In a nutshell, here is what happened at the G7 summit: Justin Trudeau played nice with Donald Trump, Trump tore Trudeau apart on social media, Trudeau played nice again. While Trudeau showed very Canadian diplomacy, poise and resilience, the Canadian public seems to be taking another approach.
Everywhere on social media, Canadians are encouraging one another to go “Trump-free” — that is, to shop for groceries without buying a single American product.
Even restaurants are jumping on the bandwagon by serving “Trump-free” dishes. These are interesting reactions in the face of Washington’s somewhat contradictory foreign trade policies.
The “Buy Canadian” campaign targeting food products is nothing new. We have shown our solidarity in the grocery store before. Canadians tend to rally to support specific sectors when they’re faced with adversity.
In 2003, during the mad cow disease crisis in which the cattle industry took a $7 billion hit, Canadians showed their love for Canadian beef, so much so that Canada became the first country in the world to see its domestic demand for beef go up after its first native mad cow case.
That’s because consumers have busy lives, fixed habits and, most importantly, specific budgets. Once the media had moved onto the next crisis, most people had already forgotten there had ever been a mad cow crisis in the first place.But this support was short-lived compared to the crisis itself, which lasted for more than two years. In this case, retail sales for beef in Canada remained high for about the first nine months, and then decreased steadily afterwards.
Mad cow did lasting damage
Many Canadian farmers ended up losing their farms because of mad cow. But the public tends to react to things that are front of mind, and that affect them directly.
Trade disputes are notorious for their capacity to damage economies, affecting everyone involved. We trade for a reason. Some nations can produce certain goods at a lower price than others.
A nation’s competitive advantage can both develop its own economy and serve other economies in need of innovative products they can’t produce themselves for one reason or another.
With food, however, innovation is not nearly as big an issue as food security. Food systems operate with the premise of serving a budget-stretched consumer. Studies have shown we are bargain-hunters, whether we realize it or not.
Food is temporary, and as such, cannot really help consumers impress a certain social class, perceptually speaking. Unlike durable products, consumers cannot show off their new jam, strawberries or freshly purchased chicken.
This is the nature of “cupboard economics.” People can visit a beautiful home but never see what’s kept inside the cupboards. At the restaurant, though, it’s different. Here, the “Buy Canadian” campaign is more fitting.
Buy Canadian as Canada Day approaches?
Patriotism ranks second to price. This is the ideal time of year to use patriotism to justify some of our retail purchases. As Canada Day approaches, more consumers will feel the urge to buy Canadian, and why not?
But here again, consumers are fickle and will opt for the product that offers the best quality for the lowest price. In other words, they will most often choose the lowest-priced item, regardless of country of origin.
But here’s another reality while consumers are on their quest to find Canadian products. The highly integrated nature of the U.S. and Canadian economies plays out on our grocery store shelves.
Many American food products have at least one Canadian ingredient, and vice versa. Defining what a Canadian product is can be tricky.
It’s hard to go Trump-free with processed foods
In the produce section, for example, it’s easy to choose Canadian items over American ones, since fruits and vegetables are clearly labelled as to country-of-origin.
In short, if we want to be assured of buying Canadian, we should go out to eat Canadian more often, or buy fresh products in the grocery store.It’s much less obvious with processed goods. Finding a maple leaf on the package is only half the battle. Many ingredients in packaged foods come from elsewhere, since current regulations only require Canadian manufactured food products to undergo the last stage of processing in Canada.
Kudos to those for Canadians willing to do so. However, if our trade war with the U.S. escalates, not only will we not have a choice in buying Canadian, it will also cost us a lot more to feed ourselves.
New York’s legislature gives landlords a lesson in democracy
The knockout punch that the New York State Legislature just landed fighting landlords over spiraling rents ought to be attracting wider attention.
Just as with healthcare access or prescription drug prices, the cost of rent increases that mostly benefit big apartment owners is a challenge to the income-gap society that are at the heart of the national political debate. Every urban center in the country is having housing problems, and rents, like mortgages, are a subject at every kitchen table.
For once, the New York Legislature, whose Democrats overcame internecine divisions this session, has abolished rules that let building owners deregulate apartments, and closed loopholes that have permitted landlords to raise rents. And the changes for better tenant protection were made permanent, eliminating the recurring drama over these issues.
Trump’s EPA wants minimal limits on poison in drinking water
The Trump EPA calculated recommended limits of a dangerous chemical sometimes found in drinking water that can harm babies’ brain development that were more than 9 times higher than those imposed by a few states by fudging a key number in the calculation.
The Trump recommended a limit for perchlorate, which can harm infant brain development, of 56 micrograms per liter, far above the limit of 6 that California imposed and 2 that Massachusetts set, more than a decade ago.
MSNBC’s Mika scorches Trump over sex assault denials: ‘What type of woman would you rape?’
MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski revealed the horrific meaning behind President Donald Trump's defense against new rape claims.
Author and columnist E. Jean Carroll has accused the president of raping her more than 20 years ago after a chance meeting at a Manhattan department store, but Trump insists he couldn't have assaulted her because she's not his "type."
"We're talking about sexual assault, talking about actual rape and the president said that she's not his type," the "Morning Joe" co-host said. "So I guess the follow-up question is, since you have a type when it comes to rape, what's your type, Donald Trump, and is it any of the other women who claimed that you raped them?"