There’s a phrase in the English language that I often use. When my colleagues have stated it to me, it often makes me feel appropriately guilty and sometimes it makes me feel appropriately foolish. The phrase is “it’s your own damn fault”. I use this phrase when business associates, friends and family complain about certain situations affecting life. The complaints can be personal, political, social, or financial but from an objective perspective it’s very easy to look at these complaints and assign the accountability phrase of “well, it’s your own damn fault”. I’ve often commented that I (or any other writer) could write a weekly column entitled “It’s your own damn fault”. There’s a never-ending supply of actions that could have that headline attached to it.
Now that Canada has received and accepted the invitation to the Trans Pacific Trade Talks, the likelihood of hearing that phrase (or some similar phrase) will increase. I don’t pretend to know the dairy industry or the chicken industry, but I am very familiar with the egg industry and EFO (Egg Farmers of Ontario). The Board and management of this organization have been taking actions that make supply management (and its secret operations) look like a very poor system for consumers. The Board’s actions don’t try to make the system more efficient, more transparent or even better at all – except of course for those folks who benefit monetarily from the system.
The actions being taken by EFO are an attempt to keep the system in place and keep the lucrative revenue stream to the producers and management of the Board. Those folks aren’t crazy – they’ve got a sweet thing going. Right now, all’s quiet on the egg industry lawsuit front but confidential mediation and/or backdoor negotiation is likely underway to keep all the details quiet. What happens if all that ‘protected’ data gets out to the media during these trade talks? Will all that attention give the government yet another reason to ‘alter’ the supply management system? At the end of the trade negotiations, if the tariffs are reduced or eliminated, if the supply management is changed in any way, it will be my voice, along with many, many others that can be heard saying to EFO, “It’s your own damn fault”. And the sad part is that preparing for the changes or making the system better prior to these trade talks could have and should have been done but the revenues were just too good to want to change the system. The system is just too comfortable and too protected. Welcome to the trade talks – and reality. Hope EFO is ready for the competition.