New Conservative leader on campaign trail in London, Ont.
By Diego Flammini
If Ontario voters elect the PCs on June 7, the ag minister will have first-hand knowledge of the industry, according to PC leader Doug Ford.
“I can assure you the next Minister of Agriculture will be an MPP that was a farmer,” he said during a rally in London, Ont. yesterday.
Ford cited Kathleen Wynne’s 2013 decision to appoint herself agriculture minister after being sworn-in as premier.
Lisa Thompson, Huron-Bruce, and Toby Barrett, Haldimand-Norfolk and agriculture critic, are the Conservative MPPs who live on farms, according to their official bios.
Other MPPs have indicated they've grown up on farms, according to their bios.
Do farmers believe it’s important for the next ag minister to be a producer?
It certainly helps, but shouldn’t be the only criteria, said Keith Currie, a hay and sweet corn producer and president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.
“Having a farmer in that role can certainly have its pluses and minuses,” Currie told Farms.com early today.
“Someone who farms would certainly be sympathetic to the issues going on in the industry, but I don’t know if I’m hung up on the idea of that person being a farmer.”
The agriculture minister’s duties include creating 120,000 industry jobs by 2020, supporting supply management, and supporting the Climate Change Action Plan, according to current minister Jeff Leal’s 2016 mandate letter.
Many of the minister’s responsibilities include collaborations with other ministries, so someone with knowledge of multiple issues would be a good fit for the position, Currie said.
“One of the problems you may run into is an unfamiliarity with other sectors,” he said.
“It doesn’t mean they would do a bad job but I think I’m looking for someone with well-rounded knowledge of multiple sectors and who can talk to the leaders of the industry about different issues and how to solve them.”
Patrick Morrell/CBC photo