Canada's Sacred Dairy Cows

Dairy cow - Christine Muschi, Reuters.jpg

Most Canadians live in cities and suburbs. Their contact with dairy farmers doesn't extend much beyond the milk section of their local grocery store. So it may have come as something of a surprise that the cause célèbre of last weekend's Trump-Trudeau trade furor is the supply-management system that has long protected Canada's dairy producers—and made dairy farmers 60% more prosperous than the average Canadian in the process.

That last statistic comes from an excellent Guardian piece that every Canadian voter would do well to read—if only because we appear, collectively, to have elevated the protection of Canada's 11,280 dairy farms to a matter of high moral principle over which we are prepared not merely to rankle the U.S. president but perhaps to scuttle NAFTA.

Not surprisingly, the first post-Charlevoix lamb sacrificed in the cause of entrenching Canada's united front on dairy was Tory MP Maxime Bernier, demoted yesterday by Andrew Scheer for his outspoken opposition to supply management. Prime Minster Justin Trudeau averred recently that he is prepared to be "flexible" on the matter, but that was before Trump managed on Sunday to unite virtually all Canadians in a paroxysm of national outrage.

It is possible, in short, that Canada's dairy cows are more sacred than ever. If so, Canadian voters need to get up to speed on the issue, and quickly.