With Canada and the United States already engaged in a heated tussle over softwood lumber (see "Buzz Cut," September/October 2001), trade relations have taken an unsavory new turn: Canada has shut the door to breaded cheese sticks from the United States.
The move follows a 1999 U.S. declaration that Canadian cheese sticks ("widely considered a delightful accompaniment to either soups or salads," according to the Ottawa Citizen) were more cheese than bread. This made them subject to the heavy import duties favored by the U.S. dairy industry, and effectively excluded Canadian cheese sticks from the U.S. market. In retaliation, Canada has now slapped duties on U.S. cheese sticks as well.
The situation casts an interesting light on the purported allegiance of both countries to free trade: If it can't even guarantee an open market in cheese sticks, what use is it--other than to weaken labor and environmental safeguards? --P.R.