Supply management in dairy (and eggs and poultry), has become one of the most divisive issues in the NAFTA negotiations, and in the overall relationship between Canada and the U.S.
The report that we published last year should be mandatory reading for all those interested in, and worried about, what the consequences are to Canada of the role that supply management is playing in this growing trade war.
Of the five main issues on the NAFTA negotiating table, four are non-starters for Canada: the proposed five-year sunset clause; the proposed nonsensical auto sector content rules; much more onerous "Buy American" requirements for government procurement; and the removal of key dispute settlement provisions. All of these are extremely important for Canada – and we are right to refuse to give in. However, the fifth, supply management, is not only something we CAN move on – it is overwhelmingly in Canada's best interest to finally move away from this ultra-protectionist and consumer-costly system that now only serves to enrich a relatively small number of already wealthy producers.
We should dismantle it, NOT because Trump wants it, but because it's the right thing to do for Canada. If in so doing we use that leverage to allow us headway on the other four key NAFTA issues, all the better.
And now it's major tariffs on steel, aluminum, and even greater threats to our auto sector. What are we sacrificing to please a small number of well-to-do producers?
Dismantling supply management is the right thing to do. It can be done fairly, with appropriate compensation and transition assistance, and we can still require a level playing field with the U.S. But it is also a moment in time when doing so could be doubly beneficial given the costs to so many other sectors of Canada's economy.
Please speak out.
Also, unlike the extraordinarily affluent dairy lobby, we at the Canada West Foundation are not paid for our work on this issue. We do it because we care about good, evidence-based public policy. But as a non-profit, we need help from members and patrons to support our overall policy work. Please visit www.cwf.ca to see the important issues we are tackling. And if you like what you see, please support us by becoming a member, or a patron of one of our policy centres – natural resources, human capital, and trade and investment. In addition to our report on supply management, I have linked our pledge form for this purpose. It explains the various categories of support – for important, non-partisan, evidence-based public policy.
If you have any questions about supply management, or about any of the other work we do, please do not hesitate to ask.
Thank you in advance, first and foremost for your engagement but also, I hope, your financial support.
Martha Hall Findlay
President and CEO, Canada West Foundation