The Saudi spat: The local implications thus far
IT STARTED WITH a tweet over human rights and now the feud between Saudi Arabia and Canada has escalated into one of the biggest diplomatic rifts in years between the two nations. Here’s the London impact thus far:
• A total of 54 Saudi Arabian medical residents and trainees have been ordered out of London by their government, placing a burden on an already strained healthcare system. London Health Sciences Centre, St. Joseph’s Health Care and Western University have indicated they will release further information by way of statements next week.
• More than 150 Saudi Arabian students in London are being forced to relocate by the end of the month after receiving an order from their country to leave Canada. There are currently 21 Fanshawe College and 131 Western University students (including the 54 medical students) from Saudi Arabia.
On Monday, the Saudi government emailed a notice to its international students who receive funding through the nation’s educational scholarship. They were ordered to transfer elsewhere—such as the UK or U.S.—to complete or restart their post-secondary and post-graduate education. Four London institutions—Western, Fanshawe, CultureWorks and London Language Institute—were government-approved learning destinations for Saudi students.
Many of the Saudi students in London are now scrambling to sell cars, pay off outstanding debts, terminate home leases and cancel other commitments. Some are mature students with families, including children born in Canada.
• It is unclear how—or if—tensions between Saudi Arabia and the Canadian government is going to impact London’s defence sector. General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada (GDLS-C) supplies light armoured vehicles, known as LAV IIIs, to Saudi Arabia. The federal government inked a $15-billion deal with the company in 2014 (the deal has come under a harsh public spotlight when criticism arises of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record).
The GDLS-C plant has become the centrepiece of a growing defence sector in the city that includes dozens of supplier companies.
While observers say the freeze shouldn’t affect the deal, signed under the former Conservative government and honoured by Justin Trudeau’s ruling Liberals, there are worries it could be jeopardized if friction between the two countries worsens.
New pot shop set for Dundas Street
BELEAVE INC. HAS announced the opening of two new Medi-Green stores, one in Montreal and the other at 211 Dundas Street in London.
Medi-Green is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Beleave Inc., and was acquired by the company earlier this year. The two stores mark the first new locations since the acquisition, and will join existing store locations in Perth, Hamilton and Kingston.
“With the addition of our new London location, we’re coming through on our commitment to provide the residents of Ontario with quality and accessible medicinal cannabis in a safe and trusted environment,” said Beleave CEO, Andrew Wnek. We have aggressive plans for expanding the Medi-Green brand and these two new stores are just the beginning.”
Despite no official word from the province on how it plans to manage the sale of recreational cannabis come October, private retailers and licensed medical cannabis distributors are flocking to Ontario to set up shop.
Due to open in late-September, the London store will be approximately 1,500 square feet in size, and the company says employee training and onboarding will begin after Labour Day.
“With the new stores, Medi-Green’s superior customer service and respected expertise will be available to even more Canadians,” said Beleave CFO, Bojan Krasic. “As the distribution and point of sale landscape evolves, we will continue to invest in additional locations, employee training and community outreach to be advantageously positioned for new opportunities as they arise.”
Hamilton-based Beleave is a biotech company whose wholly-owned subsidiary, Beleave Kannabis Corp., is licensed to cultivate and sell medical cannabis and produce cannabis oils and extracts pursuant to Health Canada’s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purpose Relations. Beleave has developed a network of medical cannabis clinics under the Medi-Green banner and has applied for various patents to broaden its research focused foundation.
Old South Farmers Market plays to late-day shoppers
LONDON’S NEWEST FARMERS’ market—the recently launched Old South Famers Market—operates with a bit of a twist: late-afternoon and early-evening hours.
The market, which sets up in the parking lot in front of Storm Stayed Brewing Co. at 169 Wharncliffe Road South, runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursdays in August and September
According to market founder, Paige Postma, instead of the traditional morning hours often favoured by farmers’ markets, the later-day operating hours look to deliver improved access to a selection of fresh foods for both working professionals and students.
“We really wanted to tap into the next generation’s kind of lifestyle [and] an after-work market is the way to do that,” Postma told CBC London. “The response has been amazing so far.”
Postma, who also participates in other London-area markets and is co-owner of Sungold Organics, a vegetable and herb farm located south of London, says market customers are also encouraged to linger and grab a bite from the Storm Stayed Brewing Co. kitchen.
The Old South Farmers Market features nine local food vendors and one additional rotating artisan booth, and will operate on Thursdays through September 27.
Buck-a-beer holds little appeal for local craft brewers
PREMIER DOUG FORD’S buck-a-beer election promise may have been a crafty way to appeal to the working class, but according to the folks who run some of the London’s craft breweries, they aren’t about to start cheapening their products for the premier.
Ford unveiled his buck-a-beer plan at a press conference earlier this week, challenging Ontario brewers to drop the price of beers to $1 by August 27. While brewers won’t be required to lower prices, they are being encouraged to do so in order to “receive LCBO promotional considerations such as limited-time discounts, in-store displays on end aisles and shelf extenders, or advertising in LCBO flyers and newspaper inserts.”
Craft breweries, however, aren’t exactly on board.
In response to the plan, craft brewers across Ontario have been vocal about their reasons for not participating. Citing the costs of creating a quality product and supporting living wages for workers, local craft brewers have already publically opposed Ford’s buck-a-beer plan.
“It’s physically not possible for us to sell our product for a dollar a beer because we would be losing money on every can that sold,” Gavin Anderson, owner of Anderson Craft Ales, told Postmedia. “It doesn’t matter what kind of shelf space or preferred advertising is offered. If they wanted to make it accessible to smaller breweries, they would be looking at discounting the tax rates instead of offering incentives to the foreign-owned macro-breweries.”
Likewise, Forked River Brewing Co. co-owner Dave Reed, cited an unwillingness to cut quality. “It’s not anything we are pursuing or can pursue. If we were to try and sell beer at a buck a beer, we would have to compromise quality or use pre-processed ingredients—things we are just really not willing to do.”
Partnership promises added value for local cash grain marketplace
SMALE FARMS, LTD. has announced the formation of a partnership with The Redwood Group, LLC aimed at bringing additional value to the local cash grain marketplace.
Smale Farms operates grain storage and handling facilities located in London and Mossley, with the ability to clean, sort and bag products. The Redwood Group, based in Kansas, operates a specialized supply chain, logistics and marketing program throughout the United States, Canada and abroad. This partnership utilizes the logistics and merchandising experience of both parties to increase the bottom line of the producer.
“Being a family run business, it is very important that our partners emulate the same core values that we have built our business on over the past few decades,” said Jeff Smale, general manager of Smale Farms. “Like us, The Redwood Group prides itself on honesty, transparency and customer service. We are very happy to have developed a relationship with Redwood and are excited to see the benefits of this partnership get passed along to the local farming community.”
Mike Kincaid, President of The Redwood Group stated, “I am extremely pleased to have the opportunity to partner with Smale Farms and to service the Southwestern Ontario farmer. We are proud to put our name next to the Smale Farms’ name as we know how well regarded their family is in the area. This partnership allows us to offer our expertise not only to our customers, but also to our partner.”
Smale Farms, Ltd. was founded in 1979 by Gordon Smale, and has been operated by the Smale family since. They will continue to operate the facilities, which receive corn, wheat, soybeans and rye.
Business Events Calendar
Dundas Street businesses are throwing a party celebrating their street, the arts, and unique downtown experiences. The street will be programmed by participating businesses, buskers, artists, and entertainment.