Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Conference Board of Canada: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

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Conference Board of Canada: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing 

"One's basic nature eventually betrays itself..."

Although the 2nd Canadian Food Summit (April 9/1Toronto) hasn't even started, the controversy has. In fact, the Canadian food security & policy world may have it's biggest dust up ever if the Conference Board continues its tone deaf, stack the deck maneuvering. Rejecting an entire food movement is not a recipe for inclusion and consensus, but the Conference Board's myopia does have the elements required for a Food System Donnybrook.

The Conference Board of Canada's Board of Directors are almost exclusively corporate and the Food Strategy primer sent to potential collaborators is devoid of any reference to  Food Justice, Hunger, Household Food Security, Agrarian Reform, Food Liberty, Food Dignity, Food Sovereignty or the Right to Food  (Article 25 of the UHRD).
Last year's "Summit" resulted in this controversy. (Loblaw's is one to talk)

The following letter, by Professor Jennifer Sumner,  is a response to the Conference Board of Canada's "Canadian Food Strategy".  It accurately captures the sentiment of thousands of Canadians working to build a just and sustainable food system. Here it is in its entirety:


As many of you know, the Conference Board of Canada is preparing what it calls a Canadian Food Strategy and asking for participation in its preparation.  I was contacted in early December by the CBoC and asked to join a consultation in January, which I agreed to.  However, when I received the consultation primer (see attached), it was clear to me that the CBoC was not preparing a food strategy for all Canadians, but a food industry strategy that would benefit large players in the global market.

After carefully reading the primer, I sent the letter below, to which I received no reply. 

Jennifer Sumner


Drs. Michael R. Bloom and Charles Le Vallée
Centre for Food in Canada
The Conference Board of Canada

Dear Drs. Bloom and Le Vallée

I have received and carefully read the document you provided for the upcoming CBoC Canadian Food Strategy consultation. 

I originally agreed to attend the consultation because it seemed as if the CBoC was genuinely trying to address some of the serious issues associated with food in Canada: growing hunger, escalating food-related health problems, ongoing environmental destruction associated with conventional food production and increasing control of the global corporate food system.

Instead, your consultation primer indicates just the opposite: no mention of hunger, no connection between food-related health problems and the corporations who peddle the ‘edible food-like substances’ that cause these conditions, little recognition of the globally recognized suite of negative environmental consequences of conventional farming, and a call for increasing the scope and scale of the global corporate food system.  Indeed, the primer should be titled “Canadian Food Industry Strategy,” to honestly indicate to the public that this consultation process not only involves the promotion of the Canadian food industry (as is clear from your first pillar), but also constitutes a vehicle for the food industry to move into the other four pillars – areas that reflect “Canadians’ concerns and needs around safety, health, security and sustainability.” 

A true Canadian food strategy would be focused on, first and foremost, making sure everyone gets fed, much as the Canadian health-care strategy makes sure everyone gets healthcare.  In contrast, your strategy aims to promote the visibility and growth of the food industry and to treat Canadians’ concerns and needs as private profit opportunities, not public moral obligations.

In addition, your prescriptions represent a virulent form of neoliberal economics that has been acknowledged as responsible for the ongoing global economic crises and clearly only benefits about 1% of the population – in this case the owners, senior managers and shareholders of large multinational food corporations.  Instead of putting forward innovative alternatives to this discredited economic model, the Conference Board of Canada wants to

·         promote competition over co-operation
·         advocate free trade over fair trade
·         reduce or eliminate supply management (one of the only economic models that has made farmers successful)
·         increase the scale of production and exports (instead of considering small and medium sized, regionally-based production to ensure every Canadian is fed)
·         eliminate “unfair” regulations (unfair to whom?)
·         incorporate public and private industry standards (which consolidates private oversight of public issues such as food safety)
·         frame healthy food choices as new commodities (not behavioural changes such as eating more basic fruits and vegetables)
·         promote private, voluntary environmental standards (which do little, if anything, to ensure our environmental future is protected)

I am surprised that the Conference Board of Canada is asking the public to support its promotion of the food industry.  While corporate lobbying of government is a regrettable reality, masking such lobbying as a national food strategy and a “shared national vision for food that can promote collaboration and common purpose” is dishonest, self-serving and morally corrupt. 

Needless to say, I will only attend your “consultation” if it changes from a one-sided advocacy for a special-interest group to a dialogical endeavour to build a Canadian food strategy that focuses on the concerns and needs of all Canadians, not just the food industry. 


Jennifer Sumner, PhD
Director, Certificate Program in Adult Education for Sustainability
Adult Education and Community Development Program
OISE/University of Toronto

Sunday, July 8, 2012

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Friday, May 18, 2012

CFPC mediated meeting, 22May12 @7pm, Bennett Room, International Hotel

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CFPC mediated meeting, 22May12 @7pm, Bennett Room, International Hotel


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The United Nations has said that by 2030, the world will need at least 50 percent more food, 45 percent more energy and 30 percent more water. Absent these resources, it said, up to 3 billion people would probably be condemned into poverty.

(Reuters) - A group of U.S. seed, chemical and equipment companies will invest at least $150 million over the next few years into African agricultural projects and products, the companies said on Friday.
The investments pledged by DuPont (DD.N), Monsanto (MON.N), Cargill CARG.UL and others are part of an overall $3 billion effort by companies around the world announced by President Barack Obama.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Canadian Right to Food Trial verdict delayed until September

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Judge Skene has requested an extension on the verdict of the Canadian Right to Food Trial. The Judge is very thorough and there was a significant volume of case law presented which the Judge must review. The new verdict (written decision) date will be 21Sep12.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Canadian Right to Food Trial: 05-09March2012 in Calgary, Alberta

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The decision of the trial judge will impact 35 million Canadians.

The CR2FT originated with a bylaw infraction for the possession of urban chickens in Calgary, Alberta. It has since evolved and morphed into a complex legal argument involving such issues as :

A) The jurisdiction of a municipality to determine what we consume.

B) The default consumption model for citizens when personal production, cultivation, growing, raising & household food security is denied.

C) Sustainability of urban ag methods.

D) The Right to Food as guaranteed and protected by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, Article 25 and subsequent legislation, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966

E) The unconstitutionality of the City of Calgary bylaw based on The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982, S1, S2, S7 & S15 arguments. Substantial breach and violation of rights.

F) The hypocrisy of the City of Calgary's public policies, three of which have been ratified and approved by council.

G) Poor governance practices on the part of the City of Calgary which contravene the Alberta Municipal Government Act, MGA:M-26-3:

Municipal :
3) The purposes of a municipality are:
(a) to provide good government

H) International obligations and responsibilities, pursuant to the UNHRD & ICESSCC.

I) Appropriate remedy. This is presumably based on reasonableness.

As you can read, chicken has not been mentioned once in these 9 points. It is no longer an argument about chickens, per se. The CR2FT is a Right to Food issue now, with consequences that impact all Canadians.

22 countries now have a Right to Food enshrined in their constitution as a result of each nation embracing their international obligations, as set forth in the UNHRD.

It is Canada's turn to meet its international responsibilities and obligations, and to protect the charter rights of its citizens.

Canadian Right 2 Food Trial set for 05-09March2012 in Calgary, Alberta #yyc #yyccc #urbanag #ableg #cdnpoli #art25 #UN #food #agchat

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

"Within the contours of the three rights that it protects, Section 7 (of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms) has potential for advancing social justice. By this I mean, s. 7 has potential for providing an appropriate amount of protection to individuals from injurious state action, corresponding to their reality within a state - controlled regime or system." ~James Hendry

 ~Thank you, Julie Chen for the artwork

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Calgary Food Policy Council ideas finally implemented by New Food Committee

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The Calgary Food Policy Council has been a collective effort since its inception in the fall of 2008. Some 300 people have taken part in an event, meeting, garden or other initiative over the past 3+ years.

After 3 years of lobbying city hall, meetings with almost every alderman, notices of motion and numerous meetings with city employees in an effort to create awareness about the importance of a Land Inventory & Food Assessment (LIFA), a food assessment was finally launched today.

The Calgary Food Policy Council worked hard over the years to encourage the city to respond to, and accept, its imagineCalgary food targets and to embrace a global movement towards local, sustainable, urban food systems. It now seems those early pioneering efforts are finally paying off.

Make no mistake, almost every single item and innovation within the present City of Calgary food agenda was originally introduced by the Calgary Food Policy Council. The Calgary Food Policy Council hosted the 2009 Calgary Food Summit, the 1st ever gathering of Calgarians around the issue of Food Policy, an event instrumental in planting the seeds of the current food assessment process.

Calgary Food Policy Council founder, Paul Hughes, also met with Aldermen, urging council to adopt a city wide food policy for all Calgarians. This resulted in the 1st ever Notice of Motion on Food Policy in Calgary's history, back in December, 2009.

It was also Paul Hughes and the Calgary Food Policy Council which introduced the 1st ever motion to create a Land Inventory Food Assessment group, in February 2011, for the benefit of all Calgarians. That motion created the present day Calgary Food Committee and 1st ever Food Assessment.

The roots of a Calgary Food Policy were planted not just by the pioneers who were challenged by their access to food 150 years ago, but by the present day members of the Calgary Food Policy Council, who committed 100's of volunteer hours towards creating a superior understanding of the importance of a resilient, sustainable, local and vibrant food system that should, and hopefully will, benefit each and every Calgarian. Certainly, credit where credit is due is in order for all the hard work of the Calgary Food Policy Council.

We wish Carolyn Bowen, Evelyn Wooley and the Calgary Food Committee all the best with the future of local food in Calgary. As we all know, this is only the tip of the iceberg lettuce...