Last Wednesday night, I had the incredible opportunity to meet and converse with two dynamic, strong, intelligent women, Martha Hall Findlay (executive fellow at University of Calgary) and Karen McCrimmon (retired Lt. Col. Canadian Air Forces).
One of the issues raised (not by me) at the federal leadership gathering was regarding the supply management system currently in place governing Canada’s dairy, poultry and egg production.
I come from a B.C. border town, Rossland. My father was a farmer from Rocky Mountain House. I remember in the 1970s when the Trudeau Liberal government brought in this agricultural “protection” policy, as our farmers (in particular in the Fraser Valley) were struggling against extremely low American prices just south of the border in Washington State. I remember this because it was only a 15-minute drive from Rossland to Northport, Wash. and residents of our west-Kootenay area made the trip on a weekly basis, returning to Canada with full-sized Mercury Marquis car trunks filled with eggs, cheese and “real milk” (not bags). Our family made our purchases in Canada. That was 40 years ago.
The George Morris Centre for the Conference Board of Canada speaks of the dairy quota system as being the last of its kind, “stagnating production.” Conversely, Australia reformed its dairy policy with milk production “close to doubling.”
The world has changed and so should Canada’s policy. It makes good economic sense that would turn our Canadian dairy industry into a “globally competitive, exporting industry,” said Hall Findlay .
I was lucky in business and was able to choose to move to Kamloops. The community spirit demonstrated by citizens has been the reason I choose to stay. We live in a wonderful city that has demonstrated a social consciousness, especially with respect to social planning. While municipal staff, politicians and volunteers can plan for roofs over our heads, the federal government can help to resolve the issue of poor access to good, inexpensive, nutritious food.
Eggs, cheese, yogurt, milk can be the protein alternatives that make a difference sending a child to school with a good nutritious breakfast. Access to these dairy products is important in a child’s life.
Recently, Greek yogurt has become extremely popular, possibly due to the “Dr. Oz effect.”
This yogurt is priced at double that of larger containers, yet it has more protein that the other options. By removing Canada’s artificial price protections, we can help to reduce protein poverty.
Canada needs a strong voice, willing to take on this challenge. I am not alone in recognizing Hall Findlay as a strong advocate to combat poverty in our country. In June 2012, Andrew Coyne from the National Post wrote:
“The unwillingness until now of anyone, literally anyone, to speak out against such a clearly indefensible policy points to a deeply entrenched culture of falseness and opportunism. . . . If you cannot bring yourself to say it is wrong to make poor families pay three times the market price for milk to prop up a handful of wealthy farmers, you are not in the business of serious politics.”
This antiquated protectionist policy needs to be repealed. I encourage anyone who is interested to Google
“Canadian dairy supply management.”
Hall Findlay’s visit only served to remind me that I have had many blessings in my life and others are much less fortunate.
MARY ELLEN GRANT