Return to Made in Canada

Raves, rants, and comments about the 2011 uniform change
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aaslett
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Return to Made in Canada

Post by aaslett » Wed May 01, 2013 7:44 am

Is there enough grass-roots sentiment to lobby for a return to having the Scout Uniforms made in Canada? Would a Membership Survey or perhaps Online Petition be a good tool to see what the consensus is?

I know some Families who absolutely will not buy the new Uniform because of the outsourcing, let alone the Joe Fresh / Bangladesh disaster.

What does everybody think?
Alan Aslett
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Re: Return to Made in Canada

Post by aaslett » Wed May 01, 2013 8:25 am

Alan Aslett
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Re: Return to Made in Canada

Post by Angus Bickerton » Wed May 01, 2013 9:09 am

Alan:

I think the biggest problem affecting the outsourcing of textile manufacturing is price. Unfortunately, what are people willing to pay for a shirt is the biggest consideration of all retailers and manufacturers, not the "where/how it is made" factor. And for this, the Canadian public must take responsibility, because we have collectively (if not individually) voted with our dollars. This said, I have a number of youth in my Group's sections who live at or near the poverty level. Their families have no choice but to go with the cheapest clothing (Wal Mart and thrift stores figure largely in their wardrobes), and Scouts Canada must balance this undeniable fact of life against the idea of a "made in Canada" uniform.

I certainly agree with you in principle. The question that must be answered is "can a uniform be fabricated in Canada at substantially the same price-point as the Joe Fresh merchandise?" If so, then when the contract with Joe Fresh expires (I trust that you are not suggesting that SC breach its contract and subjecting itself to a lawsuit), Canadian fabrication alternatives should be looked at by National. If not, the question becomes a lot harder to answer. I have enough money in my wallet to afford a higher-priced uniform for me and my kids, but I can't impose my economics on a family that is struggling to put decent food on the table. If the principle of "made in Canada" cannot be reconciled to a reasonable price point for the youth in our programs, then it gets harder and harder to choose a "made in Canada" alternative to Joe Fresh.

Incidentally, for those who are refusing to buy the "new" uniform because of outsourcing, at least the last run of the tan shirts was outsourced to China, according to the tag in my old tan shirt. The objections being raised in response to the factory collapse are, in part, due to the current focus of the news, regarding the Loblaw/Joe Fresh connection, not outsourcing in and of itself. If that were the case, Canadian textile manufacturing would still exist, which it doesn't compared to thirty years ago. The tragic reality is that this event in Bangladesh, like so many other tragedies in our world, will grab the headlines for a few days or weeks, and then disappear when the next news story comes along. Like so many others before it.
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Re: Return to Made in Canada

Post by Admin » Wed May 01, 2013 9:27 am

aaslett wrote:I know some Families who absolutely will not buy the new Uniform because of the outsourcing, let alone the Joe Fresh / Bangladesh disaster.
I think those families are to some degree either willfully ignorant or hypocritical. Unless they are weaving their own fabrics, or making their own fasteners, most if not all of what they are wearing is sourced from overseas, even if final assembly is happening in Canada.

Places like Bangladesh are going through the industrial revolution and doing so at a far faster rate than the western world, which took a couple of centuries to reach our current state of equilibrium. It is messy and ugly. People working in unsafe conditions are doing so because it is better than the alternatives. Should their working conditions be improved? Absolutely! Will they improve by Canadians cutting off commerce? Not a chance! Trade embargoes have certainly not improved working conditions for North Korea or Cuba. There is no simple answer to improving labour conditions in other countries. Those countries have to help themselves improve. The best we can do is provide them the resources they need to help themselves.

Making the rest of the world a better place does not start with wishing it didn't exist.

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Re: Return to Made in Canada

Post by aaslett » Wed May 01, 2013 9:47 am

One of those Families do walk-the-walk as far as is possible with regard to buying locally. More than I do, and even I try to buy locally (at least North American) made where possible.
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Re: Return to Made in Canada

Post by Denis » Wed May 01, 2013 10:55 am

The outsourcing of clothing manufacturing to places like Bangladesh is the new normal in our global world. I agree that we need to try and help workers in these regions but this simply cannot happen if we withdraw commerce from those regions. This is the stance taken by MEC, for example. Even though the do stock some made in Canada products, you will find that most of the MEC branded clothes, tents and packs are made in places like China.

From the Ethical Sourcing section of MEC's website you will find a lot of good information on this topic. Their reponse to the question of Why Do You Source from China sums up what I was trying to get at well:

We believe sourcing from China actually supports human rights. We favour the "buycott" method of social reform over the traditional boycott method. The latter closes communication, builds fences, and in reality does little to advance human rights. Workers receive no support from the companies who boycott Chinese factories. Instead, the more effective "buycott" uses the supply chain and larger orders to reward suppliers who practice good human rights. By sourcing in China we're able to monitor factories, empower workers, and share our views with their management.

Obviously we can apply this to any region struggling with these same issues.

Our best response to this recent tragedy is to ensure that Joe Fresh is doing all it can to influence change in these regions and, if they are not, to put what pressure we can to help them move in the right direction. That said, my guess is that this tragedy will cause real, and positive, changes in the way they do things. Initial reports seem promising at least.
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Re: Return to Made in Canada

Post by aaslett » Wed May 01, 2013 11:09 am

My stance is based upon multiple factors....

* It makes no sense economically to haul stuff further around the globe than is needed. If it can be made locally (at least on the same continent) then it should be. This reduces waste of energy.
* We need to support local workers and our local economy.
* We need a degree of self-sufficiency in the event of disasters or wars.
* If we are going to provide foreign aid, lets do it via charitable giving (yes I do by the way) & development loans, not by giving away our jobs.
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Re: Return to Made in Canada

Post by Denis » Wed May 01, 2013 11:25 am

Alan, I understand and respect your position; I too often give preference to products made in North America, or even 1st world countries.

Just a caveat though on your first point, purchasing a made in Canada shirt doesn't mean there was significantly less transportation from oversees involved. My understanding is that most clothing made in Canada is made with textiles from oversees. The difference is we are shipping a more raw product vs. shipping a finished product, that's all.

If you can find clothing with a "Product of Canada" label though, that's another story all together (but I don't know if such a beast exists).
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Re: Return to Made in Canada

Post by Angus Bickerton » Wed May 01, 2013 11:32 am

Alan:

This seems to be more of a complaint about globalization, not outsourcing or human rights. Our textile jobs left 3 decades ago. Now they are leaving the places they originally went to (South-Central America, India), and are ending up in places like Bangladesh. Next, we will see a rise in African manufacturing, as companies will continue to seek the lowest labour costs. There is an end to that ship's journey, however. Eventually, the lowest boats in the ocean will rise, and the highest boats will sink, and there will be a relatively level playing field. It is getting to there from here that will be the painful part. (sorry for the mixed and laboured metaphor)

Yes, it is a waste of energy, but it is cheaper. You want more local production, then you must either raise the price of energy, or lower the cost of local production.
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Re: Return to Made in Canada

Post by Sam Wallis » Wed May 01, 2013 3:01 pm

Looking on a different tack, how many people would have to discard the current uniform they bought in the last few years to switch to the new uniform? Saying we could break our contract with Joe Fresh today for no cost, design and make a product of canada uniform, whats the real cost? for sure it costs more for uniform, a barier to lower income families joining scouts. its also hardly wise use of resources to toss the red shirts onto the scrap heap, something that happened with tons of Tans accross the country. I just bought a red shirt, my tan realisticly had 10 years wear left in it.
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Re: Return to Made in Canada

Post by Angus Bickerton » Wed May 01, 2013 3:22 pm

Sam Wallis wrote:I just bought a red shirt, my tan realistically had 10 years wear left in it.
Yep, those tan shirts were indestructible. They also didn't breathe worth a darn (darn poly/cotton blends!).
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Re: Return to Made in Canada

Post by Hawkeye3 » Wed May 01, 2013 8:53 pm

Perhaps we can request that SC ensure that all future products are developed and purchased following an ethics policy similar to MEC? I doubt that between the cost of fabric, shipping, and labour that our leader shirts really cost $34.

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Re: Return to Made in Canada

Post by SteveMatheson » Fri May 03, 2013 8:53 am

Let's face the facts, Canada and Scouts Canada is part of the global village. While some individuals may not be "of" the global economy, we cannot deny that we are "in" the global economy.
Sure, Joe Fresh was only 1 of 30 companies that used that fateful factory in Bangladesh, and Scouts Canada order was not using that factory, and Scouts Canada is a small percentage of Joe Fresh's production. We cannot, however, escape that we are a part of it. We need assurances that anything associated with Scouts Canada is "fair sourced". I was satisfied to see Loblaws reaction during their recent shareholders meeting. (Sure, it is not going to satisfy everyone, but it beats the "not our problem" attitude some investors displayed.)
Let's make sure that we are part of the good in this world. We should embrace and strengthen our relationship with Bangladesh. We should reach out to Bangladesh Scouts (http://www.bangladeshscouts.org/eng/). Perhaps we should make a small price add-on to uniforms which we could contribute to their equivalent of the No One Left Behind fund. (It should, however, need to be more meaningful than a guilt tax.) Perhaps we can arrange to have some of their Scouts come to our next CJ (although there may be more practical ways to engage them than to fly them 12,000 km).
We also have an obligation to teach our youth about the world and our place in it. Perhaps the International Trade Badge (http://wiki.scouts.ca/en/International_Trade_Badge) could be extended to include more topical matters. Perhaps "Investigate the source of Scouts Canada uniforms and other items used by your Pack", whereas much of the existing requirements are biased to towards the old-fashioned notion of explorers and the trading of spices and gem stones. Yes, optional item 1 is to make a list of eight imported items at home, but doesn't focus on Scouts Canada's direct reliance on international sourcing.

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A Scout is helpful … kind … considerate … wise in the use of all resources.
Last edited by SteveMatheson on Fri May 03, 2013 10:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Return to Made in Canada

Post by Angus Bickerton » Fri May 03, 2013 9:36 am

Steve:

Well said, and excellent suggestions. I second that motion!
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