With trade deal, Liberals again fail ru­ral Canada

The Delhi News-Record - - OPINION - JIM MER­RIAM jim­mer­riam@hot­mail.com

The fed­eral Liberals have had no end of dif­fi­cul­ties deal­ing with ru­ral Canada dur­ing the past sev­eral years.

The ill-con­ceived, poorly im­ple­mented long gun reg­istry showed that ru­ral folks will not vote for a party that ig­nores their best in­ter­ests in such a cav­a­lier way.

Things won’t get any bet­ter now the Grit gov­ern­ment has thrown dairy farm­ers un­der the bus to get a new North Amer­i­can trade deal.

The deal opens al­most four per cent of our dairy mar­ket to U.S. im­ports.

The fact it’s only four per cent pro­vides scant com­fort to those wor­ried about the fu­ture. It’s an­other nail in the cof­fin of sup­ply man­age­ment.

Pre­vi­ous trade agree­ments also have in­fringed on our dairy in­dus­try. A to­tal of 1.5 per cent do­mes­tic mar­ket ac­cess was given away in a trade deal with the Euro­pean Union, 3.25 per cent went in the Trans Pa­cific Part­ner­ship and now the big­gest chunk, 3.6 per cent in the new North Amer­i­can deal.

The gov­ern­ment is talking about com­pen­sa­tion for those farm­ers most af­fected by the deal.

That’s all well and good, but what does com­pen­sa­tion do to pro­tect our agri­cul­tural sec­tor go­ing for­ward?

New farm­ers who get into the dairy busi­ness — if any­body’s in­ter­ested in do­ing that — will see no ben­e­fit from such com­pen­sa­tion.

Sup­ply man­age­ment con­trols over­pro­duc­tion, such as the over-sup­ply U.S. pro­duc­ers are fac­ing, partly be­cause of sub­si­dies to the in­dus­try. The quota sys­tem also as­sures a mean­ing­ful bot­tom line for dairy farm­ers and gen­er­ally pro­vides a floor for the economies of ru­ral Canada.

Due to the pro­duc­tion con­trols, it also helps to guar­an­tee the qual­ity of the prod­uct con­sumers pur­chase.

When sup­ply man­age­ment dis­ap­pears — and ob­vi­ously this gov­ern­ment’s lack of back­bone in these trade talks il­lus­trates it could be co­erced into mak­ing it dis­ap­pear — our food sup­ply, farm economies and all of ru­ral Canada will take a big blow.

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump had a bee in his bon­net about sup­ply man­age­ment, par­tic­u­larly as it ap­plies to dairy.

So, what is go­ing to stop him from seek­ing more con­ces­sions down the road? He’s a bully and bul­lies don’t just give up and go away. If they get away with steal­ing your cookie to­day, they’ll take your en­tire lunch to­mor­row.

The new agree­ment is be­ing called the U.S., Mex­ico, Canada Agree­ment (USMCA), a name favoured by Trump, even though it doesn’t ex­actly roll off the tongue.

But the name is not im­por­tant. Af­ter all, a thorn by any other name would prick you just as bad.

Trump also had trou­ble with our ne­go­ti­at­ing team led by Chrys­tia Free­land, for­eign af­fairs min­is­ter.

Free­land does not ex­ude the kind of grav­i­tas the ne­go­ti­a­tions re­quired.

In ad­di­tion, Free­land doesn’t elicit the con­fi­dence Cana­di­ans would like to see when it comes to a sit­u­a­tion as del­i­cate as free trade.

But that’s be­side the point now. Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau’s cabi­net is not ex­actly burst­ing at the seams with con­fi­dence and grav­i­tas.

If the gov­ern­ment keeps mak­ing deals such as this one, the faces around the cabi­net ta­ble are likely to change in the 2019 election.

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