The federal government has betrayed Canada’s dairy processors by allowing the United States to activate the new North American trade deal on July 1 — a month earlier than the industry was expecting, the Opposition leader in the Senate said Tuesday.
Sen. Don Plett warned the country’s 470 processing facilities, an industry that employs more than 24,000 people and contributes $18 billion annually to the Canadian economy, stand to lose upwards of $100 million if the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement takes effect as scheduled.
That’s because the dairy industry’s “quota year” for a number of key products begins in August, and many of the terms of the agreement are tied directly to the production calendar. Enacting the deal in July would mean that Year 1 — a 12-month period the industry was counting on to adjust to the new landscape — only lasts 31 days.
“We’re not talking small adjustments,” said Mathieu Frigon, president and CEO of the Dairy Processors Association of Canada.
“We’re talking adjustment to products, portfolios — the product mix of my members, so that means that requires often plants retooling, new products, you have to find a new market. Now we’re left to do all of this basically within 30 days.”
The new USMCA opens up to U.S. producers some 3.6 per cent of a Canadian dairy market that had previously been exclusively available to domestic producers — a change that some producers have predicted will carve a $240-million chunk off the industry’s bottom line.
It also requires the elimination of a pricing system that restricted American imports of certain products, including skim milk powder, milk protein isolates and infant formula, while at the same time restricting Canada’s ability to export those same products into the U.S. market.
Adding insult to injury, Frigon added, is that all of this comes at a time when both processors and dairy producers are already feeling the brunt of the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It has a multiplier effect, you know, in the current business environment.”
In exchange for agreeing to fast-track the government’s implementation bill last month, with COVID-19 bearing down on North America, Plett said Conservatives in the Senate received a “guarantee” from the governing Liberals that the USMCA, which is also known as CUSMA north of the border, would not go into effect before August.
But late last week, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer served notice to Canada, Mexico and Congress that all three parties to the deal had finished their necessary domestic housekeeping, starting a clock that makes the deal the law of the land on the first day of the third month after the final country provides notice that its internal processes are complete.
By giving its own notice on April 2, Canada gave the U.S. the power to decide when the agreement would take effect, Plett said.
“The government’s latest decision to move ahead with CUSMA on the backs of our dairy processors in the middle of a global pandemic is completely inexcusable,” he said in a statement.
“How can Canadians trust that the government is doing everything it can to protect and defend the Canadian economy when they are willing to give up on one of the founding industries in our country?”
Plett called the change in timing, particularly in the throes of the pandemic, a betrayal of the Canadian dairy industry. And he suggested that tensions between Ottawa and Donald Trump’s White House forced the government to make concessions.
“One has to wonder if the government was forced into this weakened position with our biggest trading partner as a result of the prime minister’s overall mismanagement of this crisis, and his strained relationship with the Trump administration.”
In a statement late Tuesday, the office of Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland defended the government’s handling of the agreement, reiterated a promise to compensate the dairy sector and denied Plett’s claim that the government ever promised a specific timeline for the deal taking effect.
“Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that we preserve and position our economy for the recovery — including our essential and privileged access to the U.S. market. We preserved and protected supply management in the face of U.S. demands to fully dismantle it,” said Katherine Cuplinskas, Freeland’s press secretary.
“Any assertion that there was a guaranteed entry-into-force date is incorrect; the agreement states it will enter into force on the first day of the third month after all three countries ratify it.”
Dan Ujczo, a lawyer who specializes in Canada-U.S. trade issues at the firm Dickinson Wright in Columbus, Ohio, pointed out that the federal government bought Canada an extra month of time by waiting until early April to serve notice to the U.S. and Mexico, making it impossible to meet Lighthizer’s own preferred timetable of June 1.
“I thought Canada actually played it masterfully by issuing its certification on April 2, because that addressed the issue of making sure it was July 1, not June 1 … and combated USTR concerns that Canada was dragging its feet,” Ujczo said.
“I think Canada had always kind of indicated that it was going to push this as far as it could, but I don’t think there was ever a direct commitment that Aug. 1 will be the date. I think it was more, ‘We’ll give it the old college try.”‘
While dairy producers are obviously a vital component of the industry, the processing side of the equation is often overlooked — and continues to be, Frigon said.
“As I always say, a viable, sustainable supply management system needs both a viable farming sector, and a processing sector. And we often forget about the latter part, and that’s really unfortunate.”
Strains from Europe and Eastern Canada account for most COVID-19 cases in B.C., genomic data shows – CBC.ca
Strains traced to Europe and Eastern Canada are by far the largest source of COVID-19 infections in B.C., according to new modelling presented by the provincial government Thursday.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry revealed the results of genomic tracing of different strains of the virus, showing that of those samples that have been sequenced, early cases linked to travel from China and Iran appear to have been well contained, leading to relatively few other infections.
But beginning in March, with an outbreak that began with the Pacific Dental Conference in Vancouver, infections with strains from Eastern Canada and Europe spiked dramatically.
“One of the people that we knew was positive and had attended that conference had previously been in Germany during his incubation period before he became ill,” Henry said.
Strains traced to Washington state have also been linked to a large number of cases, particularly in long-term care homes in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.
Henry explained that this kind of tracing is possible because the genome of the virus changes relatively quickly, but not as fast as diseases like influenza.
She also announced nine new confirmed cases of the virus on Thursday, for a total of 2,632 to date. No new deaths have been recorded, leaving B.C.’s total at 166.
The new cases announced Thursday include four people who have already recovered, people that Henry described as epidemiologically linked to previous patients who have tested positive.
This means these four people were close contacts of known cases and developed symptoms of COVID-19, but may not have had access to testing at the time.
There are currently 26 people in hospital, including six in intensive care. To date, 2,265 people have recovered from their illnesses, and there are now 201 active cases across the province.
Meanwhile, there has been a new community outbreak at the Beresford Warming Centre in Burnaby, where three people have tested positive for the virus.
Richmond has lowest caseload in Lower Mainland
For the first time, Henry also provided more detailed geographic data about COVID-19 cases in B.C., breaking them down by the 16 health service delivery areas.
The numbers show that in the Lower Mainland, Richmond has had the lowest percentage of cases, with just 444 per million residents, compared to 832 in Vancouver, 911 on the North Shore, and 1,241 cases per million in the area from Abbotsford to Hope in Fraser Health.
The numbers also show that Richmond had no new COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks of May, the only part of the Lower Mainland where that was the case.
As well, 83 per cent of B.C.’s new cases in the last two weeks of May were in just two health delivery areas — Fraser East and Fraser South.
In the rest of the province, the only sub-region with a significantly higher percentage of COVID-19 cases was north Vancouver Island (comprising areas north of Qualicum Beach), with 483 cases per million residents compared to 92 cases in central Vancouver Island and 112 cases in south Vancouver Island.
Men account for more deaths and hospitalizations
The figures presented by Henry also show a trend that has been noted in most other parts of the world.
While slightly more women and girls have tested positive for COVID-19 in B.C., men and boys have been much more likely to have serious cases of the disease.
About two-thirds of COVID-19 patients who have been hospitalized were male — a proportion similar to those in intensive care and those who have died.
“We’ve talked about the biological reasons why this might be, but we do not have all the answers yet,” Henry said.
Meanwhile, people over the age of 70 are much more likely to die from the virus, even though people between the ages of 30 and 60 account for the majority of infections.
Other data presented Thursday suggest that since businesses and services began reopening on May 19, British Columbians have managed to keep their social contacts to between 30 and 40 per cent of what they were before the pandemic.
“That’s what we want to see,” Henry said.
She also said that modelling suggests that the partial reopening of schools that began on June 1 should have minimal impact on the spread of the virus, as long as adults maintain social distancing and those who are ill commit to self-isolating.
B.C. is now testing between 1,500 and 2,000 people for COVID-19 every day, and the percentage of those tests coming back positive has fallen in recent weeks. Anyone with symptoms can now get tested, and Henry said the province has the capacity to ramp up the testing rate if necessary.
If the curve of infection remains relatively flat, Henry said, she is hopeful that travel within B.C. will be safe by late June or early July.
If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at email@example.com.
Coronavirus cases in Canada continue steady decline, death toll increases by 139 – Global News
New novel coronavirus cases in Canada have been dropping for the past several days, with Ontario and Quebec continuing to account for the vast majority of new cases and deaths.
Canada saw 637 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported on Thursday, slightly lower than 705 a day earlier and 994 a week earlier, bringing the country’s caseload to more than 93,500 cases.
The national death toll rose by 139 deaths, for a total of more than 7,600.
New modelling data revealed Thursday that Canada could see up to 9,400 deaths by mid-June.
Quebec remains the hardest hit province, with 55 per cent of the country’s cases and more than 60 per cent of Canada’s fatalities. The province reported 259 new cases and 91 deaths on Thursday — a drop from last week’s numbers, which hovered in the 500 range.
More than 52,000 cases have been reported overall, with over 17,000 recoveries. Nearly 4,900 people have died.
Ontario reported 356 new cases and 45 new deaths, bringing its figures to nearly 29,500 cases and more than 2,300 deaths.
British Columbia saw no new deaths on Thursday and five new cases, as well as four “epidemiologically-linked” cases — people who are symptomatic or have had close contact with a COVID-19 case, but haven’t been tested.
Global News has only included the five lab-confirmed cases in its official tally.
Coronavirus: Team sports to gradually resume in Quebec
B.C. has seen more than 2,600 cases and 166 deaths, along with more than 2,200 recoveries. The number of people in hospital in the province has hit an 11-week low.
Alberta reported 15 new cases and one new death Thursday. More than 7,000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 146 people have died. More than 6,600 people are considered recovered so far.
Saskatchewan reported just one new case and saw its active COVID-19 cases drop below five per cent. The province has seen nearly 650 cases so far, including more than 600 recoveries and 11 deaths.
New Brunswick reported one new case as well as its first COVID-19-related death on Thursday.
Coronavirus: Toronto starts preparations for the return of patios
The province’s first death related to the coronavirus is linked to the ongoing outbreak in the Campbellton region — a cluster that has been traced back to a doctor who contracted the virus in Quebec and did not self-isolate upon his return.
The man who died was an 84-year-old resident of a long-term care home in Atholville, N.B.
Nova Scotia reported one new death, bringing its tally to 1,058 cases and 61 deaths, as its active case total continued to go down. The majority of its death toll is linked to one long-term care home in Halifax.
No new cases
Three provinces didn’t report any new cases or deaths on Thursday, while two territories that have seen all their COVID-19 cases resolved have not seen any new ones. Nunavut is the only region in Canada that has not reported a positive case.
Manitoba says it has seven active cases, out of a total of 287 lab-confirmed cases. That number includes seven deaths so far. The province says it has no COVID-19 hospitalizations at the moment.
Newfoundland and Labrador is left with two active cases out of 261 total cases, including three deaths.
Globally, the virus has caused more than 1.8 million cases and close to 389,000 deaths, according to data tracked by Johns Hopkins University.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
State Department says U.S. will reassess intelligence-sharing with Canada if it lets Huawei into 5G – CBC.ca
The United States is prepared to reassess its intelligence-sharing arrangement with Canada if Huawei is given the green light to take part in building Canada’s 5G networks, a State Department spokesperson said today.
The federal government still has not announced its decision on whether the Chinese telecom giant will be allowed to participate in building Canada’s next-generation wireless networks, despite more than a year and a half of assessing the question.
“We in the U.S. government have made it very clear to all of our friends and allies around the world that if Huawei is allowed into a country’s national security systems, we will have to protect our intelligence-sharing relationship,” Morgan Ortagus, spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, told CBC News today.
“We’ll have to make an assessment if we can continue sharing intelligence with countries who have Huawei inside their most sensitive technology, in their most sensitive national security areas.
“We think that the Canadian government will make their own sovereign decisions and what’s best for Canada’s national security.”
Watch: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Huawei and 5G
The prime minister didn’t say today when Canadians can expect a decision on Huawei and 5G, or whether he’s willing to risk injuring the relationship with Canada’s closest ally by allowing the Chinese telecom giant to participate in the networks.
“Every step of the way, we have listened to our security agencies, our intelligence agencies, worked with our allies,” Trudeau said in response to a reporter’s question today. “We will make the right decision for Canadians to both keep Canadians and businesses safe while at the same time ensuring competitiveness in our telecom industry.”
Some private companies aren’t waiting for Ottawa to make a decision. Bell and Telus announced yesterday that they would not be working with Huawei as they pursue their 5G plans. Instead, both are opting to use equipment from European companies Ericsson and Nokia.
Washington has long argued that Huawei poses a national security threat because the Chinese government has the power to compel private companies like Huawei to hand over sensitive information. Huawei’s critics say they fear the company would conduct espionage on behalf of Beijing.
U.S. tries to clip Huawei’s wings
Contacted by CBC News, Huawei’s VP for corporate affairs in Canada said State’s “threats” are consistent with “the Trump administration’s preference for bullying and coercing rivals and allies alike. “
“Huawei has operated in Canada for more than a decade without a single security incident related to our equipment. Not one,” said Alykhan Velshi. “We look forward to the Government of Canada making an evidence-based decision on Huawei’s role in Canada’s 5G rollout.
“This decision should be made by, in, and for Canada, not Donald Trump’s Washington.”
In recent weeks, while much of the world has been focused on the pandemic’s rising death toll, Washington has announced new measures aimed at curbing Huawei’s global influence.
On May 15, the U.S. Department of Commerce changed its export control rules to restrict “… Huawei’s ability to use U.S. technology and software to design and manufacture its semiconductors abroad.”
The move is meant to make it harder for Huawei to obtain the supplies it needs, to significantly raise its operating costs and to force the company to rely on goods that may be less reliable and more vulnerable.
As a middle power, Canada often has found itself taking collateral diplomatic damage from tensions between U.S. and China, as both superpowers fight to become the global leader in technology.
That damage started ramping up in December of 2018, when Canada arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition request.
Beijing immediately demanded her release and executed swift retaliatory actions. Two Canadians — Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — were arbitrarily detained in China; they’ve been held for more than 500 days. Beijing took trade action as well, halting large purchases of Canadian canola and, for a time, Canadian pork.
Ortagus condemned China’s imprisonment of the two Canadians. She said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has brought this issue up regularly during high-profile meetings with his Chinese counterparts.
“The United States, we’re taking a lot of actions, doing everything we can behind the scenes with the Canadian government,” she said.
Asked if the United States might deploy sanctions to pressure China to release the two men, Ortagus said “we’re not going to preview any public actions that we may take.”
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