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August 15, 2002

CANADA: Row over butter-coloured margarine intensifies

The Canadian provinces of Alberta and Manitoba have weighed in the trade dispute raging over Quebec’s refusal to lift a ban on butter-coloured margarine. Opposition to the ban has been spearheaded thus far by Ontario, but earlier this summer the oilseed industry asked the two western provinces, as well as neighbouring Saskatchewan, to intervene and offer their support to Ontario, reports the Globe and Mail.

The Canadian provinces of Alberta and Manitoba have weighed in the trade dispute raging over Quebec’s refusal to lift a ban on butter-coloured margarine.


Opposition to the ban has been spearheaded thus far by Ontario, but earlier this summer the oilseed industry asked the two western provinces, as well as neighbouring Saskatchewan, to intervene and offer their support to Ontario, reports the Globe and Mail.


Quebec’s refusal to allow anything other than white margarine is hurting producers of vegetable oil-based products, as well as canola growers, oilseed crushers and refiners. Natural-white margarine is reported to be harder to sell to consumers than the coloured variety that looks like butter.


The provinces are challenging Quebec’s regulation on the grounds that is constitutes a barrier to free trade and is protectionist. Talks have been rumbling on for more than four years, and in March Ontario decided to resort to the dispute settlement panel that is part of the Agreement on Internal Trade.


Quebec in 1994 agreed to lift the 15-year-old ban by September 1997, but backed down at the eleventh hour, succumbing to intense lobbying on the part of the powerful dairy industry.

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