TORONTO, July 21 /CNW/ - Led by Alberta, the western provinces are formally challenging the Ontario government's ban of the sale of nutritious vegetable oil-based products, such as low-in-saturated fat, trans fat free vegetable oil/dairy spreads.
Under the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT), a dispute resolution panel will hear this matter in Toronto on July 22. The AIT now provides for monetary penalties in the event of non-compliance with dispute resolution panel rulings.
The Ontario government's ban restricts consumer choice and denies market access to products that would compete with high-in-saturated fat traditional dairy products. As a result, the ban denies opportunity to the vegetable oil industry, including western Canada canola growers, other oilseed growers, oilseed processors and consumer product makers across Canada.
This dispute was originally decided in favour of Alberta and British Columbia by an AIT panel in 2004, but the Ontario government chose to ignore the Panel's findings under the direction of the Ontario Agriculture Minister and the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission.
The Ontario government calculated it could simply repeal the AIT-offending legislation (Edible Oil Products Act) and replicate the ban of these vegetable oil-based products elsewhere, which it did under the Ontario Milk Act.
However, amendments to the dispute resolution proceedings under the AIT in 2009 now provide Alberta - supported by British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba as intervening parties - with the right to rechallenge Ontario and bring the province into compliance with its obligations under the AIT.
"Alberta is to be commended for its leadership in removing barriers to trade between provinces," said Sean McPhee, president of the Vegetable Oil Industry of Canada.
"Our country should be an open market from coast to coast and no province should discriminate against the products or services of any other province to protect its local interests against competition."
The Vegetable Oil Industry of Canada requested that the Government of Alberta take this action forward earlier this year to eliminate Ontario's continued restrictions.
VOIC (VEGETABLE OIL INDUSTRY OF CANADA) INC. - VOIC (INDUSTRIE DE L'HUILE VÉGÉTALE DU CANADA) INC. is a national not-for-profit industry group representing 52,000 oilseed growers across Canada, seed developers, oilseed processors and suppliers of fats and oils to the food industry, and makers of oilseed-based food products such as margarine, shortenings, cooking oil, salad dressing, mayonnaise and dessert toppings. Members include: Canadian Canola Growers Association, Pioneer Hi-Bred, Dow AgroSciences, the Canadian Oilseed Processors Association, Archer Daniels Midland Agri-Industries Ltd., Bunge Canada, Richardson Oilseed Limited, Loders Croklaan, GFA Brands Inc., Unilever Canada, Margarine Golden Gate-Michca Inc. and Grupo Sos ARI Canada (Bertolli Olive Oil).
SOURCE Vegetable Oil Industry of Canada
For further information: For further information: Sean McPhee, 416-214-1232