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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

Constellation Brands spending $5 billion to increase stake in Canopy Growth

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SMITH FALLS, Ont. — Constellation Brands has signed a deal to invest $5 billion in Canopy Growth Corp. to increase its stake in the marijuana company to 38 per cent and make it its exclusive global cannabis partner.

Under the agreement, Constellation, a global producer of beer, wine and spirits, will acquire 104.5 million Canopy shares at a price of $48.60 per share.

Canopy shares closed at $32.15 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

“Over the past year, we’ve come to better understand the cannabis market, the tremendous growth opportunity it presents, and Canopy’s market-leading capabilities in this space,” Constellation Brands chief executive Rob Sands said in a statement.

“We look forward to supporting Canopy as they extend their recognized global leadership position in the medical and recreational cannabis space.”

The investment follows a deal last year that saw Constellation acquire a nearly 10 per cent stake in Canopy for $245 million.

The agreement Wednesday will see Constellation nominate four directors to Canopy Growth’s seven-member board of directors.

Constellation is also receiving 139.7 million new warrants, which are exercisable over the next three years. If Constellation exercises all of its existing and new warrants, its ownership in Canopy would exceed 50 per cent.

“Our business can now make the strategic investments required to accelerate our market position globally,” Canopy chairman and co-chief executive Bruce Linton said in a statement.

“Constellation’s concentration of global cannabis activities exclusively through Canopy, coupled with the investment and its expert capabilities in brand-building, marketing, consumer insights and M&A will be a huge benefit as we look to expand our portfolio in Canada, the United States and emerging cannabis markets around the globe.”

The investment, which is expected to close by the end of October, is subject to customary closing conditions, including Canopy shareholder approval and regulatory approvals.

The investment deal came as Canopy reported a loss of $80.3 million or 40 cents per share for the quarter ended June 30 as it continued to ramp up its operations ahead of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada later this year.

The loss compared with a loss of nearly $9.1 million or six cents per share a year ago.

Revenue for the three-month period totalled $25.9 million, up from nearly $15.9 million in the same quarter a year earlier.

 

Companies in this story: (TSX:WEED)

The Canadian Press


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Pot-based medical pet products closer to fruition as research grows

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TORONTO — Canadian pets are a few steps closer to getting their paws on pot-based medical treatments in Canada as more cannabis companies research marijuana’s efficacy for companion animals.

Canopy Growth Corp. is the latest medical marijuana company to enter the potentially lucrative pet market with its announcement this week that it will embark on a Health Canada-approved clinical trial to research the use of cannabis-based products to treat animal anxiety.

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s Dr. Shane Renwick says there’s been a flurry of cannabis-related pet health research as Canada’s laws on recreational cannabis crystallize ahead of legalization on Oct. 17.

The association’s national issues and animal welfare manager expects there to be more clinical trials in the pipeline going forward.

“We hope that there will be the research required to allow safe registered products on the market in the not-too-distant future… It will offer alternatives in a lot of cases to medications we’re currently using for a variety of conditions,” Renwick added. “So it’s an exciting potential that we see.”

Dr. Renwick said the association’s members have fielded many queries from clients asking about treating their pets ailments, such as pain, with cannabis. However, there is no legal avenue for veterinarians to prescribe pot, unlike for medical physicians, and not enough clinical evidence to support it, he added.

The association is hopeful that Health Canada will eventually approve some cannabis-based veterinary health products that its members can prescribe for their pet clients, and each clinical trial approval brings them “one step closer” in the process, he said.

Many cannabis companies have been positioning themselves to cash in on the drug’s potential for pets as the country prepares up to for legalization of cannabis for adult use this fall.

Canopy on Wednesday announced it got the green light from the Veterinary Drug Directorate of Health Canada for its research into the use of cannabidiol, also known as CBD, enriched oil to treat anxiety in certain animals. The research will be conducted by Canopy Animal Health, a division of Canopy’s affiliated research arm.

“The use of natural-occurring cannabinoids as a therapy for companion animals is a logical new forefront of medical discovery… These trial approvals mark a significant milestone on the journey of making cannabis-based drugs accepted and recommended by veterinarians,” said Marc Wayne, managing director, Canopy Health Innovations, in a statement.

CannTrust Holdings Inc. in April entered into a letter of intent with Grey Wolf Animal Health Inc. to develop cannabis products to support the well-being of pets. B.C.-based True Leaf Medicine in 2015 established True Leaf Pet Inc. to produce hemp-based products for sale worldwide.

True Leaf said that in its 2018 fiscal year, sales of pet products totalled $1.4 million, up 280 per cent from the previous year.

It’s tough to quantify the size of the nascent market for cannabis products for pets.

In 2017, sales of cannabis products marketed for pets at medical and adult-use cannabis dispensaries was nearly $7 million in California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, according to BDS Analytics. In Colorado, sales of pet products grew 49 per cent in 2017, versus growth across all product categories at 15 per cent, it said.

The pet pot segment growth, however, comes from an initially low base and its hard to gauge demand, said Greg Shoenfeld, vice president of operations for BDS Analytics, based in Colorado. However, in an increasingly competitive cannabis landscape, catering to pets can be a differentiator, he said.

“Being able to develop a presence with the pet loving consumer could be a point of strength,” Shoenfeld said.

Renwick believes there is a “huge” demand for safe, tested cannabis-based products for pets. The CVMA has been advocating that veterinarians should have the same ability as medical physicians to prescribe them as well.

“Our pets are living longer, generally, cancer and other illnesses can produce a good deal of pain and discomfort for animals near the end of their lives,” he said.

“And owners today are much more cognizant of wanting to alleviate any suffering that animals might endure.”

Armina Ligaya, The Canadian Press






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