The New Staple State: Political Economy and Public Policy Regimes in Canada’s Primary Industries

Chapter XIV – Towards a Post-Staple State? – Tom Hutton (UBC)

Download 1.25 Mb.
Size1.25 Mb.
1   ...   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21

Chapter XIV – Towards a Post-Staple State? – Tom Hutton (UBC)


Thomas A. Hutton

Centre for Human Settlements

University of British Columbia

Vancouver V6T 1Z2


1 Source:; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (2001).

2 Trade flows have also been affected by the low Canadian dollar relative to the American, as well as by domestic public policies of the two countries. For example, the elimination of Canadian grain freight rate subsidies made the US market attractive for Canadian unprocessed grain and oilseed exports. Simultaneously, US grain export subsidies created a demand in the American market for Canadian grain by making it profitable for American producers to ship their grain overseas.

3 High value processed products are distinguished from processed intermediates (live animals, animal feeds) and bulk commodities (grains, oilseeds).

4 The government transfers to the railways were put in place in 1984 following the abolition of the statutory Crow’s Nest freight rates.

5 For example, the CFA President publicly chastised the Agriculture Minister in 2002 for proceeding with a plan to redesign farm income risk management programs despite farmers’ opposition. Doing so, he said, posed “a real danger that the relationship between governments and the industry will be jeopardized and will be undermined irreparably” (Friesen, 2002:14).

6 These data are available at:; and Average farm size varies depending upon the province, (grain) farms are larger on average in Saskatchewan. See also Bowlby and Trant 2002: 8.

7 Commercial farms have revenues over $100,000. Small and medium-sized farms, 35% of all farms, have revenues between $10,000 and $100,000. The remaining 34% of farms are hobby firms which account for 1% of production and are totally dependent on off-farm income.

8 The Alberta and Manitoba Wheat Pools merged and were subsequently purchased by United Grain Growers to become Agricore United, in which the multinational grain company, Archer Daniels Midland, has a major share.

9 These transfers brought the average farm family income up to that of non-farm families and resulted in an average net worth for farm households above that of non-farm households (Culver et al. 2001).

10 I gratefully acknowledge funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council during the period when most of the research for this chapter was gathered. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of my employer.

11 The scope of the BC fishfeed industry (and the contents of fish food) was recently highlighted when Washington State fish farmer found their supplies delayed at the border by the BSE incident, “Canadian BSE case causes fish feed holdups” May 22, 2003, (accessed May 23, 2003)

12 It is often claimed that there are at least 17 federal departments and agencies with a finger in the aquaculture pie. In fact, from a regulatory point of view in shellfish aquaculture, there are just three key departments, DFO, Environment Canada, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency,

13 Both sections contain provisions for habitat to be harmed or deleterious substances to be discharged by Regulation or by Ministerial Order (Fisheries Act RSC ss. 35 (2), 36(4),(5),(6)), creating the possibility for a classic “permitting” regime as has been proposed by the Commissioner for Aquaculture Development: “By providing clear and transparent standards, regulations under section 36 could give confidence to stakeholders that environmental interactions are managed. (OCAD,2002: 23).The continuing lack of transparency in enforcement is at issue in a private prosecution being brought by a prominent member of the anti-aquaculture coalition, Dr. Alexandra Morton, alleging DFO’s failure to enforce the relevant provisions of the Fisheries Act (

14 As a minor exception to this, small delivery systems carry small volumes of Canadian municipal water a few miles to adjacent American towns across the border. An example is the sale of water by the town of Coutts, Alberta, to the nearby community of Sweetgrass, Montana. See Scott, Olynyk and Renzetti (1986), p. 184. It is worth noting, in the context of the discussion below of delivered water prices, that the price charged for these exports (in 1982) was Cdn$0.42 per cubic meter.

15  Costs vary depending principally on the capacity of the tanker, the number of days consumed by the round trips, and the state of the oil tanker market. Moreover, these estimates cited do not include the cost of on- and off-loading facilities. For all of the foregoing estimates, see Feehan, pp. 13-15.

16  These figures compare reasonably well with other sources on water prices in the western United States. See Canadian Environmental Law Association (1993 p.99), which reported that, "prices paid for water in the Los Angeles area by various categories of water users in 1990 ranged from $362 to $857 per acre foot." For a more recent comparison, see NUS Consulting Group (2001), which records "national" (presumably average) prices (in $US/cubic meter) in selected countries, including 0.52 for the United States, 1.11 for the United Kingdom and 0.37 for Canada.

17 It is worth noting that, allowing for the broad-brush character of these estimates, the unit cost of delivery for this project over a fifty-year life-span has been calculated by the present author at US$0.68 per cubic meter (based on data provided by Judd).

18 The plausibility of this cost estimate may be measured against the cost projections in 1982 for a much more modest plan to transfer water from the Mississippi/Missouri drainage to the High Plains region from Texas to Nebraska, which the U.S Army Corps of Engineers estimated could run as high as US$0.64 per cubic meter (Scott, Olynyk and Renzetti 1986 p.177). Meanwhile, Judd also provided figures for the cost of agricultural water in the California market at the time at 5-to-10 times below the prevailing cost of urban water of only US$0.25-0.50 per cubic meter – in other words, pennies or fractions of pennies per cubic meter.

19  Scott, Olynyk and Renzetti (1986 p.179) similarly point to the manner in which regulatory and economic factors combined to undermine the viability of the Alaskan natural gas pipeline project aborted in the late 1970s: “This $40 billion project was half built when the U.S. importers belatedly discovered in the late 1970s that gas from contiguous states would be less expensive than Alaskan or Canadian supplies. This discovery has led to financing difficulties and project delays so that it is now uncertain when, or even if, the pipeline will be completed.”

20  Scott, Olynyk and Renzetti (1986 pp.205-24) contains a good overview of the cost-benefit calculations bearing on major water transmission systems, some of which touch on this conundrum. Elsewhere (pp.178-9) the authors makes the point that "the delivery of Canadian water...would be a very unattractive alternative to developing the political will to make better use of the water supplies already available in the south and southwestern United States." In other words, if water were priced at its market value, especially for agricultural uses, the United States would not have to worry about importing it.


 See McDougall 1991. The NAFTA provisions concerning energy regulation are further discussed below.

22 The obligation of the Government of Canada to extend an international minimum standard of treatment and expropriation to foreign investors is contained in Articles 1105 and 1110 of the NAFTA. In addition, NAFTA includes a “proportionality clause” (Article 315) which specifies that the government of a member country cannot reduce or restrict the export of a resource to another member country once the export flow has been established.


 Shrybman cites the possibility that foreign investors holding riparian rights or licences under federal or provincial permits and attempting to exercise them for purposes of bulk water exports "might assert a claim that any denial of the opportunity to do so represents "expropriation under the expansive terms of Article 1110. Alternatively, water use permits, which are silent with respect to the particular purpose for which the license was granted, might also give rise to claims under Chapter 11."


 See Table on “Alberta’s Exports”. Absolute numbers were rounded by the author.

25 I wish to acknowledge financial support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, under the project "Policy Innovation and Management on the Eastern Continental Shelf: the Politics of Offshore Petroleum Development in Nova Scotia and Louisiana."

26 Exceptions include the Canadian northern territories, where authority over mining has been devolving from the federal government to the territorial and First Nations governments and other areas of Canada where some comprehensive agreements have been settled with First Nations. (See chapter 12).

27 The NWT and NU became separate territories, as per the Nunavut Final Agreement, on April 1st, 1999.

28 Concerns associated with boards include that representatives are to serve as individuals, and as not representatives of appointment organizations, and boards serve an advisory, rather than decision making function.

30 Although a coalition of Northern Environmental NGOs (Canadian Arctic Resources Council, Ecology North and Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society) were offered funding to participate in the assessment they declined the resources as being inadequate. Funding was later provided to CPAWS, and the Status of Women Council of the Northwest Territories.

31 This situation is not only the case in forestry towns, but across Canada as well, especially in this phase of neoliberalism (see Gabriel 1999).

32 The idea of improving upon nature assumes a hierarchy between nature and culture, where culture is gendered male and considered superior to nature, which is associated with femaleness. For more in depth analyses of this kind of thinking, which has supported and naturalized many complex forms of inequality and domination, including among others the hierarchy of man to woman, and Western culture to cultures considered ‘uncivilized’ or ‘primitive’, see Plumwood 1992; Merchant 1989; Bordo 1993.

33 This paper draws on a more detailed analysis in Cashore, Auld, and Newsom (2004). Much of the research for this project came from a wide range of in person interviews in Europe and North America. For brevity, we limit direct citations to these research interviews. We are grateful to Steven Bernstein, whose collaborative work on a related project has greatly improved our analysis.

34 Originally the FSC created two-chambers – one with social and environmental interests that was given 70 percent of the voting weight, and an economic chamber with 30 percent of the votes. There are current three equal chambers among these groups with one third of the votes each. Each chamber is further divided equally between North and South.

35 BC members of the coalition included BC Pulp and Paper Association, Council of Forest Industries, Interior Lumber Manufacturers’ Association (Canadian Sustainable Forestry Certification Coalition 2000).

36 This group included, the Confederation of Canadian Unions, the Pulp, Paper and Woodworkers of Canada Union, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, the Canadian Environmental Law Association, Greenpeace Canada, and a number of others.

37 Personal interviews, senior officials, Haindl, Augsburg, Germany, May 4, 2001

38 Personal interview, official, Canadian High Commission, London, England, April 25, 2001.

39 Personal interview, senior official, British Broadcasting Corporation Magazine, London, England, July 3, 2001

40 Personal interviews, senior official, Forest Alliance of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, September 19, 2000 and senor official, British Columbia Council of Forest Industries, Vancouver, Canada, September 1, 2000

41 Personal interview, official from BC forest industry (see Appendix 2).

42 Of the top nine companies in BC, Weyerhaeuser/MacMillan Bloedel, Canfor, Doman (Western Forest Products) and International Forest Products all announced intentions to pursue FSC certification, while Weldwood and West Fraser supported through cash contributions and/or participation in FSC processes (Cashore, Auld and Newsom 2004: Chapter Three)

43 The principle now states that “Management activities in high conservation value forests shall maintain or enhance the attributes which define such forests. Decisions regarding high conservation value forests shall always be considered in the context of the precautionary approach,” [Forest Stewardship Council, 1999 #2052].

44 The opposing view was raised in a number of personal interviews with environmental group officials (see Appendix 2)

45 The other economic member of the steering committee was a small woodlot owner.

46 These groups included the New Brunswick Endangered Species Coalition, the Margaree Environmental Society, First Nations, the Falls Brook Centre, and the Sierra Club of Canada.

47 In addition to Irving, G.P.I. Atlantic and B.A. Fraser Lumber Ltd had expressed early interest in the FSC standards network.

48 FSC-Canada’s central office was still in its organizational stages during most of the initial Maritimes drafting process.

49 Membership included officials from the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association, the Falls Brook Centre, First Nations Forestry, G.P.I. Atlantic, B.A. Fraser Lumber Ltd., FSC CanadaJ.D. Irving, Margaree Environmental Society and the New Brunswick Endangered Species Coalition.

50 At this stage, the Canada Working Group required all future regional initiatives to create a four-house (economic, social, environment, and First Nations), and they also allowed the election of non-members to regional standards committees.

51 British placed heavy tariffs on Baltic and American timber in favour of Canadian timber (Marr and Paterson 1980).

Share with your friends:
1   ...   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21

The database is protected by copyright © 2019
send message

    Main page