Monday, January 13, 2014

Only in Quebec

Only Quebec bans blends of vegetable oils and butter and that ban is not legal, lawyers for the Canadian vegetable oils industry and three Prairie provinces argued at a panel hearing in Quebec City on Jan. 8.

The ban costs Alberta's canola producers $20 million a year in lost sales, Alberta's lawyer, Shawna Voger, told the panel which is considering a challenge under the Agreement on Internal Trade signed by all provinces.

Waving some blended products before the panel, she said “Canadian families everywhere are eating these and they are illegal in Quebec.”

Quebec's lawyer argued that the province has the right to protect its consumers who might be misled into believing the blends are dairy products.

He also argued that the French version of the agreement is more lenient than the English, but that got shot down when other lawyers noted the agreement was negotiated in English, then translated to French so any difference in meaning is only a flaw in translation.

The panel has yet to hand down a decision. The same vegetable-oil industry interests won a similar challenge against Ontario's regulations that restricted blends of butter and vegetable oils.