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The not so sweet truth about food politics – UM Today



August 18, 2021 — 

Identifying inequities in Canadian food policies is what Natalie Riediger undertakes. Research by this assistant professor in UM’s Department of Human Nutritional Sciences demonstrates how the distance between governments and the legislation they propose detrimentally affects marginalized communities, particularly First Nations in both urban and rural centres, such as those living on reserves and in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Because Riediger’s research examines the legal contexts surrounding a proposed tax on sugary drinks, she partnered with Myra Tait—an alumna of UM—now an assistant professor at the University of Athabasca and First Nations lawyer to understand the legalities behind its enactment. They question whether governments can legally enforce the tax, as under the Indian Act, they cannot tax on reserves. However, as Riediger mentioned in our interview, “the Indian Act plays a big role in taxation on reserves, but it is its own conversation.” Self-determination must be at the forefront of any discussion.

“The Indian Act plays a big role in taxation on reserves, but it is its own conversation. Self-determination must be at the forefront of any discussion.”

Instead, Riediger is focusing her attention on understanding the social, economic, and cultural contexts that may influence the acceptability and effectiveness of a proposed tax on sugary drinks, which the Government of Canada considered in 2016, though did not implement.

Although the World Health Organization and Diabetes Canada supported taxing sugar-sweetened beverages in hopes to influence healthier choices, as Riediger’s research explores, this policy may be harmful to marginalized communities. In working with Indigenous Peoples, she uses food inequities research to reveal the complicated nature of this proposal.

Natalie Riediger, assistant professor in UM’s Department of Human Nutritional Sciences.

As it turns out, it is much more complicated than simply making a healthier choice at the supermarket. Riediger says that initial inquiries that led to her current project with the National Indigenous Diabetes Association indicate the legal contexts that would follow its implementation are nuanced and complex, “something governments should consider if implementing this tax.”

The target population for her research includes Indigenous residents in urban and rural settings: Winnipeg, Manitoba focusing on the North End, a central urban hub for Indigenous Peoples, and Flin Flon, a border town between Northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan. As well, she includes residents in First Nations reserves across Manitoba.

Winnipeg, home to one of the largest populations of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, exposes the contexts of Riediger’s research. Before COVID-19 lockdowns, she and her team interviewed Indigenous adults in the urban and rural settings to obtain their perspectives and attitudes on taxing sugar-sweetened beverages. To ensure comparative data, she interviewed residents in River Heights, a predominately middle-class neighbourhood in Winnipeg.

A video thumbnail featuring Natalie Riediger.

Watch our video profile of Natalie Riediger

“We uncovered various nuances in which inequities could emerge,” says Riediger. “For instance, small business owners vocalized their concerns about the impacts of the tax due to provincial cross-border shopping. And, ultimately, we found that [soda] pop is very classed and folks who consume it are susceptible to judgement.”

Many participants from River Heights supported the tax, as they did not perceive it as negatively affecting them. One participant expressed that “pop isn’t even a food, so why shouldn’t it be taxed?”

Indigenous residents in the North End and Flin Flon were much more skeptical of its positive impacts and had substantial concerns regarding negative impacts among people who are food-insecure or lack access to clean drinking water. Residents became more trusting of the tax after they were asked what they would want the revenue to go towards.

“They were more comfortable with the idea when they felt they had a say in the matter,” indicated Riediger. “Once they knew how the tax would promote health in their communities.”

Thus, the inequities surrounding the sugar-sweetened beverages tax expose colonial narratives; to combat these inequities, community input, self-determination and trust are critical. Riediger and her team argue that any government, federal or provincial, should consider this context before implementing this potentially devastating tax.

Many research participants only realized the overarching complexities of the tax when they recognized familiar beverages, such as Frappuccino’s, sweetened coffee, diet drinks and juices, whose eligibility for taxation may be fraught. Riediger suggests that it is almost like prompting interview participants to ask, “Is my sugar okay?”

Her team is identifying intersecting issues within the research as they examine how, along with pop as a classed beverage, the actions of carrying it around in a shopping cart or purchasing it and giving it to a child can be stigmatized for Indigenous Peoples. There are multiple oppressions taking place simultaneously, which can be particularly detrimental for Indigenous mothers, who may experience judgment for giving pop or sugary drinks to their child, for their weight and their poverty. “Health is much more than pop and what we eat,” says Riediger.

Food security research tells us that the inability to purchase food increases stress, injuries and affects mental health. Riediger’s findings indicate that many Indigenous Peoples are not convinced that they will consume less pop if a tax is implemented, as pop is part of community gathering and socializing—although she says that “this ‘norm’ is changing.”

Food security research tells us that the inability to purchase food increases stress, injuries and affects mental health.

“This research is part of a global conversation that requires critical perspectives to ensure the inclusion of Indigenous voices during policy discussions,” shares Riediger. For her, conducting interviews and hearing the voices of Indigenous Peoples is fundamental to the research, as this project identifies the gaps in overarching policy initiatives.

She recognizes the power of listening to experiential knowledge and those directly impacted by the tax. “We need to give people time to pause, listen and really consider, or reconsider the tax,” comments Riediger.

“As a mixed-methods researcher, I recognize the importance of numbers, [but also] the social meanings of the community.”

The Nuances

Riediger’s research is essential as it identifies the complexities of taxing sugary drinks in colonial contexts.

“Capitalism can be traced back to sugar production, and intertwined with capitalism, is colonialism,” she says.

An example would be the use of stolen lands to produce corn for corn syrup. The Indian Act may further complicate the tax when discussing its implementation in Indigenous communities. Although, it remains clear that paternalistic attitudes are still controlling the discourse surrounding legislation that will affect marginalized populations.

An illustration of a soda can.

When interviewed, small business owners vocalized their concerns about the impacts of the tax due to provincial cross-border shopping and on lower income and working class Manitobans.

Many participants from River Heights supported the tax, as they did not perceive it as negatively affecting them.

Residents from River Heights were generally not of the opinion that the proposed tax will hurt many people, though there were concerns regarding potential lack of fairness.

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Meng Wangzhou believed to have left Canada after B.C. court drops extradition case –



A plane believed to be carrying Chinese tech executive Meng Wangzhou took off from the Vancouver airport on Friday, marking a new stage in a legal saga that ensnared Canada — and two of its citizens — in a dispute between the U.S. and Chinese governments.

A B.C. court decided on Friday that the extradition case against Meng would be dropped after the Huawei chief financial officer reached a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. government.

Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, the two Canadian citizens who were detained in China just days after Meng’s arrest in Vancouver, are now on their way back Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed on Friday evening.

Meng’s deal with U.S. prosecutors resolved the charges against the Huawei executive.

The agreement set in motion Meng’s departure from Canada after she had spent nearly three years under house arrest. The plane that departed Vancouver is an Air China charter destined for Shenzhen, the southern Chinese city where Huawei has its headquarters.

As part of her arrangement with U.S. prosecutors, Meng pleaded not guilty in a court Friday to multiple fraud charges.

The Huawei chief financial officer entered the plea during a virtual appearance in a New York courtroom. She was charged with bank fraud, wire fraud and conspiracies to commit bank and wire fraud more than two and a half years ago.

David Kessler, an attorney with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, told the court the deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) will last four years — from the time of her arrest on Dec. 1, 2018, to Dec. 1, 2022.

Kessler said that if Meng complies with her obligations, the U.S. will move to dismiss the charges against her at the end of the deferral period. If she doesn’t, she can still be prosecuted.

WATCH | Meng Wangzhou speaks following her B.C. court apperance

Huawei chief financial officer makes a statement after leaving the B.C. Supreme Court

5 hours ago

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou spoke to reporters outside a courthouse in Vancouver after extradition proceedings against her were dropped. Meng had earlier appeared by video in a U.S. court and pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. government. 3:32

The agreed statement of facts from Friday’s U.S. court appearance said that Meng told a global financial institution that a company operating in Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions was a “local partner” of Huawei when in fact it was a subsidiary of Huawei.

“In entering into the deferred prosecution agreement, Meng has taken responsibility for her principal role in perpetrating a scheme to defraud a global financial institution,” Acting U.S. Attorney Nicole Boeckmann said in a statement.

‘Sorry for the inconvenience caused,’ Meng says

Later Friday afternoon, B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes officially ended the Canadian proceedings, signing an order to discharge the U.S. extradition request and vacate Meng’s bail conditions.

She addressed Meng directly before ending a hearing that lasted less than 15 minutes.

“You have been cooperative and courteous throughout the proceedings and the court appreciates and thanks you for that,” Holmes said.

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou reads a statement outside the B.C. Supreme Court following the conclusion of her extradition hearing. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Outside the court, Meng read from prepared remarks while flanked by her legal team. She thanked Holmes for her “fairness” during the proceedings.

“I also appreciate the court for their professionalism and the Canadian government for upholding the rule of law,” Meng said.

“I’m also grateful to the Canadian people and media friends for your tolerance. Sorry for the inconvenience caused.”

‘Meng Wanzhou is free to leave Canada’

In a media statement issued this evening, the federal Department of Justice confirmed that “Meng Wanzhou is free to leave Canada.”

“Canada is a rule of law country,” says the statement. “Meng Wanzhou was afforded a fair process before the courts in accordance with Canadian law. This speaks to the independence of Canada’s judicial system.”

U.S. prosecutors also credited the Canadian justice system for its commitment to the legal process.

“We are enormously grateful to Canada’s Department of Justice for its dedicated work on this extradition and for its steadfast adherence to the rule of law,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark J. Lesko.

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Renzo to Head KCL's Centre for Politics, Philosophy and Law – Daily Nous



Massimo Renzo has been appointed as the new Yeoh Tiong Lay Chair and Director of the Yeoh Tiong Lay Centre for Politics, Philosophy and Law at King’s College London (KCL).

Professor Renzo, previously a professor of Politics, Law, and Philosophy at KCL and the acting director of the Yeoh Centre, was selected for the endowed chair and directorship following an open search to fill the position. He works in legal, moral and political philosophy, and has written on topics such as political authority, just war, humanitarian intervention, human rights, philosophy of criminal law, consent, and manipulation, among others. You can browse his writings here.

The Yeoh Centre was founded in 2014 with the aim of exploring “major issues in law and politics through the lens of philosophy.” Its previous director was John Tasioulas (Oxford). You can learn more about it here.

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Politics Briefing: Quebec introduces legislation to ban pandemic-related protests near hospitals, other facilities – The Globe and Mail




Quebec’s Premier says he is taking a cautious approach to proceeding with legislation to outlaw COVID-19-related protests within 50 metres of hospitals, vaccination sites and testing centres, among other facilities.

“It’s never easy to say you cannot go on the street,” Premier François Legault told a news conference on Thursday, responding to a media question about why he had decided to proceed now with Bill 105.

The legislation, with details on prospective fines, was tabled Thursday by the province’s Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault in response to recent anti-vaccine protests outside such facilities.

“It’s not something that you can do every day. You have to be careful. We want to make sure that people will not win, trying to say that the law is unacceptable, and we cannot enforce it,” said Mr. Legault.

“We wanted to do it correctly and I think that also we need to have the support of all the other parties, and I think that it’s the right time.”

Provisions of the bill will cease to have effect when the public health emergency declared in March, 2020, ends.

More details on the legislation here.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.


TRUDEAU FACES CABINET CHALLENGES – Justin Trudeau will have to contend with the defeat of three female cabinet ministers as he crafts his senior leadership team in what’s expected to be a quick return to governing. Two senior government officials told The Globe and Mail Mr. Trudeau will outline his government’s next steps once Elections Canada has finalized the seat counts, which could be as early as Thursday. Story here.

QUESTIONS RAISED ABOUT O’TOOLE LEADERSHIP – In the first public challenge to Erin O’Toole from within his own ranks, a member of the Conservative Party’s national council says the Tory Leader should face an accelerated leadership review for “betraying” members during the election campaign.

LIMITED DIVERSITY IN TORY CAUCUS – CBC has crunched the the numbers, and concluded that the vast majority of the MPs making up the new Conservative caucus — nearly 95 per cent — are white, even as the country’s racial makeup is diversifying. Before this election, 9 per cent of Tory MPs were BIPOC. Story here,

LPC CANDIDATE ACCUSED OF TAKING RIVAL PAMPHLET – A Calgary resident says he has doorbell security camera footage showing Liberal candidate George Chahal, the night before the election, approach his house in the Calgary Skyview riding and remove an opponent’s campaign flyer before replacing it with one of his own. He posted the footage to Facebook, which has now received thousands of views. Story here.

FORMER LPC CANDIDATE TO SERVE AS INDEPENDENT – Kevin Vuong, who won the Toronto riding of Spadina-Fort York as a Liberal candidate, said he will serve as an Independent MP, days after his party said he will not sit as a member of the caucus. Story here.

TWITTER BERNIER BAN – Twitter restricted People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier’s account, preventing him from posting any new messages for 12 hours after he used the platform to encourage his supporters to “play dirty” with journalists covering his campaign. From CBC. Story here.


KENNEY FENDS OFF LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE – Jason Kenney appears to have quelled another challenge from within his own caucus. A non-confidence vote against the Alberta Premier was withdrawn on Wednesday, but he committed to an earlier-than-planned leadership review, to be held well in advance of Alberta’s 2023 general election. Don Braid of The Calgary Herald writes here on how Mr. Kenney survived this fight against his leadership.

NEW CHARGES AGAINST FORMER SNC-LAVALIN EXECS – SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. and two of its former executives are facing new criminal charges related to a bridge contract in Montreal nearly 20 years ago, plunging the Canadian engineering giant into another legal maelstrom as it tries to rebuild its business after years of crisis. Story here.

FORD LOOKING FOR CHILDCARE DEAL – Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he wants to make a child-care deal with the federal government. The province has acknowledged it was in discussions with Ottawa about a potential agreement into the last hours before the federal election was called in August.


“Private meetings,” according to an advisory from the Prime Minister’s Office.


No schedules released for party leaders.


Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on whether this is the end of majority governments in Canada:But in Canada, for one reason or another, the grip of two-party politics has been broken – irrevocably, it seems. As a result, something else that is not supposed to happen under first past the post has been happening, with remarkable frequency: minority governments. This is not just the second straight federal election to produce a Parliament without a majority party: it is the fifth in the past seven, 11th in the past 22.”

Lawrence Martin (The Globe and Mail) on why, if any federal leader should be stepping down, it’s the likeable Jagmeet Singh: ‘Strange business, politics. While a bit short of a majority, Justin Trudeau wins a third successive election by a large margin in the seat count. Yet some critics say he should be put out to pasture. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh suffered a drubbing in the 2019 election, losing almost half his party’s seats. With much higher expectations, he did badly again in Monday’s vote, electing (pending mail-in vote counts) only one more member. Yet hardly anyone says a word.”

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on why the knives are out for Erin O’Toole, but not Jagmeet Singh: “Theoretically, Mr. O’Toole and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh should be in the same boat. Both failed to channel national frustration over a pandemic election call and turn it into material support; both delivered underwhelming results. But Mr. Singh, who led a campaign that saw the party claim 25 seats as of this writing – just one more than it held before – doesn’t appear to be in immediate jeopardy of losing his job. The saga of former NDP leader Tom Mulcair, who was turfed by his party when the NDP won 44 seats in 2015 (that is, about 75 per cent better than it did on Monday), offers an explanation for why.”

Jen Gerson (Maclean’s) on why Tories should not “do that stupid thing” they’re thinking of doing: “If you dump your affable, moderate, centrist leader at the first opportunity because he didn’t crack the 905 on his first try, and you replace him with someone who will chase Maxime Bernier’s vanishing social movement like a labradoodle running after the wheels of a mail truck, you will wind up confirming every extant fear and stereotype this crowd already holds about you and your party.”

Steve Paikin (TVO) on advice for Justin Trudeau, inspired by the political experiences of former Ontario premier Bill Davis: I think if Davis were still alive, he’d tell the current Prime Minister: “A lot of people are underestimating you right now. They think you’re damaged because you called this snap election, and it didn’t work out as you’d hoped. Well, I’ve been there. My advice, Prime Minister, is to reach out. Be more collegial and less ideological and adversarial. Establish a good working relationship with your opponents.”

Send along your political questions and we will look at getting answers to run in this newsletter. It’s not possible to answer each one personally. Questions and answers will be edited for length and clarity.

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop

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