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Firms know little about trade deals as Canada pushes to diversify: federal survey

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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged European partners this week to finalize Canada’s trade deal with the EU, a push that came with his government facing a tough sales job at home: getting domestic firms to use it.

A recent government survey suggests the vast majority of small and medium-sized exporters, which are positioned to benefit from the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, could very well be asking: CETA who?

The survey said only seven per cent of the surveyed businesses were familiar with details of the Canada-EU deal, while fewer than three quarters had even heard of it. Only nine per cent said they took advantage of CETA and 17 per cent planned to use it.

The survey, commissioned by the Foreign Affairs Department, asked questions of 507 exporting companies online in March and April, and also involved 40 “in-depth” telephone interviews. It was delivered in June and cost more than $132,000.

Researchers asked questions on about a dozen of Canada’s free-trade treaties and found CETA wasn’t the only deal in need of a promotional boost.

“Among Canadian (small-to-medium-sized enterprises), there was fairly low awareness of Canada’s free-trade agreements,” said an analysis that accompanied the results.

“Few companies use any of these free-trade agreements; the exception is (the North American Free Trade Agreement).”

The survey’s objective was to gauge how many smaller firms were aware of Canada’s newest free-trade deals, to what extent they were taking advantage of them and the obstacles keeping firms from entering these overseas markets.

For years, federal governments — led by both Liberals and Conservatives — have struggled to get more companies to pursue fresh free-trade opportunities beyond the familiarity and convenience of the United States market.

Uncertainty around the critical Canada-U.S. trading relationship has grown since the election of President Donald Trump, making diversification a more urgent matter.

In addition to CETA, respondents were asked about Canada’s deal with Pacific Rim economies. That pact is known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and includes Japan, New Zealand and Australia.

Similar to the numbers for CETA, only seven per cent were aware of the CPTPP’s details and just over 70 per cent had ever heard of it. About 30 per cent of respondents said they were at least somewhat likely to start trading with CPTPP partners.

The questions also took up other free-trade agreements. The majority of companies said they had never heard of Canada’s bilateral deals with Ukraine, Israel, Chile, South Korea, Jordan, Panama, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru or Honduras.

When it came to factors keeping them from exploring faraway markets, the survey found that the high value of the Canadian dollar was seen as the top challenge, with 69 per cent of respondents describing it as at least a minor stumbling block.

The findings pointed to other problems, including uncertain regulations in other countries; lack of contacts; tariffs; a shortage of information on opportunities; linguistic and cultural obstacles; lack of financing; and Canadian export taxes and permits.

One-third of companies had no interest in other markets and, among those planning to sell abroad, the top targets were Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom — all English-speaking Commonwealth countries.

Trudeau talked up the benefits of the Canada-EU deal this week in Montreal, where he met with European Council President Donald Tusk and Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU trade commissioner.

CETA is supposed to give Canadian firms preferred access to a $24-trillion market and 500 million European consumers.

Canada has ratified CETA, but so far only 13 of the EU’s 28 member countries have done the same. More than 90 per cent of the deal came into force in September 2017 under what is known as provisional application but all the individual ratifications are needed for its full implementation.

Trudeau said CETA has already helped lift trade between Canada and Europe. He acknowledged, however, that Canada needs to do more to make sure it’s taking full advantage.

“Perhaps, the early numbers show that Europeans have been quicker to increase their trade towards Canada than Canadian companies have been able to engage with Europe,” Trudeau told reporters Thursday.

“But we have tremendous confidence that Canadian companies will continue to benefit and increase their opportunities to grow their businesses through selling more to Europe.”

—Follow @AndyBlatchford on Twitter

Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press


Agriculture

151st Cowichan Exhibition includes new category: best home-grown pot

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VICTORIA — One of Canada’s oldest fall fairs is putting a new twist on its annual showcase of local livestock, produce and fruit by adding a new category for best home-grown marijuana.

The Cowichan Exhibition in Duncan, B.C., which dates back to 1868, has created a best cannabis category to embrace legalization and celebrate local pot growers, said exhibition vice-president Bud James.

The fair starts Friday and the cannabis entries will be on display in the main hall at the Cowichan Exhibition Grounds along with the region’s top vegetables, fruits and baked goods. First prize is $5, second is $3 and third place gets a ribbon.

“We just decided this year, because it’s an agricultural product, and it’s been grown in the valley for years, and now that it’s finally legally grown, we would allow people to win a ribbon for the best,” said James.

He said fair officials believe the Cowichan cannabis category is the first of its kind in Canada.

An official at the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, a non-profit organization representing rural and urban fairs, said she had not heard of any other cannabis judging contests prior to the Cowichan Exhibition, but couldn’t confirm it was the first.

A fall fair in Grand Forks, B.C., is also judging local cannabis, but the event starts Saturday, one day after Cowichan’s fair. Those who enter the competition in Grand Forks can compete for best indoor- and outdoor-grown cannabis.

James said fair organizers contacted the local council and RCMP prior to adding the cannabis category. The mayor and council did not oppose the contest and the RCMP referred organizers to B.C.’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, the agency monitoring retail sales of non-medical cannabis, he said.

Organizers decided to go ahead with the event after its plans were not rejected, James said.

“Our interpretation of the rules are you can’t make it attractive to people under 19 years and we are not making it attractive,” he said.

James said the cannabis entries will be placed in a glass display case and the individual entries will be sealed in clear zip lock plastic bags.

“It’s being judged to the same standard of judging garden and field produce,” he said. “It’s done by uniformity. You want all three buds to be the same size, same shape, same colour. It’s also the dryness, texture and smell. It’s exactly the same way you would judge apples or carrots or hay bales. It’s all done the same way.”

James said the contest doesn’t involve sampling the product.

Bree Tweet, the manager of a medical cannabis dispensary in nearby Ladysmith, will judge the marijuana entries, said James.

The exhibition received 18 cannabis entries and James said the contest created a buzz at the fair.

“The enthusiasm of the entrants, the people bringing their entry forms, they are so enthusiastic it’s unbelievable,” he said. “They are so thrilled that it’s happening, that we’re doing it because they’ve been waiting for years for legalization and now, they finally got it and now they have a chance to show what they can do.”

James, who has entered his prized Dahlia flowers at past fairs, said the addition of the cannabis category has exceeded expectations with the 18 entries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

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Education

School board defends book pictured on principal’s desk after online uproar

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A Toronto-area Catholic school board says an online firestorm that erupted after a book on how to teach black students was photographed on a principal’s desk stems from a misunderstanding over the book’s contents.

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board says the book, titled “The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys,” has a provocative title but is actually a helpful resource on tackling racial and cultural oppression in education.

Michelle Coutinho, the board’s principal of equity and inclusive education, says such materials are a particularly useful reference given how diverse the student population is in the district and at that specific school.

The controversy emerged this week after a Brampton, Ont., high school, Cardinal Ambrozic Catholic Secondary School, posted a photo of its new principal on Twitter.

The photo, which shows the book on her desk, set off heated debate, with some suggesting it was a sign of racism or incompetence, or a prop meant to bolster the school’s image.

The image was also shared on instagram by 6ixBuzzTV, a popular account with roughly 1.2 million followers.

“LOOOOL. No principal should make it this far while subsequently needing a book like this,” one person wrote on Twitter. “She a bad principal,” wrote another.

Some defended the book, however, and the principal’s efforts to educate herself. “She’s making an effort to connect with her students, it’s more than most principals do,” another tweet read.

The board said it was surprised by the uproar and hoped people would look up the book before jumping to conclusions based on its title.

The principal intends to address the photo in a public announcement and invite any students with lingering questions to see her, said Bruce Campbell, the board’s spokesman.

The book, written by three researchers and published in 2017, aims to improve outcomes for black students by helping teachers create learning environments in which they feel nurtured and engaged. The title references the fact that white women make up the bulk of the teaching force in the U.S.

Coutinho said the book asks educators to challenge the biases they may bring into the classroom.

“We know that we’re steeped in a colonized kind of world view and how do we break out of that in our everyday practices?” she said, noting it has been used in the board’s anti-oppression training in the past.

Cardinal Ambrozic’s new principal was involved in a book study at several schools that delved deeply into the text last year, Coutinho said.

“If we’re going to make any changes to the education system, we have to start talking about these things and talking about them openly and honestly without shame or blame.”

 

 

 

 

 

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

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january, 2020

mon06jan(jan 6)8:00 amfri31(jan 31)12:00 amJanuary is Alzheimer's Awareness Month8:00 am - 12:00 am (31) Event Organized By: K. Jobs

sun12jan(jan 12)2:00 pmsun22mar(mar 22)5:00 pmAnne Frank: A History for Today opening at Red Deer MAG2:00 pm - (march 22) 5:00 pm mst Red Deer Museum & Art Gallery Address: 4525 - 47A Avenue, Red Deer

thu23jan(jan 23)6:00 pmsat25(jan 25)11:00 pmRed Deer Justice Film Festival6:00 pm - 11:00 pm (25) welikoklad event centre, 4922 49 St, Red Deer, AB T4N 1V3

fri24jan1:30 pm3:00 pmMonthly Mindfulness Drop-InMonthly Mindfulness Drop-In1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

mon27jan11:15 am1:15 pmLuncheon With Arlene Dickinson11:15 am - 1:15 pm Cambridge Hotel and Conference Centre, 3310 50 Avenue

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