Agricultural groups in Quebec want coercive legislation for Canadian retailers to promote local products.

Quebec’s Union of Agriculture Producers (UPA) represents some 44,000 producers, and appealed to a government commission on Quebec agriculture for protections from foreign competition.

UPA chief Laurent Pellerin outlined producers’ recommendations: tighter controls over products offered in Quebec; forcing government institutions to source locally; ensuring local products are marketed more aggressively; and a regulatory and surveillance agency to guarantee space for Quebec products on store shelves.

“Free markets are a false ideal,” said one union leader,

A representative for Canada’s Council of Grocery Distributors dismissed most suggestions outright. Robert Cloutier said the proposals “favour producers over consumers”, while harming retailers with measures contrary to free competition.

Also suggested was a C$15m (US$14.5m) plan to develop new markets and get more Quebec produce in national private-label brands.