West Claims Veg Oil Trade Victory

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STAFF – Canada’s four western provinces say they’ve won a renewed interprovincial trade challenge against Ontario’s limits on products blending vegetable oils with dairy.

The challenge, launched in March and spearheaded by the Alberta government, is the first to be heard under a new Chapter 17 dispute resolution process for Canadian provinces’ Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT).

The new process has been seen as giving sharper teeth to the enforcement and compliance of AIT panel rulings.

An AIT summary panel has given Ontario until Feb. 1, 2011 to comply by ensuring that its policies are consistent with the AIT, the Alberta government said in a release.

If Ontario remains in breach, Alberta officials said, it could now face a cash penalty of up to $5 million.

Alberta and the supporting provinces had formally asked for the establishment of a summary panel to rule on whether regulations in Ontario’s Milk Act, and its restrictions on the sale of certain vegetable oil-blended dairy products, violated AIT.

Vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower and soy are often used to create blends of margarine and butter, as well as blended drinks such as soymilk.

The decision upholds a 2004 AIT panel’s decision in favour of Alberta and B.C., with Manitoba and Saskatchewan as interveners.

But Ontario had refused to comply with the (2004) panel’s findings, according to the Vegetable Oil Institute of Canada.

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