about compensation for the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the recently ratified Asia-Pacific trade pact known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The negotiations will determine the size of the final package and how the money will be rolled out over the coming years.

In 2016, the Liberal government dedicated $350 million to help dairy producers deal with the impacts of Canada’s trade agreement with the European Union. The amount included a five-year, $250-million fund for milk producers and a second program worth $100 million for cheese-makers.

Looking ahead, Ottawa is also facing litigation related to Indigenous issues, including land claims, that could draw on some of the money.

Most of the yet-to-be announced funding has been dedicated to the later years of the projection, with $2.1 billion set aside for 2021-22, $1.85 billion for 2022-23 and nearly $2.8 billion for 2023-24.

One possible use for the cash: national pharmacare.

The governing Liberals have put together a group of advisers to consult Canadians and to explore options for a national program. The council is due to report in 2019, when the topic of pharmacare is likely to become an issue during the federal election campaign.

A spokesman for Finance Minister Bill Morneau argued the list of the government’s funding commitments in the fall update is comprehensive.

But Pierre-Olivier Herbert noted some measures cannot be disclosed yet due to cabinet confidentiality or because ministers have yet to make a decision. Issues of national security, commercial sensitivity, or litigation or certain matters related to trade agreements must also be kept under wraps, he said.

“The net fiscal impact of these confidential or sensitive measures is rolled up and presented at an aggregate level and will be detailed in due time,” Herbert wrote in an email.

Thanks to the stronger economy, Morneau had more than $20 billion in extra fiscal room over the coming years to work with, compared to the forecasts in last February’s budget. But he chose to announce new initiatives — including billions of dollars worth of tax incentives for corporate Canada — that will use up all that space and then some, contributing to slightly larger annual deficits beginning next year.

The document contained Ottawa’s long-awaited plan to help the country compete with the U.S. for investment dollars. It came in response to major American tax and regulatory reforms that many in the business community warn have eliminated Canada’s edge as an investment destination.

The package includes new write-offs that are expected to lower federal revenues by about $14 billion over the next half-decade all by themselves.

The fall update also contains no timeline to eliminate the Liberals’ shortfalls, which are now projected to be higher than $18 billion in each of the next couple of years.

The opposition Conservatives and some economists have criticized the Liberals for not providing a date to balance the budget. There are warnings the government could face big fiscal challenges when the next economic downturn arrives.

After the 2015 election, the Trudeau government abandoned vows to run yearly shortfalls of no more than $10 billion and to balance the books by 2019. Instead, it has focused on reducing the net debt-to-GDP ratio — a measure of how burdensome the debt is — each year.

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press


If you like this, share it!
Advertisement [bsa_pro_ad_space id=12]

Agriculture

PM worries China could target more Canadian goods as fears about soybeans rise

Avatar

Published

on




OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s worried an ongoing diplomatic dispute could see China target imports of other Canadian agricultural products as concerns grow about soybean shipments in particular.

One industry leader said Thursday that, without a clear explanation, Canadian soybean exports to China plunged suddenly from 3.2 million tons over the final four months of 2018 to just 3,700 tons through the first four months of this year.

Relations between Canada and China have deteriorated since the December arrest in Vancouver of Huawei senior executive Meng Wanzhou at the behest of the United States.

China was outraged by Meng’s arrest and has since detained two Canadians on allegations of espionage and sentenced two other Canadians to death for drug-related convictions. 

Chinese authorities have also blocked imports of Canadian canola seeds, alleging they found pests in shipments, and have increased inspections and paperwork related to pork.

“When it comes to China, obviously, our top concern is the release of Canadians who are detained in an arbitrary way by the Chinese for political reasons,” Trudeau said in French on Thursday during a visit to France, where he marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day. “We are also concerned by their actions on canola and the potential of other actions on other products.”

Trudeau told reporters that he will see if it’s “appropriate or desirable” to have a conversation directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping about a number of bilateral difficulties later this month at the G20 summit in Japan.

Later Thursday, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau told a parliamentary committee that she’s heard concerns about shipments of Canadian soybeans to China.

Ron Davidson, executive director of Soy Canada, said in an interview that China’s purchases of Canadian soybeans collapsed at the end of last year following a run of very strong exports.

“It’s not a slowdown — it’s a virtual halt,” said Davidson, whose members have reported the drop to Bibeau. “We can see what’s happening, but we aren’t certain why.”

He said it’s not unusual to see soybean exports decrease during winter months, but the speed, magnitude and timing of the crash this time around has alarmed the industry.

Davidson said he’s received reports of Canadian soybean containers held up in Chinese ports for longer than usual as authorities there conduct additional tests. It’s possible, he added, that the drop is partly due to an increased reliance by China on soybeans from other parts of the world.

Soybeans are Canada’s third-most valuable agricultural export after canola and wheat, he said.

Any prolonged crackdown by Canada’s second-biggest trading partner on shipments of key products like soybeans and canola could deliver a blow to the national economy.

New data released Thursday from Statistics Canada showed overall exports of canola fell 14.7 per cent in April after China started turning away Canadian canola seed.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s spokesman said it’s not enough for Trudeau to be concerned because he’s not a casual observer when it comes to the dispute with China.

“He needs to actually do something,” Brock Harrison wrote in an email Thursday.

“Mr. Scheer has on several occasions urged him to take concrete steps to respond to China’s actions against Canada and send a message that Canada won’t be pushed around. He has refused to act.”

The federal government says it has tried unsuccessfully to send a delegation of inspectors to China to examine Chinese evidence of pests in canola shipments. Canada has also been unable to schedule high-level engagements on the matter despite multiple efforts.

Bibeau told MPs Thursday that Canadian scientists finally had a conversation Wednesday night with Chinese customs officials about their canola concerns.

“They agreed to have more sustained discussions, telephone conferences on the subject — and they did not close the door to the delegation,” she said. “We are still asking for that, but the conversation has been re-activated and yesterday we could feel that we were at a different level … This is encouraging.”

Earlier this week, China’s ambassador to Canada said in an interview that Chinese officials investigated Canadian canola based on regulatory and scientific principles, and provided “concrete” documents to Canada to justify their concerns.

Lu Shaye added that the relevant Chinese departments no longer maintained contact with their Canadian counterparts, suggesting the matter was closed.

—Follow @AndyBlatchford on Twitter

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press


If you like this, share it!
Continue Reading

Agriculture

China-Canada differences go beyond Beijing’s critical, outgoing envoy: Carr

Avatar

Published

on




OTTAWA — Canada’s trade minister is downplaying the forthcoming departure of China’s outspoken envoy to Ottawa, saying differences between the countries stretch beyond anything at the ambassador’s level.

In an interview Wednesday, Jim Carr said the federal government is awaiting China’s decision on its replacement for outgoing ambassador Lu Shaye, who has had harsh words for Canada during a tenure that began in 2017.

“I don’t think that personalities are what would be at the centre of the issue here,” Carr said when asked about Lu’s past criticisms.

“The job of the ambassador is to express the view of his government. I would only assume that whatever is being spoken by the Chinese ambassador to Canada has the full support of the government, so this is an issue that goes beyond the ambassadorial level.”

Sources say Lu, who appeared to be more comfortable speaking French than English, will leave his Ottawa post in the coming weeks for a new position in Paris. Lu, 54, has also served as China’s ambassador to Senegal and as a counsellor for its foreign service in France, according to a biography on the embassy’s website.

His departure comes at a time, as Lu himself described in an interview Tuesday, of “serious difficulties” between the two countries.

Canada’s relationship with its second-biggest trading partner has deteriorated rapidly since the December arrest of a senior Huawei executive in Vancouver following an extradition request by the United States.

China was outraged by the arrest of Meng Wanzhou and has since detained two Canadians on allegations of espionage, sentenced two Canadians to death for drug-related convictions and blocked key agricultural shipments such as canola.

Lu has used strong words when talking about the relationship — for example, he has called Meng’s arrest the “backstabbing” of a friend and evidence of white supremacism.

He also warned of unspecified “repercussions” if the federal government bars Huawei from selling equipment to build a next-generation 5G wireless network in Canada.

Lu was critical of Canada before Meng’s arrest. Soon after arriving in Canada, Lu said he was struck by the negative view of China that he saw taking shape. In a 2017 interview, he blamed the Canadian media for disseminating a negative portrait of his country that depicted it as an abuser of human rights and of lacking democracy.

He said Canadian politicians sometimes had to “bow before media.”

In Lu’s interview Tuesday with The Canadian Press, he said China was not to blame for the ongoing dispute.

“But the Chinese government is waiting to make a joint effort with the Canadian side and meet each other halfway,” he said without specifying the necessary steps toward a resolution.

When asked about the possibility of freeing Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — the Canadians detained in China on espionage charges — Lu said their fates are in the hands of Chinese authorities. On China’s rejection of Canadian canola imports over Chinese allegations of pests, he considers the matter closed.

Carr said the Liberal government still hopes to solve the bilateral differences by engaging China on many levels, not just through an ambassador.

“We will reach out to whomever is in that place and make the same arguments to him or her that we’re making now,” Carr said before leaving for Japan on a trade mission to find new markets for Canadian products, including canola.

Carr said Canada is still keen to send government inspectors to China to explore evidence of pests in the canola shipments. But, he added, China has not invited Canadian experts to do so, and there has been no high-level engagement on the matter despite Canada’s efforts.

This week, China increased inspections of Canadian pork products over its concerns about smuggling and African swine fever — an illness that can be devastating among pigs. It came in addition to previously stated Chinese complaints over the labelling of Canadian pork.

Asked Wednesday if the inspections were a sign the dispute had reached a new level, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau declined to speculate and said: “I don’t want to escalate the situation.”

Word of Lu’s departure comes at a time when Canada does not have an ambassador in Beijing. Last winter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fired Canada’s ambassador, John McCallum, for going off-script in the government’s efforts to win the release of Kovrig and Spavor. Before his posting to Beijing, McCallum was a longtime Liberal MP and cabinet minister.

Former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson, who is now vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said Lu’s departure presents an opportunity to reset the relationship.

“We need to find a way to engage,” he said. “Not having ambassadors who are reliable or trusted is a major handicap.”

Lu did a good job of publicly reflecting the Chinese government’s positions and “seemed to take relish in putting it to us,” Robertson added.

“His words aggravated the situation. Behind closed doors ambassadors are also expected to find solutions and try to nuance divisions. Here I see no evidence of serious effort by Lu Shaye.”

Andy Blatchford and Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

If you like this, share it!
Continue Reading

june, 2019

fri21jun(jun 21)6:30 pmwed03jul(jul 3)12:00 amTHE WORKS ART & DESIGN FESTIVAL6:30 pm - (july 3) 12:00 am

sat22junmon01julEdmonton International Jazz Festival7:30 pm - (july 1) 9:15 pm

mon24jun1:30 pm4:00 pmWellness Recovery Action PlanningCanadian Mental Health Association1:30 pm - 4:00 pm

Trending

X