One producer thought the Conservatives would form the next government
By Diego Flammini
Members of Canada’s ag community have weighed in on the results of Monday’s federal election.
“I think status quo was in the back of everybody’s mind,” said Jeff Nielsen, a grain producer from Olds, Alta.
“I think it turned out how most of us thought it would,” said Todd Lewis, president of Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan. “From a provincial perspective I think a lot of us expected Saskatchewan to vote Conservative and that’s exactly what happened.”
At least one member of Canada’s ag sector thought the results might have been different.
“I thought we’d have a Conservative minority,” said Crispin Colvin, a beef and cash crop producer from Middlesex County, Ont. “I thought the Liberals would be down around 140 seats and the Conservatives would pick up the rest.”
Hearing Monday’s results come through the radio made it difficult to understand why an election was necessary in the first place, Nielsen said.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “We went through all that to end up exactly where we were before.”
With the election in the rearview, industry must prepare to work with government on important ag issues.
But the timeline for that isn’t known as Prime Minister Trudeau needs to set a date for a speech from the throne and appoint his cabinet ministers.
And should Marie-Claude Bibeau not return to the agriculture portfolio, that could create challenges, Nielsen said.
“We’re all sitting on our hands waiting for these things,” Nielsen said. “Are they going to get back this fall? It’s already almost October. And is Bibeau going to be our ag minister again? If not, then industry has to spend the time to catch the new minister up on the issues affecting our sector.”
And the ag issue does have multiple issues for the government to address.
Rural infrastructure, especially broadband, is at top of mind, Lewis said.
“Broadband access and better cell coverage is key to the success of farm business and rural Canada,” he said. “These are not luxuries anymore, these are necessities if you want to do business, and COVID had really highlighted that.”
In the party’s platform, the Liberals mandated that large national carriers “will be required to accelerate the roll-out of wireless and high-speed internet in rural and northern Canada by progressively meeting broadband access milestones between now and 2025.”
In addition, work will continue between the federal and provincial ag ministers on the next ag policy framework.
In June, Minister Bibeau launched the consultation process for the next policy framework. The current Canadian Agricultural Partnership expires on March 31, 2023.
Crispin is hopeful the discussions result in programs available for all farmers.
“We need to see programs that take equity into account,” he said. “You sometimes hear these business risk management programs only benefit large producers but if you’re a small farmer then you’re out of luck.”