Representatives from four main parties will participate in the Sept. 24 event
By Diego Flammini
Agricultural platforms will be front and centre when representatives from Canada’s four main political parties participate in the Canadian Federation of Agriculture’s (CFA) Agriculture Leaders Debate on Sept. 24.
Marie-Claude Bibeau (current Liberal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food), Luc Berthold (a Conservative MP), Alistair MacGregor (an NDP MP) and Kate Storey (a Green Party representative) will participate. They will answer questions based on the CFA’s Producing Prosperity Canada campaign, which focuses on economic growth, food security and environmental stewardship.
From left: Marie-Claude Bibeau, Luc Berthold, Alistair MacGregor and Kate Storey.
The CFA held a similar event during the last federal election in 2015.
The debate gives farmers an opportunity to understand what each party has in store for the ag sector during a time when farming gets put on the backburner, said Errol Halkai, executive director of the CFA.
“Agriculture is a very significant sector in this country but it doesn’t get a lot of recognition during the election period,” he told Farms.com. “The parties will mention agriculture in their platforms but not to the extent that farmers want to hear, so we give the parties a chance to elaborate on the issues that are important to farmers.”
One of the main issues producers want to hear about is trade.
Canada has ag trade disputes with Italy and Saudi Arabia over wheat, in addition to trade challenges with China affecting canola, pork and beef producers.
How the parties plan to reopen those markets for Canadian farmers is important, said Mike Ammeter, a cash crop producer from Sylvan Lake, Alta.
“We need to know what the responses are going to be in dealing with these countries while not getting walked all over,” he told Farms.com. “The fact is, there’s a list of countries that aren’t accepting some of our farm products and we’re not in a position of power. That’s unacceptable for us since we’re so reliant on trade.”
Canadian farmers are encouraging one another to watch the event.
One of the debaters will likely represent the industry going forward, said Adrienne Ivey, a rancher from Ituna, Sask.
“The debate shows a commitment to agriculture and that’s extremely important,” she told Farms.com. “The parties have an opportunity to speak directly to farmers and show they have a grasp of the issues we face and how they affect our industry.”
Even individuals outside of the ag industry should tune in on Sept. 24, if only to understand that several sectors contribute to the health of the country, Halkai said.
“One of the areas we’re trying to push is that agriculture doesn’t just have an impact on rural Canada, but all of Canada,” he said. “We hope that consumers will tune to learn a little bit about agriculture and what challenges our farmers are facing, because those challenges will likely have an affect on someone down the line.”