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NAFTA Sticking Point Number One: The Dairy Industry

by John Brian Shannon

One of the main sticking points in the ongoing NAFTA re-negotiation is Canada’s regulated dairy industry vs. America’s market-driven dairy industry. And it shouldn’t be.

The dairy industry in Canada uses a system called ‘Supply Management’ to produce only as much milk as is required (with no waste) for the Canadian market, and unlike the American dairy industry it isn’t an export-driven model.

Yet, it’s the United States under President Donald Trump that is pressing Canada to accept American milk into the Canadian market. That same United States subsidized its dairy industry to the tune of $22.2 billion (2015) a number that increases every year. In fact, without massive subsidies American dairy producers would go bankrupt in a year.

U.S. dairy subsidies equal 73% of producer returns, says new report

“Based solely on the USDA’s national average farm-gate price and national average costs of production, Clark says American dairy farmers lost money every year from 2005 to 2016. The report figures support granted to U.S. dairy farmers in 2015 represented approximately $0.35 per litre — almost three-quarters of producers’ revenue.” — RealAgriculture.com

Why President Trump or anyone in America’s dairy industry would want to subsidize Canadian consumers by $1 per gallon is a complete mystery.


American Milk Has High Levels of Growth Hormone and Antibiotics that are Illegal in Canadian Milk

Not one gallon of U.S. dairy product is allowed to be sold in Canada for this reason, although some Canadians do cross the U.S. border and are allowed by the Canada Border Services Agency to return with small amounts of American dairy products for their own consumption (but not for resale).

There are up to 20 chemicals, hormones and antibiotics in milk and Monsanto’s glyphosate is toxic to dairy cows

“According to the Daily Mail, a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry released information that cow’s milk contains traces of anti-inflammatory drugs such as niflumic acid, mefenamic acid, ketoprofen, diclofenac, phenylbutazone, naproxen, flunixin, diclofena. The researchers also discovered hormones (both natural oestrogen and 7-beta-estradiol), antibiotics, anti-fungal drugs, steroids and Anti-malaria drugs (pyrimethamine) in milk and dairy products.” — excerpt courtesy of SeattleOrganicRestaurants.com

Will Canadians want to purchase dairy products sourced in the United States where such growth hormones, chemicals and antibiotics are on the ingredient list? Likely not.

However, those living in poverty might. Prison administrators in Canada who feed thousands of people every day might enjoy saving $1.00 per gallon of milk and save even more by purchasing American cheese and other dairy products — those savings courtesy of the American taxpayer.


Canadian Cows are Happy Cows!

(Because they don’t have to take bovine growth hormone or other nasty medicines or chemicals)

The happy cows at Harmony Organic in Ontario, Canada

The cows at Harmony Organic in Ontario, Canada are happy because they don’t have to take bovine growth hormone or other chemicals or drugs. Image courtesy of HarmonyOrganic.ca

But it’s not all cowbells and sunny meadows for the Canadian dairy industry. Canada employs the Supply Management system which plots exactly how much milk will be required annually and the country’s milk producers must comply.

Canada’s dairy industry regulates the supply to ensure the optimum amount of milk for the Canadian market without the oversupply spikes or undersupply crashes that other countries experience due to market forces.

It means that every year some amount of Canadian dairy product is poured back onto the fields so that prices will stay high enough for Canada’s milk producers to stay in business. While pouring milk on fields re-adds vital nutrients to the soil it’s an expensive way for farmers to condition their soil. Consequently, it doesn’t happen very often.

Canada’s dairy industry is sized to fit the Canadian market and very little of the country’s milk is exported, therefore, American milk producers rarely compete with Canadian milk producers anywhere on the planet.

Canada’s dairy industry contributes about $20 billion CAD to Canada’s GDP, which is smaller than the $21 billion USD that the California dairy industry sells to Californians — but California also exports an additional $44 billion USD worth of dairy products to other U.S. states — and good for California! Both the Golden Bear state and other U.S. states benefit from the excellent growing and production conditions in California.


Summary

The Canadian industry threatens no other country’s dairy industry as it’s sized for Canadian needs alone — therefore, one wonders why President Trump wants to flood the Canadian market with subsidized American milk and other dairy products.

And the reason Trump wants to export U.S. dairy products is because there’s a huge supply glut in the United States which means that dairy producers there must either downsize or find new markets.

If President Trump wants to export American milk, here’s some food for thought; The total annual demand for milk in China is more than the United States could produce in 10-yearsand 1.35 billion Chinese citizens pay an average of $7.00 USD per gallon of milk while 327 million Americans pay an average of $2.39 USD per gallon.

American milk producers could charge Chinese consumers $5.50 USD a gallon (and not require U.S. subsidies due to the higher retail price in China) and still sell every gallon they could ever hope to produce!

America’s leaders must stop focusing on microscopic markets like Canada where the market is already saturated with established Canadian producers and concentrate their efforts on the huge unfilled demand economies like China where they pay so much for milk that American subsidies could be discarded entirely and U.S. dairy products would still be cheaper than what Chinese consumers pay now.

Canada’s Pipeline Deal Completes as Court Rules Approval Process Flawed

by John Brian Shannon

Four things have happened in relatively quick succession in regards to the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project (TMX) that Kinder Morgan proposed back in 2013 and it’s important to understand those before proceeding.

  1. On November 29, 2016 Canadian regulators approved the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project.
  2. On May 29, 2018, the Canadian federal government acquired the Trans Mountain Pipeline from Kinder Morgan for $4.5 billion.
  3. On August 30, 2018 the Federal Court of Appeals reversed the original decision of the court to approve the TMX pipeline.
  4. On August 31, 2018, the purchase of the TMX pipeline by the Canadian government from Kinder Morgan finally completed.

If the federal government wants to be able to restart work on the pipeline expansion project and be well placed to sell it to investors, the federal government of Canada must now enter into negotiations with the stakeholders who weren’t consulted in the original consultation process and gain their acceptance to allow the TMX pipeline expansion project to continue.

NOTE: On August 31, 2018 Alberta premier Rachel Notley pulled her province out of the federal government’s national carbon tax plan to register her displeasure with the Federal Court of Appeals and to put more pressure on the Justin Trudeau government to get the TMX pipeline completed.


How to Address Legitimate Safety Concerns of Vancouver and Burnaby Residents

It’s a huge undertaking to sail an oil tanker through English Bay and into Vancouver Harbour under the Lions Gate Bridge and the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge, park it at Parkland Oil Refinery and fill that tanker with 250-thousand barrels of oil, tar sands ‘dilbit’ material, jet fuel, gasoline or naptha (all of them highly volatile or explosive liquids) and then sail out of Vancouver through a frenetic crowd of marine traffic including float planes landing and taking off every few minutes, ferries, pleasure boats, container ships and cruise ships.

Vancouver Harbour is far too congested for this dangerous practice to continue. There are almost half a million people living and working within a few miles of both sides of that very narrow waterway.

It may have been OK back in 1953 when the Trans Mountain Pipeline was originally built, but it’s definitely not OK now.

Oil spill could cost Vancouver $1.2 billion. Image courtesy of Global News.


A Solution Hiding in Plain Sight

What could solve these very serious issues, is to continue the TMX pipeline route on to Deltaport (a major industrial port south of Vancouver) and relocate the existing Parkland Oil Refinery in Burnaby, BC to Deltaport, BC. The existing site in Burnaby would need to be remediated as it’s unsuitable for housing or businesses due to the steep terrain and continuous rail traffic along the water’s edge.

The Delta Superport (Deltaport)

Parkland Refining Ltd., Burnaby, to Deltaport, BC

Parkland Refining Ltd. in Burnaby could be relocated to a much safer location at Deltaport to dramatically enhance safety for marine traffic and hundreds of thousands of people living and working in the Vancouver region. Image courtesy of Google.

The Deltaport facility in Delta, BC is already the site of a major rail terminus where thousands of rail cars offload 29 million of tonnes of coal every day for transport to ports around the Pacific Rim trading area and other large scale industries operate in Deltaport.

There are container ship facilities there and also some shipbuilding and ship repair businesses operate within the industrial zone. The Delta Superport site (Deltaport) was specifically chosen because it’s well away from major population centres in case of land or marine-based accident at the site.

Also, in the event of pipeline construction delays or oil spills along the Trans Mountain Pipeline corridor, railcars could haul Alberta’s oil and dilbit to the Delta Superport as they already travel from Alberta and Saskatchewan to Deltaport 365 days of the year.

For an extra $5 billion (for example) the federal government could continue the pipeline to Deltaport and assist Parkland Oil Refinery Ltd. to move their existing oil refinery to Deltaport, thereby neatly solving every safety issue.

If taxpayer revenue isn’t used to enhance the safety and security of hundreds of thousands of people, what is the point of collecting taxes in the first place? Surely Job Number One for any level of government is the safety of its citizens — especially when such large numbers of people could be adversely affected in the case of a major marine spill and/or fire in Vancouver Harbour.


Moving the Burnaby Oil Refinery to Deltaport Solves Every Safety Concern

Captains of oil tankers that leave port full of refined oil products (like gasoline, for one example) will be happy to find they won’t be ‘deking around’ a dizzying flow of float planes taking off and landing, small transit ferries packed full of commuters, pleasure boats, container ships and cruise ships — as they are forced to do when they arrive and leave through Vancouver Harbour and Burrard Inlet.

In fact, the only activity at Deltaport is the ten bulk carriers (coal) that leave port every day and (judging on personal observation, although not recently) the one container ship that leaves port every night.

As mentioned earlier in this blog post, way back in 1953 the Burnaby location was probably the best option for the region — but with the huge increase of marine traffic in Vancouver Harbour and English Bay since those days, it’s an accident waiting to happen.

If the federal government wants a solution that works for everyone this should be their Number One priority — and failing that — perhaps the proposal I’ve suggested should become a requirement for any potential purchaser of the TMX pipeline before their bid would be accepted.

It’s the responsible thing to do.

Solving Vancouver’s Forest Fire-related Air Quality Problem

by John Brian Shannon

City of Vancouver skyline transformed by the 2018 forest fire season.

The City of Vancouver skyline is transformed every forest fire season. File photo courtesy of CTV News-Vancouver.

Vancouver is suffering the worst bout of poor air quality in its 132-year history

Since the 2018 forest fire season began, smoke has been accumulating in the atmosphere and finding its way to lower elevations in the province of British Columbia.

The greatest concentration of BC residents live in the province’s Lower Mainland (also called the MVRD or Metro Vancouver Regional District) home to 2.8 million people and the average elevation of the region isn’t that much higher than sea level.

The mountains that surround the area keep the smoke from moving out of the region, which is why all that smoke is concentrating in the MVRD, instead of dispersing.

Visit the MVRD website to read the Continued Air Quality Advisory

Vancouver was ranked as the fifth-worst major city for air quality in the world on Wednesday. Global News.

Vancouver was ranked as the fifth-worst major city for air quality in the world on Wednesday. An air quality advisory from Environment Canada is still in effect for much of the province. Image courtesy of Global News.


How to Solve Air Quality Issues in Vancouver (and in every other city)

Every year, Vancouver is inundated with smoke from distant forest fires. It’s no surprise that Vancouverites are visited by a virtual wall of smoke every summer and it seems to be completely uncontrollable even with today’s modern fire-fighting methods. Therefore, the only variable that can work to improve air quality in the Vancouver region is to drastically limit the use of motor vehicles within the MVRD during the worst air quality days.

Several cities in the world have already adopted ‘Car-Free’ days in an attempt to mitigate their urban air pollution and it can work wonders for local air quality. Seoul, Paris, Copenhagen and other modern-thinking cities simply issue a ‘Car-Free’ notice and cars and trucks are banned from the cities roads until further notice.

In Paris, emergency vehicles still operate and people with medical emergencies may use their car to drive someone to the Hospital or to an Ambulance station — but they are speed-limited to 20 miles per hour — though with zero traffic in Paris on ‘Car-Free’ days it means you get to the Hospital much sooner than compared to normal traffic days. Also, the city’s transit system boost the number of buses to accommodate the extra ridership.


Parisians instructed to leave cars home during the city’s third official ‘Car-Free’ day


“Vehicles were forbidden from all of the city’s historic centre for the day on Sunday, making way for environmentally friendly modes of transport such as cycling.

The first journee sans voiture (day without cars) was held in September 2015 and was found to reduce exhaust emissions by 40 per cent. The idea has since been repeated twice.

But this time the zone has been expanded, covering 40 square miles over the historical centre of the French capital, and was in force between 11am and 6pm.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo was first elected in 2014 on a promise to tackle pollution in the city, which is estimated to kill 6,000 every year. She has begun building new bus and cycling lanes to reclaim the roads from cars.” — The Independent


‘Car-Free’ Days for Vancouver?

It’s long past the time for the Metro Vancouver Regional District to embrace the idea of ‘Car-Free’ days during peak air pollution events such as forest fires, weather inversions or other events that wreak havoc with air quality — and by doing so — lower ambient emission levels by 40% or more.

Screenshot of the most recent Air Quality Advisory in Effect for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley of British Columbia

Air Quality Advisory for Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, August 23, 2018

Air Quality Advisory for Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, August 23, 2018. For more information click the image.

If you care about air quality in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, call or write your elected officials to suggest they implement ‘Car-Free’ days during periods of poor air quality.

Such ‘Car-Free’ days have been found to lower air pollution by 40% or more in other cities, which can dramatically improve air quality and improve the personal health of everyone who lives in the region.