April 30, 2014 2:46 pm

Saskatchewan wins oilseed trade challenge against Quebec

Quebec announces it will launch an appeal after tribunal sides with Saskatchewan in oilseed trade dispute.

Denis Closon / Rex Features / STRREX

OTTAWA – Saskatchewan has won a battle against Quebec in an ongoing oilseed trade dispute.

Saskatchewan brought the dispute to a resolution panel established under the pan-Canadian Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) in January.

At issue – restrictions in Quebec that prevent the sale of certain margarines, coffee whiteners and dessert toppings.

Saskatchewan was supported by Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia in the dispute which centred on the percentage of canola oils allowed in those products.

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The Saskatchewan government believed Quebec was restricting trade in those products and was trying to protect its industry which accounts for more than 42 per cent of Canada’s dairy industry.

The AIT panel sided with Saskatchewan.

In a ruling released Wednesday, the panel said parts of Quebec’s Food Products Act violated trade commitments under AIT articles and ordered the offending sections to be brought into compliance by the end of the year.

Quebec has stated it will appeal the decision.

“We will vigourously advance Saskatchewan’s position in the appeal process,” said Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart.

“We’re confident the original ruling will prevail and that Quebec will adjust its rules as quickly as possible, allowing full access to its market for our producers.”

Saskatchewan was also supported by the Vegetable Oil Industry of Canada.

“Today’s ruling is a positive development, one we expect to be upheld on appeal,” said Sean McPhee, president of the organization.

“It seems like a small thing, but businesses in Canada should not be discriminated against by unfair trade rules.”

The appeal process could take up to seven months.

The AIT was set up to resolve trade disputes between provinces.

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