Since this was posted Arif Jinha has withdrawn his candidacy for the NDP. The project noted here remains a great idea!
federal NDP candidate in the riding of Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox-Addington, sent this letter to members of his facebook group, outlining a terrific idea for the soon-to-be-closed Hershey’s plant in Smiths Falls:
Fair Trade in Smiths Falls
To members of Arif4MP Lanark Frontenac Lennox and Addington
Hi supporters of me! You are making my political head swell, really.
So here’s the thing. I’m sure most of you have heard about the upcoming closing of the Hershey’s Factory in Smiths Fall in 2008 – 500 jobs. This coincides with the ongoing closure of Rideau Regional – 800 jobs. 1300 jobs is 13% of the town’s population, which is already disparately poor by Canadian standards. That’s maybe 100,00 jobs in the NCR. The reason Hershey’s is closing is that the profit the factory makes is not as high for Hershey’s as it could be with low-wage labour in Mexico.
I have spoken with the workers at the factory and shared with them an idea I had, and had been thought of by others – one being an international development consultant who was there at the meeting.
The idea is to save some of the jobs, with potential for future job creation, by a combination of employee buyout and re-organizing into a Fair Trade chocolate producer. The Chocolate Museum that exists now would be transformed into an educational Fair Trade Exhibition. The workers saw the vision, but were understandably cautious as to their risks and the feasibility. We need a feasibility study and are trying to get the funds for it.
With my head already swelled by your support, I have to say that in theory it is a magnificent idea.
The end product would be a ‘manufactured in Canada by worker-owned company fair trade/local dairy’ chocolate. Guilt-free sin! It’s insanely marketable as a chocolate with a story. I have already named it Sweet Justice.
Globalization is killing manufacturing here, not to mention impoverishing farmers and expoliting poverty for comparative advantage in labour. This product would turn all those on their heads. Many times people have told me their fears that we focus too much on global problems when there are so many here. Of course, many would disagree given the comparative degradations. So, we get to satisfy all! And satisfaction is what chocolate is all about. Charities that sell chocolate for poor kids would know that there’s no child labour in the product, and they’re contributing to global and local prosperity.
Ok, long message, sorry about that. The problem is that though we’ve now met with the Deputy Minister of Economic Development, with an expert from Queen’s on employee buyout, the energy has been flat. No one has flat out ruled out this proposal, but given it’s greater complexity than other solutions like building condos, amusement park, a retail only Hershey store (talk about licking the crumbs of the one who walked on you!), I fear it will not happen.
So, it would cheer me up and motivate me to somehow,’make it happen’ if you write me and tell me how enthusiastic you are about a ‘manufactured in Canada by worker-owned company Fair Trade/Local Dairy Chocolate’.
Smiths Falls – The Chocolate Capital of Ontario, would not be the same if it is does not make chocolate! And the Legend it would be if it could be done would make it famous, thus sellling more chocolate and creating more jobs and lifting more producers out of poverty!! This is the subject of my first MA research paper, and we are still holding out hope for the funds that are needed from the province for the feasibility study.
So that is the reason I write you now, in the hopes that your enthusiasm allows me the energy to pursue a longshot. Let me know what you think.
Thank you so much!
Thanks to Arif Jinha, NDP candidate Mom’s riding of Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox-Addington, for sending me this timely poem:
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading.
Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.