Level playing field needed

While many cross-border shoppers may cheer the increases in merchandise allowance that Canadians will be allowed to return with from the U.S., many towns and cities along the border are petitioning the Ministry of Finance to rescind his June 1 changes.
Currently, Canadian residents returning to Canada after 24 hours only are permitted $50 in merchandise. That will rise to $200 on June 1.
And residents who are away for 48 hours or more now will be permitted to return with $800, up from $400.
Retail businesses along the border are expected to take the biggest hit.
When I was in Toronto almost two weeks ago, my publisher friends in Cornwall, Welland, and Sarnia all were concerned about the impact those changes would have on the economy of their communities.
From Moncton, N.B. to White Rock, B.C., Chambers of Commerce and towns are anxious about the economic impact the federal changes will have on their communities.
It has left some business people steaming here in Rainy River District, although the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce has not taken a position on the changes in the federal budget.
In Niagara Falls, for instance, the Chamber organized a town hall meeting with retailers to discuss the impact on the potential surge in cross-border shopping. They predicted lost jobs and bankruptcies.
In Cornwall, both the Chamber of Commerce and the city have come out in opposition to the new rules.
Many shoppers are discovering that after-market prices on trailer and RV prices are 18 percent cheaper in the U.S. That is the duty that Canadian stores have to pay to bring those parts into Canada.
Cross-border shoppers are not charged those duty fees and only have had to pay the HST in Ontario.
The Retail Council of Canada wants the federal government to eliminate the import duties on finished goods entering the country, as well as to review the supply-management system that protects certain industries within the agricultural sector.
It stated that “these duties have outlived their original purpose, which was to protect Canadian manufacturing. These useless tariffs only help to propel more people who live close to the border to drop down to the U.S.”
Across our district, most Canadian businesses try to match U.S. prices.
The retail sector of every community is a critical component to the overall economic health of the district. In Canada, the retail sector is the largest employer of Canadians.
The only answer to make consumers and business people happy is to level the playing field by not charging duties on many of the goods coming into Canada. They reach the U.S. duty-free and when individuals import these products into Canada, they are not charged a duty.
However, a business importing those products from the U.S., Europe, or the Far East is faced with those duties, which must be added to the price of the goods in their store.
In Canada, we must make it easier for businesses to be successful. And must start by making competition equal between businesses in the U.S. and Canada.

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Level playing field needed

Dear editor:
In this fine country, countless animals are being gut shot, shot in the front quarters, hind quarters, and maybe many times on any parts of their bodies.
They are being dragged through swamps, rivers, mud—any terrain you can imagine. These carcasses are being hung in trees, and in uneven cooling temperatures.
They are hauled in back of half-ton pick-up trucks, on four-wheelers and trailers, up and down dusty roads to all kinds of butcher shops in this country. Health inspectors have to step over carcass upon carcass when they make their inspections of some of these facilities to see if these shops are abiding by rules to provide a safe meat product to consumers.
There seems to be no concern of how this wild game is handled.
I am not against hunting wild game. I have hunted since I was old enough to obtain my licence as a youth and have seen it all. But this is food for thought:
The farmers of Rainy River District have no sensible access to a government-inspected slaughter facility. There is a large effort being made to change this situation and get a facility built here, though the process is slow in coming and wrapped in a lot of red tape.
There are limited facilities in Dryden and Thunder Bay. But these places are not able to address Rainy River District’s slaughter needs.
You bounce your livestock up bumpy, curvy roads for too many hours to get to these facilities, which gets the animal all stressed out (the result is a tough, poor quality processed carcass). And then how do you legally get the carcasses back to your favourite butcher shop.
Do all, or any, farmers have refrigerated vehicles to haul these carcasses home from Dryden or Thunder Bay (which is what is legally required)? I think not!
A few years ago, rules were made from southern Ontario for all of us—that cattle and farm-produced animals must be slaughtered in a government-licensed slaughter facility with legal meat inspection.
Most everyone is agreeable with this rule, but there is a big unlevel playing field up here. There is no licensed slaughter facility up here in Rainy River District.
There are many in southern Ontario. Farmers actually have choices of facilities down there.
When this rule came out, many hard-working, community-minded farmers lobbied to have this new rule be graced here until such time that a slaughter facility could be built and running.
Area farmers then could still bring animals to the area butcher shops to be processed. This would be until we here in Rainy River District could be operating on a more level playing field with the rest of Ontario and Canada.
Doesn’t this sound sensible?
We thought that common sense prevailed here (instead of every farmer slaughtering and processing their animals at home under all kinds of processing styles and aging methods).
Most feel the local butcher shops are the best and safest method to deal with this situation. Common sense would tell anyone that this is the safest (if you think not, just go back and do research on the beginning part of my little letter).
We need a grace period on these new rules until we get a government-licensed facility up and running in our area.
“I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them” doesn’t cut it. Pass the buck somewhere else. We need people to be accountable where economies and livelihoods are at stake.
Governments who think they are really helping the farmers out are missing the boat here big time.
Now is the time to get off their hands and really pull out the stops to help. Not to pick on the food growers who are in a minority in this country. We don’t need to be kicked and kicked again when we are down.
“O Canada” probably produces the safest food in the world.
Signed,
Peter Spuzak
A cattleman of the
Rainy River District