The deputy prime minister listened as farmers raised industry and community concerns
By Diego Flammini
Canada’s deputy prime minister met with farmers from Alberta’s Peace Country during a visit back home.
Chrystia Freeland, who grew up on a farm and whose father Don remains an active farmer, listened as close to 20 farmers raised different farming and rural-related issues.
"During her most recent visit to Alberta earlier this month, the deputy prime Minister met with local farmers in her home town of Peace River. It was a very useful opportunity to hear firsthand from farmers about the challenges and opportunities they face today," Katherine Cuplinskas, Freeland's press secretary, told Farms.com in an email.
"As the daughter of a farmer, Ms. Freeland knows firsthand the important work of Canadian farmers, who help feed families in Canada and around the world."
Having someone of Freeland’s stature engage with the community meant a lot to those people who attended the meeting.
“She’s essentially second in command of the government and it’s not very often we get politicians of her calibre to come to the Peace River Country of Alberta,” Henry Vos, a retired farmer and farm real estate agent, told Farms.com. “I think it was (July) 1988 at the 200th anniversary of the community of Fort Vermilion that we saw someone come up, and that was (Prime Minister) Brian Mulroney.”
Vos is friends with Freeland’s father and suggested the deputy prime minister meet with farmers the next time she returned home. In December, Freeland’s office contacted Vos about setting up the meeting, which took place on Jan. 8.
Several topics dominated the bulk of the conversation during the 90-minute meeting.
“Markets in general and access to those markets were very important topics mentioned by the farmers,” Vos said. “They’re very concerned about the Chinese market, the Indian market on Canadian pulses and other trade barriers on our agricultural commodities.”
The group also discussed the carbon tax and its implications on grain farms, western alienation, AgriStability and the lack of childcare in rural communities.
To her credit, Freeland addressed each issue as best she could, Vos said.
“It was one of the parts that people respected most from the conversation,” he said. “She was willing to take each topic and speak to it to the best of her ability and with the knowledge of the government. On markets, for example, she talked about trade agreements and the importance of rail transport.”
Henry Vos presents Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland with a book on the Jackson family, early Peace River pioneers.
Henry Vos photo