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Ambrose disagrees with Scheer’s assertion that Trudeau caved to Trump on NAFTA

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Rona Ambrose

OTTAWA — The Conservatives’ former leader doesn’t agree with the current leader’s assertion that Canada got taken to the cleaners by Donald Trump on the renegotiated NAFTA.

Rona Ambrose, who was interim Conservative leader after the party’s 2015 election defeat, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did make some concessions to get a deal — particularly offering up some limited access to Canada’s supply-managed dairy sector — but also made some important gains.

“I think at the end of the day, we came out doing well,” she said in an interview Tuesday.

Andrew Scheer, who took over the Conservative helm from Ambrose in 2017, has called the new NAFTA a “historic humiliation” and has accused Trudeau of “capitulating” in the face of the mercurial U.S. president’s threats to scrap NAFTA altogether if he didn’t get a new continental trade deal favouring the United States.

Scheer raised the issue again Tuesday in a statement challenging Trudeau to take part in a leaders’ debate on foreign policy scheduled for Oct. 1, less than three weeks before the Oct. 21 federal election.

“(Trudeau) has been incredibly weak on the world stage — backing down to Donald Trump on NAFTA, humiliating Canada and severely damaging relations with India and failing to stand up for Canada’s interests in China,” he said.

Scheer’s assessment of the new NAFTA is not shared by Ambrose, who was a member of a panel Trudeau appointed to provide advice and help create a united multi-party front during the turbulent negotiations.

“I think even the most critical economic analysis shows that, in terms of any loss of GDP, it’s a wash between the U.S. and Canada and Mexico gets hardest hit,” she said.

One assessment by the C.D. Howe Institute found that all three countries will be worse off if the treaty is approved by their legislatures and comes into force: the U.S. economy will be 0.1 per cent smaller than it otherwise would have been, the Canadian economy 0.4 per cent smaller, and the Mexican economy 0.79 per cent smaller. The effects are primarily because of U.S. efforts to get more protections for its manufacturing sector, the analysis found.

“Yes, we gave up some access (in the dairy sector) but we have to remember what we got in return, which was Chapter 19 … That was a big one for us, for Canada,” Ambrose said.

Chapter 19 lays out the trade agreement’s dispute-resolution mechanism and is, in Ambrose’s view, “the heart of the deal for Canada.” Trump was determined to scrap it and allow American courts to judge trade disputes in future but the Trudeau government held firm that some kind of independent dispute-resolution system must be part of the deal.

“It wasn’t an idle threat (from Trump),” said Ambrose. “They were extremely critical of Chapter 19 and I think right up to the last minute it was their intent to scrap it.”

In addition, Ambrose said Canada scored success on having international labour standards and environmental principles entrenched in the deal.

Ambrose said Scheer’s criticism of the dairy concession is consistent with his strong support for supply management. Dairy farmers were instrumental in his leadership victory over Maxime Bernier, who advocated dismantling supply management and has now left the Tories to found his own party.

Scheer, who has dubbed the new trade pact NAFTA 0.5, has also criticized the deal for extending patent protection for pharmaceuticals, which could drive up the cost of prescription drugs. He’s also maintained the deal makes Canadian automakers less competitive and that it gives the U.S. “unprecedented” say over Canadian negotiations with future potential trade partners.

“The prime minister had a once-in-a-generation opportunity to negotiate a better deal and he failed,” Scheer told the House of Commons last May. “He gave Donald Trump everything the president wanted and more.”

But Ambrose said she doesn’t think Canada was outmanoeuvred by Trump.

“No. I think at the end of the day, there’s three parties, everyone gained a little and everyone gave up a little. That’s the nature of a negotiation.”

 Former Conservative cabinet minister James Moore, who also served on Trudeau’s NAFTA advisory panel, refused to comment on Scheer’s contention that Trudeau caved in to Trump.

“It’s a fair question, it’s a reasonable story but I’m not going to get sucked into the election,” Moore said in an interview.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

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Agriculture

Why Canadians Should Care About Land Loss

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Why Canadians Should Care About Land Loss

Developments are increasingly taking over Canadian farmland. Farms once took up much of Canadian land. However, that case is not true today. Only about 5% of Canada’s land is considered prime farmland. This prime land borders one of Canada’s fastest-growing regions, and once suburban development overtakes it, Canadian farmers will have a challenging time providing food for the cities.

Farmers in Canada make their livelihood by planting, growing, harvesting and distributing food to the Canadian populations. Without land, both farmers and the rest of those living in Canada will not get fresh, Canadian grown produce.

Here are some reasons why Canadian farmers should care about land loss:

  1. Farmland Provides Food

While this is an apparent reason, it’s an essential one. Prime farmland in Canada produces food for major Canadian cities. As farmers continue to lose land, they have to rely on a smaller acreage to make the same amount of food — if not more — for the growing population.

Over the past 10 years, almost 1 million hectares of agricultural land has diminished due to development and growing populations. Agriculture continues to adapt to land loss. However, further technological advancements must first take place to grow enough produce vertically rather than horizontally.

  1. Land Preservation Will Help the Economy

Farmland preservations come with a wealth of economic benefits. Agriculture contributes to the economy through the following ways:

  • Sales: For the economy to survive, there needs to be consumer demands and sales. Almost everyone purchases produce, so there will always be a demand for those goods. Without land to grow agricultural products, no sales will be made, and the economy could suffer.
  • Job opportunities: Less than 2% of Canada’s population works in the agriculture industry. While it’s not much, that’s still over 750,000 people. Preserving farmland shows a commitment to the industry. Land loss would create job loss. However, maintaining the farmland — and even reclaiming it, along with pastures — could boost the sector and, therefore, the economy. It would provide unemployed people with job security.
  • Secondary markets: Farmers are just one part of the food business. Because of farmers and farmland, secondary markets can thrive. These would include processing businesses, restaurants, schools, grocery stores and even waste management companies.

Canadian farmers should care about land loss because standing back and allowing companies to overtake the farmland could seriously affect the economy.

  1. Farmland Benefits the Environment

Wildlife often depends upon farmland for both food and habitat. Various types of farmland create diverse habitats for many different species. Without land protection, these habitats and food sources would be destroyed, leaving many animals without a place to survive. Many would have difficulty finding a native habitat.

Additionally, growing crops helps eliminate some of the carbon dioxide released into the air. Air pollution could decrease for Canadian cities as long as no more farmland is used for development.

One major problem occurring with Canadian farmland is desertification. This happens when the soil loses nutrients and becomes barren. The urbanization of Canadian farmland is the primary contributor to desertification, which speeds up climate change and harms the environment. Keeping farmland as-is will slow down climate change.

  1. Land Loss Affects Farmers’ Jobs

Perhaps the main reason why Canadian farmers should care about land loss is because their livelihood could be taken away. If they don’t have the means to keep up with technological advancements in the agricultural industry, they will not be able to continue their jobs if they experience land loss.

Agriculture is an essential industry. Not everyone can pick up the skills needed to grow their own food, and so many people depend upon farmers for nutrition and goods.

Take a Stand to Preserve Farmland

Farmland is a worthwhile and precious resource for many people. Reduction in farmland acreage will hurt Canadian farmers and the rest of the population, the economy and the environment. Taking steps to prevent more land loss can slow the rates of destruction and keep natural habitats thriving for both humans and animalls.

Click here read more stories by Emily Folk. 

I’m Emily Folk, and I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. Growing up I had a love of animals, and after countless marathons of watching Animal Planet documentaries, I developed a passion for ecology and conservation.

Canadian Agriculture More Energy Intensive, More Efficient

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Agriculture

Canadian Agriculture More Energy Intensive, More Efficient

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Canadian Agriculture More Energy Intensive, More Efficient

It’s no secret that agriculture has contributed to climate change through various means. For example, you may know that livestock generates greenhouse gas emissions due to how farms process it. That said, it’s now clear that farmers have found sustainable ways to offset those contributions. In Canada, it’s all about energy use.

Here’s how Canadian farmers have become more efficient as they raise crops and livestock, setting a standard the world should follow.

Energy Demand and Consumption Have Fluctuated

The demand for energy has increased across the agricultural sector as a whole. However, it’s key to note that farmers have begun to use less energy despite that fact. That points to more efficient practices. The farmers who complete their work productively save time, money and energy. As a result, Canadian workers have reduced their energy consumption per dollar by 17%. That’s thanks to sustainability.

The most common energy sources include fuel, gas and electricity. It’s how farmers use those resources that counts. Combined with technology choices and new practices, it’s clear that efficiency is more achievable than ever.

What Contributes to This Phenomenon?

It’s crucial for people in agriculture to explore eco-friendly alternatives. The grasslands that many western Canadian farmers cultivate contains excess carbon, so you can imagine what the country as a whole holds underneath its surface. Farmers have now adopted new methods to adjust how they harvest their crops. These systems are better for production, as well as soil and seed health overall.

The agriculture industry has gone through many changes, too. There are fewer farms — but those that still operate have employed agricultural technology to be as efficient as possible. These tools include different equipment that cuts down on time to increase proficiency. Plus, it’s now more common to use solar power as an alternative to traditional energy solutions.

Why Accuracy and Precision Matters

It’s a lot easier to be energy efficient when you don’t waste your resources. The means farmers practiced before they used specific innovations often created a time deficit. If you have a smaller machine, you likely need to do twice as much work. However, when you have access to equipment that fits your field, you don’t have to be as wasteful. The accuracy and precision created by technology make this a reality.

Soil Conservation Is Led by Ranchers

Many farmers have looked to ranchers for help. It’s a native part of ranching to preserve topsoil and other elements that are inherently sustainable. As a result, it seems like ranchers have been leading the charge against climate change for decades. The tactics they use to avoid tilling soil, for example, help preserve the amount of carbon that lies underneath the Earth’s surface.

The “no-till” practice is efficient in its own right. Rather than till your soil to plant a new crop, you simply leave behind what’s already there. This method is much better for soil nutrition, and it can keep carbon exposure at bay. As a result, you have much fewer carbon emissions. In general, the idea of soil conservation isn’t a new one, but old tricks can still work alongside modern technology.

The Future of Agriculture in Canada Looks Bright

If farmers continue on this path, it’ll be clear that climate solutions are at the forefront of their minds. These efforts create more benefits for them as they save time and money. Plus, there’s always the responsibility of maintaining the planet’s health. After all, without a strong ecosystem, agriculture would suffer. Through means that are more accurate and conservative, Canadian farmers have been able to become more efficient. Click here read more stories by Emily Folk. 

I’m Emily Folk, and I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania. Growing up I had a love of animals, and after countless marathons of watching Animal Planet documentaries, I developed a passion for ecology and conservation.

 

 

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