Armed escort for sweet haul

by The Canadian Press

MONTREAL, Quebec— In many places, gold shipments will get their own police escort. In others, nuclear materials might get that same security treatment.

But what about Canada, eh?

In this country, the protected material can be maple syrup. A convoy of 16 trailer-loads of the sweet stuff on Wednesday undertook an interprovincial journey—accompanied by a squad of provincial police cars.

The shipment stems from an investigation into a stolen haul from a Quebec warehouse and the sticky substance is on its way back home from neighbouring New Brunswick.

Yvon Poitras, the general manager of the New Brunswick Maple Syrup Association, says the goods came from a New Brunswick exporter.

“(The convoy’s) under police protection going somewhere in Quebec,” he said.

“We’ve been asked not to talk because it’s under investigation.”

Police confirm that an investigation is underway, but are keeping mum. They will only say that a search was carried out on September 26 at a company alongside a highway in Kedgwick, New Brunswick.

In August, the Quebec Federation of Maple Syrup Producers reported the theft of a massive quantity from the warehouse in St-Louis-de-Blandford. The missing stock was discovered during a routine inventory check.

The burglarized warehouse held more than 4.5 million kilograms of maple syrup, valued at over $30 million. The exact amount of the theft was not disclosed.

The syrup had been in temporary storage at the Quebec warehouse and was slated to be moved to a new facility.

Etienne St-Pierre, the owner of SK Export Inc in New Brunswick, said Wednesday that police arrived at his business last week: “They seized all my documents that were in the computer.”

St-Pierre said investigators were looking for someone who sold him 10 truckloads of syrup. Police also seized 181,400kg, or 800 barrels, during their visit.

The New Brunswick exporter says his syrup comes from about 35 small maple producers in Quebec and he sells his products in England, Germany, Denmark and the United States.

“But they are all small volumes,” he added.

Quebec produces between 70 and 80 per cent of the world’s maple syrup and two-thirds of the Canadian supplies exported to the United States, according to that provincial federation.