By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
Ontario farm and processor organizations say that they have been forced to cancel plans for a political debate focusing on food and farm issues between the leaders of the four political parties ahead of the June 12 provincial election citing scheduling problems.
On May 15, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Alliance of Ontario Food Processors and the Holland Marsh Growers’ Association called for candidates to debate food and farm issues. But after much effort between the various groups and political parties involved, and with only two weeks left before Election Day, with no date set, organizers felt that they were left with no other choice but to cancel the anticipated event.
“We couldn’t get the dates to jive,” Steve Peters, Executive Director for the Alliance of Ontario Food Processors said in an interview on Friday.
If the organizers had been successful, it would have marked the first time that party leaders would have had a debate on food and farm issues. In the past, what has been traditionally done is a debate among the agriculture critics from the various parties. Typically, only two debates are held for the party leaders during an election – the northern and main debate.
A spokesperson for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Neil Currie says that the agri-food sector is disappointed that the leaders’ hectic schedules could not permit them to face off on a rural Ontario focused debate.
“We look forward to having agri-food issues addressed at the [main leaders’] debate on June 3 and will continue to press our concerns with all parties as a united industry, during and after the election,” he said.