Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Quebec and Butter-Coloured Margarine
Is the Controversy Finally Settled?

I posted earlier about a court decision upholding the ban on butter-coloured margarine in the province of Quebec. [see here for my first piece and, again, here for a followup]. Things have changed:

An interprovincial panel has determined that Quebec must open its borders to butter-coloured margarine by Sept. 1, a ruling that will apparently end one of Canada's most enduring ... internal trade disputes.

.... The June 23 ruling made public Monday, found Quebec's ban on butter-coloured margarine “impaired and caused injury to margarine producers and their upstream suppliers,” and is expected to end a trade dispute traceable to the 19th century, when margarine was banned entirely in Canada.
While I applaud the decision, I am not impressed with this basis given for it. I care far less about injury to Unilever and vegetable oil farmers and producers than I do about the true winners in the battles, the consumers. But of course the Glob and Mail does not even hint that consumers are the real winners. Instead, it says,

The margarine ruling, made by a dispute resolution panel of the provinces' Agreement on Internal Trade, is a win for canola producers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and Ontario soybean farmers, whose crops are used in the vegetable-based butter substitute.
The only reason farmers and producers benefit from this decision is that consumers in Quebec wanted ready access to butter-coloured margarine. They are the winners in this decision.

and I would guess that not a single so-called consumer advocacy group was working for them on this case.
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