Canada’s innovation left for greener pastures decades ago – and earls’ restaurant must die for it, today

earlsearls restaurant recently made a decision, after considerable time and effort, to switch their source of beef to a Certified Humane® manufacturer.

They made the announcement on April 27 at 9:01 a.m. on Twitter, which led people to this page which explained their choice in detail, and  as they note in later videos, follows previous decisions on sustainable sources for their food.

By later in the day, the restaurant faced a growing   backlash because their source was in Kansas. It was boosted by opposition MLA’s and MP’s mostly within Alberta – home of Canada’s largest beef sector. It’s a full-on frenzy now as the online community rants and leads an effort to  #BoycottEarls which has been trending in social media for 12 hours so far.  (I’ll note that it was very sad for me to see multiple Canadian politicians shaming a successful Canadian company  when many other non-Canadian companies don’t support Canadian industry.)

earls is a  chain restaurant with roots in Montana and a head office in Vancouver. It’s also a multi-national brand – meaning it has restaurants outside of Canada, and is targeting growth in the United States right now.

This was a photo from before the dress code change at earls in March 2016

In an odd twist, earls  restaurant has been hot this past year – undergoing a re-branding, and suffering due to a CBC Marketplace report about their sexist dress code.  As noted in that story, they weren’t alone in their dress code, something anyone has experienced if they eat at any number of food/drink establishments – and many would agree that earls dress  for their staff was less revealing than many others.

Regardless, earls met the issue head-on, and made a change to their dress code, and they did it promptly. Others have been silent.  The result was earls received negative and positive coverage as the issue unfolded.

I doubt earls expected the kind of beef they are getting now. Especially when the humans working their locations in received less attention.

I understand the backlash on the beef choice – they wanted to continue down a path of sustainable food choices as they have with seafood, and add  Certified Humane® beef to their menu in all countries their restaurant is in – while Canadians think it should be Canadian-made products  on their menu. That’s admirable. 

However, I don’t think they are being treated fairly, and here’s why:

  1. If you fly almost anywhere in Canada – you’re on a plane purchased from another country.
  2. If you use a mobile device – you’ve most likely purchased a product designed and created in another country.
  3. If you buy food   in a Canadian grocery store – you’re most likely to buy a non-Canadian product many times during your visit.
  4. If you buy a new vehicle in Canada – the chances it is made in Canada are slim.
  5. If you buy a television, computer, printer, picture frame, clothing, shoes, glasses, medication, a book, a hearing aid, or a toilet seat from a store in your town  – it most likely came from outside of Canada.
  6. If you are sitting on a chair right now – that’s most likely not from Canada either.
  7. The music you listen to, the cleaning products you use, the  make-up or hair product, and yes, even the gas in your vehicle – all likely from another country outside Canada.
  8. The newspaper writing the scathing story on  earls shameful choice for beef – also not Canadian.

This list would be huge if I continued. And with it, would come questionable health & safety practices, poor wages, and corporate welfare to get it all in front of you right now. Look around the room. Most of what you are looking at was made in ______________ country…but you can only put Canada in that blank a few times.

earls logoSo, why is that earls’ fault? Why should their reputation suffer? Why should you stop eating there? Why should their market share suffer?

Where were we when all of the Canadian-made products we used to have vanished? Why weren’t we throwing manure then?

Over my lifetime (40 years) “Made in Canada” has vanished off of labels. And NOW we have a problem with one restaurant that doesn’t serve Canadian made products?

What about everything else?

Why is earls to blame for bad trade deals?  Why are they to blame because they couldn’t find a Canadian company who was  Certified Humane®?

I think Canada has become a wasteland of products from other countries. Yes, everything we consume will either be dumped in our landfills, forests, or water at some point. Walk into a department store or grocery store…any store…and look around. Everything on those shelves will end up as waste eventually, most within weeks or days of your purchase. Most was not Made in Canada.

I’m glad that Canadians are finally angry about “Made in Canada” vanishing. When “Made in Canada” went,   our innovation left with it.

I can assure you earls is not the reason for our loss of innovation. earls has even stated this:  “We needed to source a Certified Humane® producer that could meet our supply. Steaks and hamburgers are among our biggest selling items and we have always used Canadian beef in Canada.
As our commitment to Conscious Sourcing grew, we made the decision that Certified Humane beef was important to us and started sourcing in Canada. However, after months of trying, we were unable to source a federally inspected, Certified Humane producer that could consistently meet our large supply needs.”

That’s not earls problem. That’s a pure example of the death of Canadian innovation – watching as the world surpasses us to open new markets – new ways of producing a product that is wanted by consumers. It’s also very Canadian of us to shame another Canadian company for being an innovator (Look up: Avro Arrow to BlackBerry).

If we want Canadian products from Canadian companies in our communities – we need to innovate so Canadian’s can buy Canadian products.

Instead, we’ll blame a restaurant for decades of market share leaving Canada for greener pastures.

That’s bull s#$%!

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