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SLOBODIAN: No need to panic about empty shelves

Proof of the supply chain’s resilience lies in its rapid response to the crisis in B.C. when days of heavy rain that caused flooding and mudslides ravaged the infrastructure, wiping out railways and highways.

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Ongoing supply chain woes, exacerbated by extreme flooding in B.C. that wiped out infrastructure, means consumers will have to do without goods they can easily live without.

It’s all about priorities and necessity.

Expect delays in delivery of products like next summer’s T-shirt lines from Asia or imported European wines.

But count on the supply chain industry to ensure a flow of essential goods and find ways to maneuver around obstacles it has been grappling with since COVID-19 rocked the global transportation system.

The downside is the cost of these goods moving from the Port of Vancouver will increase for Canadians already suffering a soaring 4.7% inflation rate. How much increased transportation costs will be reflected in prices remains to be seen.

But the shelves will be stocked.

“Don’t panic. We’ve got you covered,” said Pat Campbell, vice president Strategic Initiatives, with Supply Chain Canada.

Pat Campbell

Proof of the supply chain’s resilience lies in its rapid response to the crisis in B.C. when days of heavy rain that caused flooding and mudslides ravaged the infrastructure, and wiped out railways and highways.

Essential items — food, bottled water, cots — were delivered in due time to areas in crisis.

“In an emergency situation, getting bottled water to a community is absolutely critical. The Canadian military did an amazing job, and the government came to the need of these communities by sending in the military. But the military had to get the products. They flew them in by helicopter. But supply chain had to get the products to them,” said Campbell.

The flood on the heels of wildfires was another setback to supply chains still trying to overcome the hurdles presented by the COVID-19 pandemic that exposed the fragility of the global delivery system.

“So, there’s that bigger picture around supply chain’s resiliency to respond to post-pandemic issues. There are also separate issues in B.C., whether it’s the wildfires they experienced over the summer, or it’s the floods they’re experiencing now. Both of those events have had impacts on the capabilities of the supply chain to deliver products across the country.”

While flooding was still raging, the supply chain scrambled to find alternate routes to deliver goods to other Canadian destinations. Ships were diverted to Seattle to be unloaded with product coming in through the U.S.  or they were unloaded in Vancouver and the goods were shipped through northern routes.

“There are a number of issues that are happening around supply chain generally,” said Campbell, pointing to post-pandemic backlogs at ports and a shortage of both shipping containers and workers to unload them. 

“What supply chains learned during the pandemic was the need to be flexible and the need to be resilient. So that’s exactly what happened.”

Now it’s all about prioritizing what is unloaded from ships and distributed from the Port of Vancouver, a critical entry point for Canadian goods, to destinations throughout the country.

“If you think about the digital technology we have, a cargo container, we know exactly what’s in it. Ports are prioritizing the essential things that need to be unloaded from a ship first, and from which ship first.

“Wine’s going to be in short supply. So, if you want to buy wine from France or Italy, it’s probably stuck on one of those ships. It’s not going to be one of the priority items. Can we live with that? Yeah, probably.”

“Are we talking about T-shirts for next summer that are probably on a ship sitting in the Vancouver harbour because they’re going to go to warehouses and retailers so they’re ready for next summer’s market?

“Or are we talking about water and milk and groceries and gasoline. Canada’s a self-sustaining country, so can we pull those from other parts of the country? I think what we forget is the importance of the goods that we’re talking about.”

Campbell said reports of shortages of gasoline and goods on shelves were inaccurate.

“That’s not what the problem was. The problem was because we had just so recently come through the pandemic people were crisis shopping. They don’t know how long it was going to be until supplies come and they were scared. It’s kind of like the toilet paper scares we all heard in the beginning of COVID-19.”

Meanwhile, the supply chain still faces post-pandemic challenges.

There’s still a backlog in shipping due to the container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for six days in March.

As well, a shortage of containers contributes to increased shipping costs.

“We know that the cost of shipping container has gone from — and these are rough figures that change regularly — it used to cost $3,000 for a shipping container. It now costs $30,000. Let’s think about major retailers around the country importing goods from Asia. The retailer has to recover that money from somewhere somehow, so we’re going to pay,” said Campbell.

Factor in increased costs for alternate routes to move goods from the Port of Vancouver and consumers are looking at paying more for goods.

“Yes, it will be reflected in consumer prices. The impact of that, I don’t know how significant that will be.”

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

Linda Slobodian is the Manitoba Senior Columnist for the Western Standard. She has been an investigative columnist with the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun, Edmonton Sun, and Alberta Report. lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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Massive, loud support displayed as BC’s truckers roll east

The convoy is approaching Alberta and will spend the night in Calgary before departing east on January 24 in conjunction with Alberta’s truckers.

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The eastbound “freedom convoy” rolling towards Ottawa in protest of government mandates is well underway with hundreds coming out to support the truckers’ departure from BC’s Lower Mainland early Sunday morning.

The recent mandate — instituted by the federal Liberal government on January 15 — is forcing truckers crossing the border into Canada to provide proof of vaccination upon arrival using the ArriveCan app if they want to avoid testing and quarantine requirements.

American truckers will be denied entry.

Prior to the the January 15 mandate truckers were deemed an essential service.

Despite widespread concern of further economic devastation amid an already hurting supply chain, Liberal Health Minister Jean Yves-Duclos maintains his position that restricting cross-border movement of unvaccinated truckers is the “right thing to do.”

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) anticipates the loss of 12,000-16,000 (10-15%) cross-border commercial drivers as a result.

In border areas, drivers will often cross over five or six times a day.

“That’s a lot of loads in a year that no longer have a way of coming up,” Colin Valentim told the Western Standard.

Valentim — who has been a trucker for more than 20 years — spearheaded the group out of BC, which steadily grew in size throughout the day as truckers across the province joined the Ottawa-bound convoy.

The convoy is approaching Alberta and will spend the night in Calgary before departing east on January 24 in conjunction with Alberta’s truckers.

When the convoy arrives in Ottawa, it will rendezvous with four convoys from various points of Ontario, convoys from Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, other Atlantic areas, and Quebec — forming a mass coalescence of rolling steel within the nation’s capital.

“We need to show this government what they’re doing is wrong and we won’t take it anymore,” said Valentim.

While the national demonstration is organized by big-riggers, those involved say it represents other professions that have been effected by mandatory injections such as healthcare workers, municipal workers and more. All professions and vehicles are welcome in the convoy.

The official GoFundMe page has received more than 37,400 separate donations adding up to more than $2.8 million with donations steadily flowing in by the minute.

The fund’s page — organized by Tamara Lich — says money raised will be dispersed to truckers for the cost of the journey and “any leftover donations will be donated to a credible veteran’s organization which will be chosen by the donors.”

The page says GoFundMe will be sending donations directly to “our bulk fuel supplier.”

“Your hard-earned money is going straight to who it was meant for without having to flow through anyone else,” reads the page.

The Western Standard reached out to Lich for further details regarding the allocation of donor’s funds, but has not heard back.

“Time to stop these mandates destroying people’s lives and businesses,” writes one donor.

“This tyranny must stop, and I believe the truckers are uniquely positioned to make this point,” writes another.

Maps, routes, times, and contact information for the respective organizers can be found here.

Reid Small is a BC-based reporter for the Western Standard
rsmall@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/reidsmall

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Judge slashes large defamation award to only $50,000

The judge ruled prairie courts are much more modest in awarding liberal damages.

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A Manitoba judge has slashed the $500,000 awarded to a defamation victim to $50,000, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

The judge ruled prairie courts are much more modest in awarding liberal damages.

“Civil jury trials in Manitoba are rare,” wrote Justice William Burnett of the Manitoba Court of Appeal.

“Awards for defamation in that amount are virtually non-existent.”

“The jury’s award of $500,000 is wholly disproportionate and shockingly unreasonable,” wrote Burnett, who worked 32 years as a civil litigator.

“This was not a case of widespread or repeated publication of defamatory statements in print media, radio, television or on the Internet.”

Millionaire developer Marcel Chartier in 2021 won his defamation claim against a former business partner who badmouthed him at a lunch meeting. The court was told Chartier’s ex-partner had called him a thief.

“There was no further publication of the defamatory comments,” wrote Burnett.

The slander was uttered to two people over a lunch table, “a small audience by any measure,” and “the impact of the comments was negligible,” the court added.

“The jury’s award of $500,000 is replaced with an award of $50,000,” ordered the court, noting there “is no mathematical formula” to placing value on damages for defamation.

Burnett said he reviewed dozens of rulings in Western courts, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia over the past six years in concluding the half-million award was excessive.

“Having considered more than 50 recent decisions where damages were awarded for reputational harm it is readily apparent the present award is well beyond the maximum limit of a reasonable range,” wrote Burnett.

Large libel awards are uncommon in Canada. The Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench last December 15 ordered the CBC to pay $1,659,403 for defaming a local investment adviser in a 2012 television broadcast.

The case is under appeal.

The largest award to date, $3 million, was paid in 2008 to an Ottawa pilot falsely accused of impairment.

The Supreme Court in 1995 upheld a $1.6 million award to a Toronto Crown prosecutor defamed by the Church of Scientology.

In 2016, the British Columbia Supreme Court awarded $1.1 million in damages to a Vancouver businessman falsely accused of being a drug trafficker.

The Supreme Court in 2002 refused to hear an appeal from the CBC over a $950,000 award to an Ottawa physician falsely accused of improper conduct by the news program The Fifth Estate.

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Sask residents say vaccine choices dividing families

“It’s putting these parents in a really horrible situation,” said Ness. “It’s not selfishness. They truly believe to their core that it’s not the right decision for them. It’s not that they don’t want their children.”

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For personal and legal reasons, vaccine choices are dividing families, say two Saskatchewan residents.

Michael Jackson, a divorced father from the rural community of Carievale in southeastern Saskatchewan, was opposed to his seven-year-old daughter Sarah receiving the COVID-19 vaccination.

When his ex-wife said Sarah would get the vaccine, he refused to return her. Jackson’s ex-wife applied for a court order for police to retrieve Sarah and a judge heard the case in court.

Jackson lost his case and failed in a subsequent appeal. He went into hiding with his daughter before police could enforce the court order.

Two cases in Quebec suggest judges in other provinces take a similar view. Last fall, a 13-year-old boy wanted the vaccine so he could be in school sports and go to movies and restaurants, but his father was opposed. Then his wife, the mother of the boy, went to court and had the father’s objections overruled.

A similar ruling was made by a Lethbridge judge.

Nadine Ness, founder of Unified Grassroots, says a Lloydminster father who got their under-12 child vaccinated for COVID-19 showed her that proper checks aren’t always made. 

“He messaged me, ‘Look, I’m pro-vaccine. But I think you should know this,’” Ness recalled in an interview.

“He was never asked any documentation as to who he was, how connected he was to that child, nothing. He was just asked for the kids’ health card, and that was it, nothing else. So if that’s happening, then parents who have full decision authority over their children’s health, like the other parent can go and do whatever they want because they’re not asking for ID either. That was a story that I found really odd and concerning.

At other times, parents are at odds. Shortly before Christmas, a Quebec judge denied an unvaccinated father visitation rights to his double-vaccinated 12-year-old child. Ness said knows of instances where parents are using the threat of vaccinating children for COVID-19 as a bargaining chip to extract more from the parent who is opposed.

“I grew up in a divorced family with an absent mother. She was a drug addict, so I know what it’s like to grow without a parent there. And I know how important it is for both parents to be involved in children’s lives. I’m divorced myself, so I share custody of my kids,” Ness said.

“I could never imagine anyone trying to keep their kids away from the other parent, but it’s just you see that too often in custody issues…If you’re using your child to go after the other parent, you’re not doing what’s in your child’s best interest.”

Ness said former allowances for the unvaccinated to cross the U.S. border to see their non-adult children have been taken away.

“At this point, policies like that just show more that this is not about health. And this is about punishing the people who oppose government, punishing political opposition,” Ness said.

“Omicron is so mild. We had it all in our house and I was sick for a day and a half…It was the mildest cold I’ve ever had. My son was sick and had fever for six hours. That was it, nothing else. He’s seven. My 12-year-old never got symptoms, and my two-year-old had a bit of a runny nose.”

Ness believes COVID-19 is an inadequate reason for politicians, judges, and families to separate unvaccinated family members from their children or other relatives.

“It’s putting these parents in a really horrible situation…Some of these parents, it’s not selfishness. They truly believe to their core that it’s not the right decision for them. It’s not that they don’t want their children or don’t want to see their children,” Ness said.

“These are real people, real lives affected. They’re not just robots. It’s dehumanizing them and not recognizing them. These are children who go to bed at night crying because they don’t have their other parent there, their family member there. 

“They don’t deserve this; they deserve better from us. And we deserve better from our government as well.”

Lee Harding is a contributor to the Western Standard living in Saskatchewan.

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