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MORGAN: Time for Nenshi, Iveson to end mask bylaws with the rest of Alberta

“If the cities maintain their mask bylaws beyond the July 1st provincial reopening, they will be unfairly be putting their businesses at a competitive disadvantage and prolonging the misery of their citizens.”

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On July 1st Albertans will be able to breathe a great, unmasked sigh of relief as the province lifts its pandemic restrictions. That is unless you live in one of the two major cities. In that case, citizens may still end up legally obligated to wear stifling face coverings while indoors until the end of July or even possibly the end of 2021. The mayors of both Edmonton and Calgary appear to be intransigent when it comes to lifting the mask bylaws in the cities in concert with the rest of the province. If Edmonton and Calgary maintain their mask bylaws beyond July 1st, their local businesses will pay the price.

Both Edmonton and Calgary are surrounded by bedroom communities that compete for the consumer dollars from the cities. Large retail complexes such as CrossIron Mills mall and Costco have set up locations just outside Calgary’s city limits in order to escape high city taxes and draw city customers. In maintaining mask mandates beyond July 1st, cities will be giving the businesses outside of their boundaries a huge competitive advantage. Business owners in communities such as Cochrane and Okotoks will be thrilled with this of course, but struggling urban business owners may be pushed over the edge. Alberta summers are notoriously short and to be at a competitive disadvantage for the entire month of July would be crippling.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi and his faction within Calgary’s city council have never been terribly sympathetic to the plight of businesses within the city. In 2019, Calgary’s small business owners were pushed to desperation due to massive city tax hikes. It spawned a rally outside of city hall that forced a reluctant city council to relent on business tax hikes for the short term. Calgary’s city council and administration are hopelessly tone-deaf to the needs of the business community.

The COVID-19 pandemic is in full retreat within Alberta right now by every measure. Alberta is in a much better position than Texas was in when that state dropped all restrictions. Doomsayers howled from the rooftops that Texas had opened too early and that disaster was inevitable. The disaster never came and Texans have been enjoying normal, free living for months. There is no rational reason for Alberta not to follow the lead of Texas now.

The motivation to maintain mask bylaws in Edmonton and Calgary is likely a political one, rather than a health or safety one. Mayor Nenshi and Mayor Iveson both have ideological differences with Premier Jason Kenney. Premier Kenney has put a lot of political capital into the long-delayed – on again, off again – reopening strategy. He has promised Albertans “the best summer ever”. While they certainly don’t want to see a reemergence of the pandemic, the mayors of Edmonton & Calgary would be content if Albertans had a miserable summer at Kenney’s expense. Keeping citizens masked in the stifling heat of summer would go a long way towards achieving that political end. Albertans are already less than enthralled with the UCP. Nenshi and Iveson would profit politically from keeping it that way.

Most people despise wearing masks. Aside from the discomfort in wearing them, they are a dehumanizing symbol of arbitrary state-imposed controls. The benefits of mask mandates are highly questionable at the best of times. With the rest of the province dropping the mask laws, it will be very difficult to convince city dwellers to carry on wearing masks. This puts businesses in a difficult position as we will see an increasing number of people defying the bylaws and entering businesses showing their faces. Employees do not want to be put into the position of being bylaw enforcers, yet that’s exactly what happens under city bylaws. A business can be fined if it appears that they have let people patronize them without forcing them to wear masks. Staff and owners don’t deserve to be put into this untenable position.

Pandemic control is outside of the jurisdiction of municipal governments. With the state of local emergency now having been lifted within Calgary, public health laws should be considered to be outside of municipal authority. Fines issued under the mask bylaw will assuredly be challenged in court and likely will be dismissed once the provincewide regulation is lifted. Do we really need to pressure our courts further on this point of principle?

I am looking forward to shopping without a mask. I can’t wait until I go to the washroom in a restaurant without going through the idiotic motions of masking up between my table and the door. It is going to be fantastic to be able to see people’s facial expressions again as we interact. I am willing to take my business outside of the city’s limits in order to enjoy all of these things and we can rest assured that many other Albertans feel the same way. While some people may not have the will or ability to leave the city in order to do business, many will choose to stay at home and get products delivered rather than deal with masked transactions. It’s a win for Amazon.com, but not for local businesses.

There is nothing to stop business owners from maintaining their own mask policies even after the bylaw is lifted. People who prefer to wear masks are more than welcome to carry on with them. Those who believe that it is unreasonably dangerous to open the world back up can stay locked within their homes if they choose. Businesses and people within Alberta’s major cities must be able to make the same choices as those in the rest of the province.

Calgary City Council is meeting this week in order to discuss options for their mask mandate. They have three options before them. They can repeal the bylaw on July 1st with the rest of the province, they can drag the bylaw out until the end of July, or they can let the bylaw go until its scheduled lifting at the end of 2021.

If the cities maintain their mask bylaws beyond the July 1st provincial reopening, they will be unfairly be putting their businesses at a competitive disadvantage and prolonging the misery of their citizens. City councils will be well served to end the bylaw on July 1st as they will be facing the electorate this fall.

Cory Morgan is the Alberta Political Columnist for the Western Standard and Host of the Cory Morgan Show

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Penny4YourThouhts

    June 24, 2021 at 2:28 pm

    There are multiple studies that state masks do absolutely NOTHING for respiratory viruses. Oddly enough, these were all done PRIOR to this planned-emic and are now difficult to find if you don’t know where to look.

    Nenshi and his merry band of fascist fools are all power-hungry proponents of Communist control. I am more than happy to drive out of Calgary to shop and yes, I do feel bad for business owners here in the city, but they have to start speaking up if they want things to change.

  2. @josh:unixhosting.cloud

    June 22, 2021 at 2:21 pm

    For anyone that is interested in joining a group of people from around the world about spreading the truth of Covid-19.

    With fall coming and the liberals internet censorship bill forcefully being pushed through its time to look at decentralized communication options.

    Matrix group:
    https://matrix.to/#/!pzaMoAGsFKbtOCmwPF:matrix.org?via=matrix.org&via=xpowx.mooo.com&via=midov.pl

  3. Ken Shackleton

    June 22, 2021 at 12:52 pm

    I do not see how any municipal bylaw can have any authority at all without the express permission of the province. If the province removes any requirement for a mask, that would nullify any municipal bylaw for same. Municipalities only have the powers that the province grants them…and I think that Kenney should make a clear statement that opening up and removing all restrictions will apply to all municipalities as well.

  4. Lisa

    June 22, 2021 at 9:09 am

    IF masks kept everyone safe, why do we repeatedly catch our leaders being photographed without them on? Because they KNOW they are unnecessary, and do not work! This was a sign of compliance. A way to prove they had the power, and we were obedient fear filled slaves! For those of us that know better, we MUST speak out and spread truth while we can, because our freedom to breath will be threatened again in the fall when the next “variant” i.e. flu season arrives.

  5. Kelly Carter

    June 21, 2021 at 10:32 pm

    Left coast, I don’t know where you found that study, but it is something I have been arguing for a year! Masks are great collectors of bacteria and fungi and other opportunistic pathogens. It seemed to me re-breathing these would put the wearer at increased risk of pneumonia’s and other lung issues. Probably a bad thing when there is a serious disease going around that affects the lungs. No one wanted to listen, and I can’t tell you had many people said I was a moron for sounding the alarm. Add to that there were some masks that were sluffing graphine particles (not exactly healthy for your lungs either). Masks should never have been mandatory. I am hoping someone thinks to do some analysis on COVID outcomes re masking. It has been my hypothesis that at the least masking did nothing to “slow the spread” and may have increased spreading and potentially increased the number of adverse health outcomes if you did get COVID. So far the “flattest” curve I have seen from North America was Florida. Hmmmm….. Also the most open with the least restrictions. More interestingly they had the same COVID outcomes as other states (better than Quebec and Ontario), and better outcomes in the higher age brackets. Says something about no restrictions and getting outside!

  6. Shanon

    June 21, 2021 at 8:35 pm

    Not with only 20% fully vaccinated in the entire Country, I’m not talking one dose either. I say if the Province can actually keep businesses open for a entire year without shutdown then they can talk about the masks coming off but until then everyone should be wearing one.

  7. Steven Ruthven

    June 21, 2021 at 7:33 pm

    Why did the City of Calgary open up then? If some of the City of Calgary Councilors are still afraid of COVID-19 then why didn’t they tie down Stampede until next year?

    Now these same people nip at the heals of people wanting our freedoms back. It’s their opinion their desire to protect you, their force of will to impose more on you. That’s bloody Socialism 101. These Councilors are not Doctors, but they are pretending they are. Pretending they care, but its about control more then saving lives at this point in time.

    Calgary, Alberta should be open for business 1 July 2021.

  8. Left Coast

    June 21, 2021 at 2:46 pm

    This is what our kids are wearing at school . . . where’s the Media ? ? ?

    The analysis detected the following 11 alarmingly dangerous pathogens on the masks:
    • Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumonia)
    • Mycobacterium tuberculosis (tuberculosis)
    • Neisseria meningitidis (meningitis, sepsis)
    • Acanthamoeba polyphaga (keratitis and granulomatous amebic encephalitis)
    • Acinetobacter baumanni (pneumonia, blood stream infections, meningitis, UTIs— resistant to antibiotics)
    • Escherichia coli (food poisoning)
    • Borrelia burgdorferi (causes Lyme disease)
    • Corynebacterium diphtheriae (diphtheria)
    • Legionella pneumophila (Legionnaires’ disease)
    • Staphylococcus pyogenes serotype M3 (severe infections—high morbidity rates)
    • Staphylococcus aureus (meningitis, sepsis)
    Half of the masks were contaminated with one or more strains of pneumonia-causing bacteria. One-third were contaminated with one or more strains of meningitis-causing bacteria. One-third were contaminated with dangerous, antibiotic-resistant bacterial pathogens. In addition, less dangerous pathogens were identified, including pathogens that can cause fever, ulcers, acne, yeast infections, strep throat, periodontal disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and more.
    The face masks studied were new or freshly-laundered before wearing and had been worn for 5 to 8 hours, most during in-person schooling by children aged 6 through 11. One was worn by an adult. A t-shirt worn by one of the children at school and unworn masks were tested as controls. No pathogens were found on the controls. Proteins found on the t-shirt, for example, are not pathogenic to humans and are commonly found in hair, skin, and soil.

  9. Amal Chaaban

    June 21, 2021 at 10:06 am

    “This puts businesses in a difficult position as we will see an increasing number of people defying the bylaws and entering businesses showing their faces. Employees do not want to be put into the position of being bylaw enforcers, yet that’s exactly what happens under city bylaws. A business can be fined if it appears that they have let people patronize them without forcing them to wear masks. Staff and owners don’t deserve to be put into this untenable position.”

    Exactly this. I wrote to my city councilor and repeated what I told him at the beginning of this mask mandate, it isn’t up to some minimum wage retail employee (who has no choice but to follow the rules) to police your bylaw. You want us to wear masks everywhere and you want it enforced? Best put a bylaw officer on every single street corner.

    Good luck getting anyone to wear a mask after July 1st. Hopefully Iveson can be outvoted on the council

  10. K

    June 21, 2021 at 8:41 am

    “…Aside from the discomfort in wearing them, they are a dehumanizing symbol of arbitrary state-imposed controls.” THIS. It’s never been about whether these are negatively impacting our health or not (they are), it’s always been about psychological conditioning into a slave state. Making your people do this in sweltering heat, when they are not sick, is psychotic.

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Pickup trucks are a plague on Canadian streets — Gee, did he get it wrong?

Nasty pickup-driving soccer moms rolling coal in mall parking lots are the ones killing the planet!
At least, that’s how Globe and Mail writer Marcus Gee sees it.

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Across Canada’s untamed urban frontier, when pickup truck drivers aren’t wrestling wild hogs, they’re on the road tailgating electric cars and cyclists for sport.

And the biggest polluters aren’t factories in China, India and elsewhere ceaselessly spewing smoke and chemicals into the air.

Nasty pickup-driving soccer moms rolling coal in mall parking lots are the ones killing the planet!
At least, that’s how Globe and Mail writer Marcus Gee sees it.

Thank goodness he ventured out of his urban bubble to set people straight on the devastating impact of the vile permeation of pickup trucks in North America.

Hopefully, Gee’s Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino, with a heaping topping of utter contempt, didn’t dribble down his elitist chin whilst he penned a recent snobbish attack on the character of pickup truck drivers.

It doesn’t take long for the initial surprise at the absurdity of his sanctimonious reasoning to turn into laughter.

Gee lamented that last spring – in the midst of a pandemic yet – Americans bought more pickup trucks than cars. And, if you can imagine, for years, Canadians have had the audacity to make Ford’s F-150 a best-selling vehicle.

“For heaven’s sake why? Most people no longer use pickups to haul bales of hay. They drive them to the mall to shop or the soccer field to drop off their kids. Why anyone thinks they need to do that is an abiding mystery,” anguished Gee.

“Once the vehicle of the cowboy, the contractor, and the good old boy, pickups have become the continent’s mainstream ride,” wrote Gee.

“A vehicle that started as a practical tool for hard-working people has become, for many, an obnoxious assertion of dominance and division,” wrote Gee.

What a clever ploy! Pretend you’re purchasing pickup trucks to haul things, make a living, or for safe driving in brutal weather conditions, when the real intent is to achieve dominance and create division.
Do pickup truck drivers hold super-secret meetings like the Illuminati or the Bilderberg Group to achieve this nefarious goal?

Gee referred to a survey – no, he didn’t identify it – that claimed three-quarters of pickup drivers use their trucks only once, or not at all, for hauling each year.

That would come as a shock to farmers, contractors, tradesmen, delivery companies, utility repairmen, movers, people who haul loads to the dump or the whole team’s gear to regular sports events, and a host of other pickup truck drivers.

“Buyers can drop $100,000 on luxury models, which most will spend more time polishing than loading,” he wrote.

“Even if they weren’t polluting and dangerous, the parade of pickups would be a blight on the roadscape and a finger in the eye of other drivers – a way of saying to everyone else: ‘I am bigger, badder and richer than you.”

No, Gee didn’t say what message is sent by purchasers of the $93,000 Audi e-tron Sportback or the $170,000 BMW i8 Roadster, or other expensive electric or hybrid vehicles he prefers.

Gee’s entitled to his opinion. But it evolved into a personal attack on people who drive vehicles he doesn’t like. He portrayed them as reckless bullies on the hunt for targets.

That’s inexcusable.

“In the charming practice known as rolling coal, some pickup drivers blow past cyclists and electric vehicles and deliberately spew black smoke at them,” claimed Gee.

Yup, those hordes of pickup truck drivers – even the soccer moms – spend their spare time modifying diesel engines so they can hunt down targets to spew sooty exhaust fumes on. Great fun!
Can anyone possibly be so detached from reality?

But Gee wasn’t finished flinging wild accusations: “Then there is safety. Anyone who has travelled a Canadian highway lately has been tailgated by a speeding pickup driver. Being up there in that big cab over the huge engine seems to make the drivers think they own the road; lesser vehicles be damned.”
Now that’s a fabricated, irrational fear, right up there with monsters hiding under the bed or in the closet.

And the good old boys Gee mocked still drive pickups. They’re everywhere. They’re the first to stop on the highway in frigid, stormy weather to pull vehicles that jackknifed and slid off the road out of the ditch, never expecting more than a thank you.

He’s right about farmers not using pickups to haul bales, particularly in Manitoba now. That’s because there are no bales to haul to feed the cattle they’re forced to sell because of drought and grasshoppers.
Meanwhile, many people, especially in Alberta, are using their pickup trucks to move their possessions out of the homes they’ve lost because clueless and destructive environmentalists successfully campaigned against the energy industry.

Gee was applauded by his colleague Gary Mason who tweeted: “This is a column I wish I’d written.”

These Uber boys are so sadly out of touch.

Most Canadians are fed up with condescending so-called elitists who look down on them believing they have the right to tell them how to live and what to buy.

Rev those engines, folks!

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard  lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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Opinion

WAGNER: Election of Maverick MPs would send a clear message of Western defiance

But what if – instead of business as usual – the Mavericks picked up a few Alberta seats?

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The May poll showing emerging support for the Maverick Party is good news for Alberta. The party is beginning to build its profile and may become competitive in some ridings. As time goes by, more and more Albertans will hear about the party and see it as a viable alternative worthy of their vote.

A federal election will likely occur this year (very soon, according to Brian Lilley in the Toronto Sun), and almost all of Alberta’s seats are currently safe havens for Conservative MPs. A result like 2019 where every seat except one goes Conservative will be met by a shrug in Ottawa. That’s just business as usual. 

But what if – instead of business as usual – the Mavericks picked up a few Alberta seats? A result like that would set off a firestorm. Nothing would catch the attention of people in Central Canada more abruptly than Albertans sending some so-called “separatist” MPs to Ottawa. Bloc Quebecois MPs don’t raise too many eyebrows down there. They are, after all, from Central Canada too, and share the same “progressive” values and anti-oil sentiment exhibited by most of the other parties. But sovereigntist MPs from Alberta? That would be something else altogether.

There are many good Conservative MPs from Alberta who undoubtedly do their best for their constituents. But right now, the West needs MPs who can speak out publicly without the fear of retribution by party leadership whose ambitions are always to please Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal – MPs, that is, whose only loyalty is to Alberta and the West.

From a Western regionalist perspective, a vote for the Conservatives is a vote for the status quo. Alberta needs something different now, something that offers a full-frontal challenge to Central Canada’s political elite. Electing politicians from the old-line parties just won’t do it. But electing Maverick candidates might.

The ridings most likely to show support for Maverick candidates are in rural Alberta. Ridings like Battle River—Crowfoot and Red Deer—Mountain View are unfamiliar to people in places like Toronto. But if those ridings sent Maverick MPs to Ottawa, people in Central Canada would suddenly hear about them, for all the right reasons. 

The large Wexit meetings that were held in the wake of the October 2019 federal election generated some attention down East. A prominent Toronto-based magazine, The Walrus, even produced a cover feature on Wexit with two major articles, The New Separatists and Meet the Albertans Who Want to Start Their Own Country. But as the Wexit meetings dissipated due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, and perhaps declining enthusiasm, Central Canada once again forgot about Western discontent.

Having a Maverick presence in the House of Commons would ensure Western concerns would not be forgotten or ignored. Maverick MPs would be a continual reminder that things are not okay and big changes are needed. 

It’s true that only a provincial government can hold a referendum on independence. Even with elected MPs, a federal party cannot initiate any measures that would lead to Western independence. As a result, some people question the necessity of a federal sovereigntist party. However, if a referendum on Alberta independence were held under the Clarity Act, the House of Commons would determine whether the referendum question on independence was “clear.” The presence of MPs whose only loyalty is to the West could be crucial in getting a fair judgment on that point. 

Maverick MPs would represent the West’s interests in other important matters as well, of course. We know that Quebecers believe there are advantages to sending committed sovereigntist MPs to Ottawa because they repeatedly elect candidates from the Bloc Quebecois. The West can do likewise.

If Alberta and Saskatchewan send full slates of Conservative MPs to Ottawa after the next election, no one will be surprised and Canadian politics would continue as usual. However, if Alberta – and perhaps the other Western provinces – send some Maverick MPs to Ottawa, that would convey an unmistakable message of defiance.

It would be a clear signal that the West has had enough.

Michael Wagner is a columnist for the Western Standard

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Help too little, too late for Manitoba farmers

Severe drought and a grasshopper invasion have left parched watering holes and destroyed crops and pastures, forcing producers to sell cattle they can’t feed at emergency auctions.

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A disaster relief program announced Thursday for drought-stricken Manitoba farmers is too little too late to save too many.

And the package, although welcomed, doesn’t address other critical problems.

Severe drought and a grasshopper invasion have left parched watering holes and destroyed crops and pastures, forcing producers to sell cattle they can’t feed at emergency auctions.

Farmers are exhausted from hauling water to thirsty animals and a prolonged fight for survival.

An exodus from the devastated industry is underway. Forage livestock commodity producers – beef, sheep, goats, buffalo and horses – are planning, in some cases, permanent exit strategies.

“This could be the end of the industry here. By the time most people are forced out, they’re not going to have enough money to go back into it,” Orval Procter, a beef producer and councillor for the R.M. of Woodlands, just north of Winnipeg, told the Western Standard.

“These announcements are wonderful but there needs to be strong dialogue provincially, federally, with all the commodity groups to figure out as best a path as we can to benefit everybody.

“This is a small drop in what we need. Not all of what we need is money. We need good planning and regulations or restrictions to add some control to the marketplace.”

Agriculture contributes $7 billion a year to Manitoba’s economy and $1 billion of that is attributed directly to livestock. 

The ripple effect of an exodus would devastate communities and businesses within them.

Manitoba’s suffering its fourth year of drought. Areas where cattle production is prevalent are hardest hit.

“Livestock producers are unique in that we’re struggling, and we have live animals that we’re dealing with. Grain producers who are struggling aren’t putting animals at risk,” said Procter.

Over the past two years with feed in short supply, farmers have had to sell one-third of their breeding stock.

But for 11 years, the resilience of economically crippled farmers and producers has been severely tested by a string of blows including BSE (mad cow disease), flooding, drought, economic recessions, and the impact of COVID-19.

“Because we’ve had so many issues, nobody has the financial resources, and nobody knows where we can get enough feed. It’s dire,” said Procter.

Through it all, they’ve mostly had to go it alone because there was “minimal recognition” by the government of the crushing economic damage to the industry, said Procter. 

He helped organize a July 21 rally to call for immediate federal and provincial government help. Nearly 100 producers showed up. Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development Minister Ralph Eichler didn’t attend for health reasons and didn’t send anyone from the agriculture department in his place.

Federal agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau visited drought-stricken areas Thursday and announced federal/provincial relief programs.

Through the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation’s Hay Disaster Benefit, insured livestock feed producers will get an extra $44 per tonne to offset replacement feed and transportation costs. Changes to the AgriInsurance program allow some crops damaged by drought to be sold as feed.

“What they’re really announcing is a top-up to the insurance programs to make sure there’s enough money to increase benefits to producers for hay shortages based on the extra cost. That price is typically set almost on a national scale, so when you get in situations like we have, where the price is triple what it was last year and they pay you out on last year’s costs, it doesn’t let you buy much,” said Procter.

He’s concerned about the cattle.

“There’s about 450,000 cows in Manitoba. Most producers are being affected by this,” said Procter.

“One of the biggest things that scares me, and nobody’s talking about it, there’s obviously going to be a huge influx of cattle into the market. Where are these cattle going to go? Are we going to have days with 5,000 head showing up an auction mart with three days selling? How many days before they’re moved? Who’s going to want them?” 

Every bit of hay that comes into the system is desperately needed. Eight bales saves one cow.

But pleas for more Crown land and wildlife management areas to be opened for haying and grazing, appear futile.

“The department has let land out, but they’ve not let all of it out. Areas still aren’t open and that’s to no one’s benefit,” said Procter.

“There’s no engagement. We asked for a contact to meet with, it’s been three weeks and we haven’t been given that. We got a roundabout response that it probably wasn’t going to happen.”

Meanwhile, skyrocketing feed costs and negative sales returns have resulted in producers receiving up to $400 less per animal than the cost of raising it.

“We haven’t even been in a break-even position for some time. We get 19% of the final cost, feed lots get 19%, and the rest is taken up by slaughter plants and retail,” said Procter.

“I’ve got receipts from 2002 – $1.87 a pound for a 400-500-pound steer was pretty common. I got the same price a month ago.” 

Producers are demanding a “government-driven investigation into the system that prices meat products, from the farmer’s gate to the consumer’s plate.”

The price producers receive isn’t reflected in what consumers pay for meat products.

“What’s hamburger worth? That’s your cheapest cut,” said Procter.

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard 
lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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