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Alberta

Building the Canada we want. An alternate approach to “wexit” sentiments

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Submitted by Scott Cameron

Canada Chats: Building the Canada we want – An alternate approach to the “wexit” sentiments #visioncanada2119

Back in the eighties, I had a maple leaf proudly stitched onto the back of my new SunIce jacket and headed over to Europe. I wanted my Canadian identity to be prominent and unmistakable.  I still feel that way, and amid the hurt, anger, fear and frustration being felt across the country I’m not ready to throw in the towel.

For some, the pioneer spirit is taking hold and guiding people to consider forging a new path – to boldly break ties with our Canadian family and embark on a new journey – alone. I’ve lived in Alberta all my life, and I’ve heard separatist sentiments in the past, but this feels different.

I tried running away from my family once. I think I was six. Frustrated and angry about a decision, I threw a few things into a bag and marched out the door.  Not sure I was more than 150 feet from the  house before a new perspective began to emerge. The difference here is that comments are beginning to emerge that go beyond emotion – some people are actually trying to figure out what that might look like.

I don’t think we’ve really exhausted our efforts to pull Canada together. I don’t like the Alberta chatter about leaving confederation in the same way that I didn’t (and still don’t) want Quebec to leave.

I don’t like the idea of leaving my friends in Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan stranded between two former reflections of themselves to represent Canada – and all that we share as a nation. I want to believe that the majority of Canadians from coast to coast to coast want to keep Canada whole.

Under all our raw emotions, I think Canadians have more in common than we have differences. We might disagree about ‘how’ we’re going to protect the planet while exporting raw goods, ‘how’ we best take care of people in need while encouraging a strong economy and keeping people employed, or even ‘how’ we finally accept that both Ontario and BC make amazing wines – we don’t have to determine that one is better that the other – they’re both Canadian.

I want to encourage you to reach out beyond your comfort level and engage in a discussion about the future of this great nation. Call your friend in New Brunswick, Ontario or Alberta and ask them if they’d like to keep Canada whole. Bravely engage in a conversation with your aunt in the Lower Mainland about her environmental views. Be curious. Be courteous. Be patient. Have the conversation with your neighbour in #timhortons – it could become the new centre for Canadian democracy – #cafeofcommons.

Take the time to listen for understanding. Suspend your urge to prepare a defence while they’re speaking. Be prepared to leave the conversation without expressing your views unless asked. I met with a young communications student from the University of

Calgary this week. We had a coffee conversation about what these conversations could do for the country. We talked about social media, appreciative inquiry, the fact that everything seems to be positioned to create controversy because of its polarity, and he suggested that we might start by envisioning a unified Canada 100 years from now – 2119.

You know, I’m of the age that grandchildren would we a welcome addition to the family. I want them to grow up in a prosperous, clean, considerate and unified Canada – the best place on the planet to raise a family. I’m extending an invitation to you – my fellow Canadians – to engage in a conversation that’s aspirational and unifying – one that makes it possible for our future generations to be proud to wear the maple leaf.

Admit it, feels pretty darned amazing to watch our young athletes stand atop the world stage every four years as we hear our national anthem play. I don’t want our negative emotions to get in the way of that – I want my grandkids to experience that for themselves. Let’s exercise respect, integrity and curiosity to make Canada truly amazing.  I’m inviting you to join the conversation at #visioncanada2119.

Scott Cameron is the President/CEO of bassa Social Innovations – a consulting firm dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals, families and communities. As a community development professional, Scott understands and appreciates the value of dialogue and community engagement. He often finds himself in the midst of complexity yet remains optimistic about the future because he believes in the inherent ‘good’ among people – the desire to be good neighbours and to find collaborative solutions for some of our most challenging issues.

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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

How Canadian Dairy Farms Can Adjust to New Dairy Demand

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How Canadian Dairy Farms Can Adjust to New Dairy Demand

Many changes occurred around the world as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. In Canada, while schools and businesses closed, consumers flocked to the supermarkets to buy essentials.

Perishable goods flew off the shelves, resulting in limits being placed on items like dairy and poultry. The standard distribution system schedule put in place for dairy products could not keep up with buyers’ increased shopping.

While retail demand from grocers skyrocketed, orders from the foodservice industry plummeted. This has resulted in unforeseen fluctuations in the dairy market.

Hotels, restaurants, schools and eateries are closed or operating at limited capacity. As a result, there is now an enormous surplus of milk that has nowhere to go. Farmers are not equipped with storage spaces to accommodate the excess supply. Unlike agriculture products like potatoes, milk has to be sold immediately or risk spoilage.

Cows will continue producing milk, regardless of fluctuations in the market. While farmers have the option to reduce the size of their herd or change diet or nutrition, these things could prove detrimental when the market stabilizes.

The Supply Management System

A supply management system controls production quotas and imports for Canadian dairy, chicken, turkey and eggs. It was established in the1970s to coordinate production and demand while simultaneously controlling imports. By operating under this method, prices are stabilized for both producers and consumers.

A national agency represents each industry, and they are in charge of setting production levels that match provincial demand. Farmers in each province are allocated production quotas that are meant to prevent surpluses or shortages.

The original quotas were based on consumer needs pre-pandemic. As a result of these unforeseen events, farmers must now adjust to the new Canadian dairy demand. Here are four main ways farmers can adapt to the changing times.

  1. Dump the Milk

Producers say that discarding raw milk is inevitable at this stage. Farmers are reporting that they have been asked to take turns dumping milk. Although they’re paid for it, the waste could amount to as much as 5 million litres every week.

This disposal method is unsustainable and should only be utilized while the market is above capacity. Cows must continue to be milked to keep them comfortable and healthy, and production must continue to ensure product availability in retail stores.

  1. Donate to Food Banks

Rather than dumping milk, some farmers have begun donating to food banks to support Canadians in need. While this is a positive form of dispersing the milk surplus, it has the potential to overwhelm food banks that may not have the storage capacity to support this influx.

Additionally, the raw milk provided from farmers must be processed, which complicates the standard donation process.

  1. Improve Operations

Dairy farmers should focus on improving operations to become more efficient and cost-effective. Many producers have begun investing in updated equipment and robotics to save time and money.  Competition is set to increase as a result of import growth projected for the next decade. To maintain a market edge, operations should be improved and simplified wherever possible.

  1. Expand or Retire

In 2019, the Canadian federal government announced an aid package valued at $1.75 billion to compensate supply-managed dairy producers over an eight-year period. The Dairy Direct Payment Program is one part of this aid package and provides $345 million payments as compensation during 2019 and 2020.

The aid package was proposed as a result of import shifts. The Canadian government has opened part of its domestic market to foreign producers as part of several free-trade negotiations. To adapt to increased competition from foreign products, Canadian producers should plan to expand their operations or retire. Larger farms will be able to sustain demand while simultaneously upgrading their methods to be constantly improving.

Smaller producers may not be able to afford the necessary production updates to keep up with competitors.

Future Demand

These are unprecedented circumstances. As schools, businesses and restaurants reopen, dairy demand will increase. With indoor capacity requirements and shifts in consumer trends, consumption levels will undoubtedly continue to fluctuate.

While farmers should take steps to dispose of surplus responsibly, they should not halt production or decrease their operation size.

Read more from 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.  You can read more of my work by clicking this link: Conservation Folks.

Canadian Federal Government Taking Measures to Reduce Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

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