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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
01 Apr 2015

Quebec/New Brunswick, Canada

Since the 1980's, Quebec has stopped at nothing to become the world's dominant supplier of maple syrup. The industry, which was once a past time for farmers, is now worth almost $500 million, with Quebec controlling the lion's share of the reserves. To ward off competition and ensure consistent supply and pricing, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers has morphed into a government-sanctioned cartel. It chases after producers who don't play by the rules, and is even known to initiate cross provincial border raids. It stockpiles syrup inside its 'Global Strategic Reserve', where it stores more than 68 million pounds of the liquid gold. Pound for pound, a single barrel of syrup is worth 25 times a barrel of crude oil.

A theft at the Federation's warehouse in 2012 saw $18 million worth of syrup stolen. While the perpetrators remain unkown, the federation has accused producers and distributors who oppose them of the heist and have gone as far as using their power to raid the warehouses of some of them.

While the American market heats up and erodes the market share, (buoyed by the consistently high prices set by the Federation), Quebec is willing to do whatever it takes to reign supreme. 

FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 01
Saint Modeste
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

Simone Vezina is reflected in a new batch of maple syrup. Starting clear, the boiling process gives it the distinct golden color. With 7,000 taps, she can produce 35 barrels per year, worth almost $60,000.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 03
Kedgwick
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

Etienne St-Pierre shows the color grading and sugar content of maple syrup in his warehouse. After the theft of syrup, he was suspected by the Federation.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 04
Kedgwick
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

Etienne St-Pierre runs SK Export, a production and brokerage facility in New Brunswick. He is the main buyer for Quebec producers who want to avoid the Federation. He is also the main enemy of the Federation and he has numerous legal cases pending that were brought on by the Federation.

Etienne St-Pierre argues that because he has a federal permit, he should be able to buy and sell to whomever he chooses.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 05
Kedgwick
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

A 2012 theft at the Federations warehouse saw $18 million worth of syrup stolen. Days later, the Federation launched a cross provincial raid on St-Pierre's warehouse stealing syrup, forklifts, and other equipment. The Federation accused him of being behind the theft and St-Pierre is currently under an ongoing investigation.

Pierre has maintained his innocence and feels the Federation used the theft as a convenient pre-text for cracking down on producers and distributors who oppose them.

"I won't stop until I can get my syrup back," says St-Pierre.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 07
Saint Modeste
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

Horse-drawn carts and farm animals are a staple of many sugar shacks.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 14
Saint Modeste
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

Guests dine at Simone Vezina's sugar shacks. Sugar shacks are becoming increasingly popular for corporate retreats and day trips.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 16
Saint Modeste
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

Starting clear, the boiling process removes the water and gives the syrup its distinct golden color.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 17
Saint Modeste
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

A worker at Simone Vezina's sugar shack rests while guests in the other room eat.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 18
Kedgwick
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

Etienne St. Pierre examines syrup samples. The color is graded from light to dark, with the darkest often used for large scale industrial purposes, like maple flavoring.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 19
Saint Quentin
By Leyland Cecco
31 Mar 2015

A large maple leaf sculpture greets visitors to Saint-Quentin, New Brunswick. The town also holds an annual maple festival to usher in the beginning of the sap harvest.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 02
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
30 Mar 2015

Buckets hang off maple trees as a taps hammered into the trees drip sap, which will be used to map syrup. Buckets attached to trees are becoming increasingly rare, as producers opted for vacuum tubes with much higher yields.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 06
Quebec City
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

Quebec's cold winter has delayed the start of the syrup season for more than a month. Because climate change will cause more dramatic season fluctuations, a stockpile of syrup can will benefit the Federation.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 08
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

Vacuum tubes on Angele Grenier's property. The trees will produce between 45-50 barrels, each 400 pounds.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 09
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

Vacuum tubes weave through the forest on Angele Grenier's property. To fuel her boiler, Grenier will use 40 cords worth of wood.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 10
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

"I want the freedom to sell my syrup wherever I want," says a defiant Angele Grenier. She has been selling her syrup in New Brunswick to avoid the Federation.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 11
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

Angele Grenier surveys the tubing that carries maple sap from the trees to collection barrels. There are more than two miles of tubing on her property.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 12
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

Pike, Tommy Brochu's dog, sniffs at the converted freezer that holds the pumps.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 13
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

Tommy Brochu checks his vacuum pumps days before the season begins. He has harvested maple syrup for the last 4 years and sells through the Federation.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 20
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

Discarded barrels that may have been recovered from a massive theft at the federation warehouse in 2012. The theft saw $18 million worth of syrup stolen. The perpetrators remain unknown, but various producers and distributors opposed to the Federation in general have been accused and harassed by the federation over the incident.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 21
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

Inspectors contracted by the Federation of Quebec Maple syrup producers inspect samples drawn from barrels in the Federation's Global Strategic Reserve.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 22
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

The Global Strategic Reserve in Laurierville holds more than 62,800 barrels. Split between two facilities, the total reserve is 68 million pounds of syrup.

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Canada's Maple Syrup Cartel 23
Laurierville
By Leyland Cecco
29 Mar 2015

The Global Strategic Reserve in Laurierville holds more than 62,800 barrels. Split between two facilities, the total reserve is 68 million pounds of syrup.

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Dérives
Montreal, Canada
By SpiralDragon
31 Oct 2012

Ensglish follows

Réalisé de façon indépendante sans aucune contribution financière, le film Dérives est le résultat de plus de trente heures d'entretiens réalisés avec des citoyennes et des citoyens témoins et victimes d'abus policiers.

Le film est partagé gratuitement depuis le 13 février dernier sur Internet à partir du site web du collectif (www.99media.org), avec l'objectif de nourrir le débat public sur la question de l'exercice de la répression et ses conséquences sociales. Une répression qui fut banalisée - voire encouragée - à la fois par les sphères politiques et médiatiques québécoises.

En un mois, le total des visionnements pour Dérives a atteint la somme de 50 000. Le film a également été diffusé plusieurs fois devant public et sera projeté le samedi 16 mars 2013 dans le cadre du festival Hors Cadre. Il s’agit d’un succès qui dépasse toute espérance pour un film qui n'a fait l'objet d'aucune mention par les médias traditionnels et qui prouve que les créateurs des médias émergents pourront désormais s'affranchir de la nécessité d'une attention médiatique.

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Produced independently without any financial aid, Dérives is the result of more than thirty hours of interview with citizen witnesses, and victims, of police brutality.

The film has been available online for free since February 13th on the collective's website (www.99media.org), with the goal of contributing to the public debate on the issue of repression and its social consequences... repression that has been banalised, even encouraged, by Quebec's political and media spheres.

A month after its release, Dérives has been seen more than 50 000 times. The film has also been screened publicly a number of times and will be featured on Saturday, March 16th 2013 at the Hors Cadre festival. This is an unprecedented success for a Quebec documentary without any traditional media mention, proving the emerging media scene can now overcome the need of mainstream media attention.