(Dairy cows feed in a barn on a farm in Eastern Ontario on Wednesday, April 19, 2017.The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)


In any other context, a government-sanctioned cartel protected by exorbitant tariffs would be a checklist of things the Tories hate

by Tristin Hopper

December 27, 2018

As Canada is slowly dragged towards one of the worst trade wars we have ever known, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer spent part of his weekend reassuring Canadian dairy farmers that they had his support.

Spoke with the media in Saguenay today and reaffirmed the @CPC_HQ commitment to Canada’s supply management system and support for dairy farmers. (1/2)

Under Canada’s “supply management” system, Canada’s eggs and dairy producers are shielded from competition by exorbitant tariffs and state-sanctioned cartels. In other words, it’s an awkward policy for Scheer to support while simultaneously beating a drum about free trade.

Below, a short list of all the reasons why, if you feel like calling the Tories hypocrites, look no further than the nearest carton of milk.

It stifles consumer choice
Supply management works two ways. First, it permits dairy farmers to band together into cartels to artificially limit production and drive up the price (something that is illegal if done by any other industry). Then, to protect those high prices, the federal government slaps strict controls on imports of foreign-made dairy. As a result, Canadian specialty stores are constantly short of gouda, mascarpone and a galaxy of other dairy products. Do a search for the words “consumer choice” in the House of Commons, and you’ll find that the term is used most often by Tories. “Consumer choice should be the role of the market and not the role of government,” Saskatchewan Conservative MP Kelly Block said just last year during a speech opposing mandatory labelling of GMO food. “Our government’s policy will always be to encourage competition, increase consumer choice and minimize regulation,” said Christian Paradis, the then-Secretary of State for Agriculture, in a 2011 speech against usage-based internet billing. Naturally, Paradis wasn’t quite as libertarian when it came to milk.

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