Can Halifax become a Fair Trade town? | News | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Can Halifax become a Fair Trade town?

Dalhousie student Emily Stewart thinks so.

Halifax city councillors may be consuming nothing but fair trade certified products during meetings if a new campaign to have Halifax recognized as a “Fair Trade Town” gets enough support.

In export-oriented economies in the developing world, workers are often exploited and have limited rights; “Fair Trade” seeks to undo that harm by ensuring that goods sold in Canada are made by people paid a living wage and working in reasonable conditions.

The campaign, launched by Emily Stewart, a fourth-year student in environmental science and economics at Dalhousie University, is beginning Halifax’s application with TransFair Canada. TransFair is a certification organization that is responsible for verifying that all Canadian products labelled as “fair trade certified” are up to international standards.

“We want to celebrate things that Halifax is doing well and promote it,” says Stewart. To receive its certification, one in 10,000 retail outlets [Correction, 25 February]: one retail outlet for every 10,000 people in the city will need to sell at least two fair trade certified products and all Fair Trade Town events need to be promoted in all local media. City council will also need to appoint responsibilities to a member of staff to ensure continued commitment to the movement.

“I think it’s always interesting to see where your food comes from,” says councillor Jennifer Watts. “The question is if it will be more expensive or not and how accessible the product is.”

Wolfville acquired the status in 2007 and was named Canada’s first Fair Trade Town. Last year, Vancouver was the first major Canadian city to be recognized as prominently fair trade. The application process took a little over a year. Though no dates have been set for Halifax’ certification, the group hopes Halifax may be recognized as the world’s 1,000th Fair Trade Town.

“We’re not a protest group,” says Stewart. “It’s not a matter of blacklisting people who don’t provide fair trade products, it’s a matter of making a directory for people to use.”

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