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Agriculture

Scheer removes Bernier as innovation critic over posting book chapter online

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OTTAWA — Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer has removed Quebec MP Maxime Bernier from his role as the party’s innovation critic.

A senior Conservative source tells The Canadian Press Scheer made the decision after finding out Monday that Bernier had posted to his personal website a chapter on supply management that is part of his forthcoming book.

“He made a commitment to the leader and to caucus that he would no longer promote his book and he mislead the leader and the caucus,” said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Bernier posted the chapter on June 5 but Scheer was not made aware of it until Monday.

The move introduces a new fracture in an already tenuous relationship between the party leader and the man he beat out for the job a year ago.

Bernier first released the chapter in April, as a marketing tool for his book, “Doing Politics Differently: My Vision For Canada” which was supposed to be published in the fall. The chapter on supply management blamed the dairy lobby in Quebec for electing Scheer and called them fake Conservatives who only joined the party to vote against Bernier because he was advocating to get rid of supply management.

On April 18, after a tense caucus meeting in which other Conservative MPs accused Bernier of backstabbing Scheer and causing division within the party, Bernier announced he would postpone the publication indefinitely.

But on June 5, amid U.S. President Donald Trump’s latest attacks on Canada’s supply management system, Bernier quietly added the chapter to his personal website where it can be downloaded.

In April 2017, during the party leadership, Bernier penned an open letter to Trump in The Globe and Mail, thanking him for raising the issue of supply management and agreeing with him that “this protectionist system is unfair for the farmers in Wisconsin and other states, who cannot make a better living by selling their products to their Canadian neighbours.”

Bernier left the House of Commons before a vote Monday on an NDP motion condemning attacks by Trump and his officials on Canada, his tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum and expressing support for supply management and Canada’s agriculture industries.

The motion passed unanimously as all parties rallied behind Trudeau to support Canadian industries like steel and dairy against Trump’s accusations of unfair trading practices.

The issue of supply management could hurt the Conservatives in Quebec in the next election for the same reason it hurt Bernier in the leadership race if dairy farmers feel the Conservatives won’t support it.

The Conservatives have jumped on Trudeau in recent days for allegedly offering concessions to the U.S. on dairy as part of negotiations for a new North American Free Trade Agreement. Trudeau met with dairy farmers in Ottawa Tuesday to reassure them of his support for the industry.

The Liberals have been doing everything to sow the seeds of discontent in the party over Bernier’s position on supply management, taunting the Conservatives in question period about it regularly in recent weeks.

The dairy industry is on edge thanks to direct and repeated attacks by Trump, who set his sights on supply management during the U.S. presidential election and hasn’t let up.

Trump says Canada imposes 270 per cent tariffs on U.S. milk and calls it unfair. However, the U.S. exports more milk to Canada than Canada does to the United States and Canadian critics say the U.S. dairy farmers are suffering because they are producing too much milk, creating a glut in the market that is depressing prices.

Supply management is a pricing control system where quotas are set to regulate production of products like milk, eggs and poultry.

 

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


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Agriculture

Ellis Bird Farm… A place where nature and industry need each other.

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Can industry and the environment thrive side by side?  There’s an amazing park just west of Red Deer where industry and nature have combined to create something precious… The Ellis Bird Farm.

40 years ago, Union Carbide.. a huge multinational company was looking for a new home in Central Alberta.  Union Carbide wanted to set up an ethylene glycol plant along the Red Deer River, right smack in the middle of some of the best agricultural land in the country.

The last person many would expect to deal with the company was a slight and aging farmer, a bird lover named Charlie Ellis.   In the years after their parents died, Charlie and his sister Winnie stayed on the Ellis farm and cultivated their passion for nature.  Charlie started innocently enough with a few birdhouses, and a strong urge to protect native birds… tree swallows, chickadees, purple martins, flickers, and especially Mountain Bluebirds.  The birds flocked in record numbers to Winnie’s orchards and flower gardens as well as Charlie’s growing number of birdhouses stretching acre after acre.   When an agent of Union Carbide came for a visit.. to everyone’s surprise, Charlie proposed a deal.  If the company was willing to take care of his birds, if they’d promise to keep up what Charlie had built up… well then Charlie would sell his land to the company.   That was the beginning of Ellis Bird Farm.

Sponsored by DOW Chemical Canada and Ellis Bird Farm, Todayville is proud to present a series of features on the history of Central Alberta’s incredible prairie oasis and nature preserve… The Ellis Bird Farm.  In this video we hear from Jean-Yves Vanier of Dow Canada.

 


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Agriculture

Trudeau says he can’t imagine Trump damaging U.S. by imposing auto tariffs

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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he can’t imagine President Donald Trump will make good on his threat to impose new tariffs on Canadian autos entering the United States because it would amount to a self-inflicted wound on the U.S. economy.

Trudeau was forced to confront that possibility at his end-of-session news conference Wednesday because the U.S. Department of Commerce is investigating whether to slap a 25-per-cent tariff on cars and light trucks entering the U.S.

Trump is considering using the same controversial national security clause that he used last month to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and other major American allies.

Trump may pride himself on his unpredictability, Trudeau said, but that can’t possibly include doing damage to American workers and its auto industry, which is so enmeshed with Canada’s.

“I have to continue to believe that leaders will function in the interests of their own country,” Trudeau said.

“I have a hard time accepting that any leader might do the kind of damage to his own auto industry that would happen if he were to bring in such a tariff on Canadian auto manufacturers, given the integration of the parts supply chains or the auto supply chains through the Canada-U.S. border.”

Trudeau said he has no interest in addressing the recent personal attacks from Trump and his top economic advisers. He said his government will stay focused on continuing to advance the argument that current and future tariffs are bad for the work forces in both countries.

Earlier Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said she was heartened by the remarks of Trump’s point person on tariffs.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said he doesn’t see Canadian steel as a national security threat to the U.S., and that a revitalized North American Free Trade Agreement could make his government’s tariffs on steel and aluminum go away.

Ross also acknowledged that the U.S. doesn’t have a trade deficit on steel with Canada. In fact, he said it has a surplus with its northern neighbour in terms of dollar value.

Ross was testifying before a U.S. Senate committee examining the tariffs. The duties are based on the premise the countries are threats to American national security under the controversial Section 232 of U.S. trade law.

“We think that is self-evident, and that is what we have been saying from the beginning,” Freeland said of the security issue before applauding Ross’ observation on the trade balance.

“(It was) good to hear all of those comments from him.”

Under a grilling by Republicans and Democrats, Ross heard concerns that looming retaliatory tariffs by allies, including Canada, Mexico and the European Union, would kill American jobs and drive up prices for consumers.

In one key exchange, Ross played down Trump’s national security rationale, and instead linked the tariffs to the unresolved renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“The Canadian steel industry is not being accused of directly and individually being a security threat,” Ross testified. “The national security implication is in the aggregate, all of the steel.”

Ross said Canada and Mexico were initially exempted from the national security tariffs “pending negotiations of NAFTA overall.”

“Unfortunately, those talks were not able to come to a conclusion,” he said.

“Our objective is to have a revitalized NAFTA, a NAFTA that helps America and, as part of that, the 232s would logically go away, both as it relates to Canada and as to Mexico.”

For his part, Ross said U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer is optimistic NAFTA talks “could pick up steam” after Mexico’s July 1 presidential election.

One Republican lawmaker from Pennsylvania was critical of Lighthizer’s insistence on inserting a five-year sunset clause into NAFTA, a position long decried as a non-starter for the Trudeau Liberals.

“I’m very deeply concerned that the very provisions that Trade Representative Lighthizer is seeking would make NAFTA a much lesser agreement. It would weaken NAFTA. One of them is to have a sunset provision,” said Sen. Pat Toomey, who added it would lead to a “departure of investment from the United States, which would be harmful.”

Toomey said Trump’s use of Section 232 was “wholly inappropriate” and he renewed a plea to fellow lawmakers to support the bill he has co-sponsored with fellow Republican Sen. Bob Corker that would give Congress — not the president — the authority to implement that national security provision.

“I wish we would stop invoking national security because that’s not what this is about. This is about economic nationalism and an economic policy of managing trade.”

Throughout Ross’s testimony Wednesday, committee members criticized Trump’s tariffs.

Democratic Sen. Michael Bennett challenged Ross to say whether the U.S. has a trade deficit with Canada on steel.

“We don’t have a trade deficit of note (on steel),” Ross replied. “We have a surplus in dollars; we do not have a surplus in physical value.”

Bennett also asked Ross to explain “the national security rationale for putting a tariff on the Canadian steel industry, with whom we have a trade surplus?”

Ross described the tariffs as a tool to persuade allies to reduce the amount of Chinese steel that passes through their countries and into the U.S. market. 

Some partners, including Canada and the European Union have already taken positive steps in that effort, he said.

“The only way we’re going to solve the global steel overproduction and overcapacity is by getting all the other countries to play ball with us,” Ross said of U.S. allies slapped with the tariffs.

“And while they’re complaining bitterly about the tariffs, the fact is they’re starting to take the kind of action, which — if they had taken (it) sooner — would have prevented this crisis.”

Mike Blanchfield and Andy Blatchford, The Canadian Press



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