- Politics and Social Issues
Food Inflation Effects: The Canadian North
Price Of Food Skyrockets in Canadian Arctic
Arctic communities in Canada are experiencing an economic crisis of Biblical proportions that should serve as a dire warning for us all. In my opinion, the Harper government has not only handled the situation unprofessionally and unsoundly, but perhaps even autothoratively in violation of our civil liberties. Astonishing food prices have hit the grocery stores.
Consumer outrage and awe ensued after photos of high-priced items in a grocery store in Arctic Bay surfaced. Some of the photos at a Northern Store showed a $13 bag of spaghetti, a $29 jar of Cheez Whiz, a $77 bag of breaded chicken, and a $38 bottle of cranberry juice.
Critics have been quick to point the finger at Health Minister (and Nunavut MP) Leona Aglukkaq and the federal Nutrition North Canada program as the reason for price hikes. In a Draconian measure to promote healthy eating, our government felt the need to enforce what we can eat. The argument is that under a socialized health care system where the government picks up the bill, the government should have some authority in this area. While I agree this argument has some merit and should be subject to proper democratic debate, in the case of the Canadian Arctic, the situation is being completely taken out on context and these people are suffering to make out as an example. The policies and starvation that will eventually result are eery similar to that of the Ukrainian famine enforced by Josef Stalin.
Due to the enormous fuel costs in having food shipped to the Arctic, the Federal government has a subsidy program put in place to keep food at affordable levels, however recently a new subsidy program was created. The new subsidy program doesn't cover food items that are claimed to be considered unhealthy or nonperishable. Many such items were previously covered under the old program. Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq is insisting that changes are not being reflected in food prices. Instead, she's blaming retailers for "unethical profiteering."
While I like the idea of the government granting tax breaks for buying healthy food vs unhealthy food, such a policy isn't remotely applicable to the situation up in the Arctic. Consider the climate in the Arctic. They live in the tundra. Vegetables and fruits don't grow in the Arctic. The subsidy doesn't cover nonperishable foods or meats, which are deemed to be unhealthy. The fact of the matter is due to the climate and conditions in the Canadian Arctic; people have been living off of nonperishable food and meats for thousands of years. As encouraging as it is to eat fresh foods and vegetables, this isn't realistic when applied to the Arctic. There doesn't exist much of an alternative so to speak, and I personally can't help but feel these food laws were created by a fanatical vegan on a power streak. The Federal government should be accused of gross incompetence, negligence, and or oppression. Perhaps all three. Food is a fundamental human right. Refusing to provide the necessary food for these people in order to enforce a government policy is a sanctionable offense according to the United Nations.
As I'm writing this article, Americans and even Canadians are using Egypt as an example of what could come if food prices continue to spin out of control. They ignorantly fail to realize there's an "Egypt like" food crisis right next door in a first world nation. The World Bank is warning that 44 million people worldwide have fallen into extreme poverty due to the spike in food costs. There's no doubt that food prices are rising to dangerous and potentially life threatening levels round the world.
What has happened in Canada should raise a few alarm bells for people:
- This stuff is real. The time of sleep and pretending there isn't a horrid global economic crisis on the horizon is over. It's more than simply having less money in your pocket; it's potentially life threatening to you and your family.
- The government of a 1st world nation either chose not to come to the aid or was unable to aid the people suffering through the food crisis. This means that you can't expect the government to help you in your hour of greatest need.
- Not only did the government not help, but instead took advantage of the situation to introduce some Draconian measures in an effort to promote a pet policy.
I hope the ridiculous policies inserted on the Canadian Arctic soon come under revision and are altered immediately. Keep in mind though, it's only a matter of time until we see similar food prices in the continental mainland of Canada and the United States. It represents a prelude of what is to come. Learn and observe well from what has happened in the Canadian Arctic. Heed how the government reacted . . . . To quote Sun Tzu in the Art of War, "know your terrain." You better adapt or you'll be left behind . . .
-Donovan D. Westhaver
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