Ontario NDP Ag Critic Identifies Lack of Outreach as a Real Concern
By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
When it comes to politics, sometimes it’s hard to get a real sense of what’s really going on behind the scenes. This has been especially true with it comes to Ontario agricultural politics lately, with the splitting of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs into two separate Ministries and the more recent revelation of Kathleen Wynne’s second swearing-in ceremony after “Food” was omitted from her first oath.
With all these unusual changes occurring, it would be expected that a lot of things are also happening behind the scenes. In an exclusive interview with Ontario NDP Agriculture Critic John Vanthof, Farms.com was able to get a glimpse of the real interworking of what’s going on at Queen’s Park when it comes to agriculture.
When asked about Premier Wynne’s secret second swearing-in ceremony, Vanthof chuckled and said that “it’s an unfortunate incident but in the big picture it isn’t going to make a difference….I am hoping that it’s not an example of how things are going to work in the future”. Vanthof gives Wynne the benefit of the doubt that missing “Food” from the ministerial portfolio was an honest mistake, but also says that he has a hard time believing that the Liberals could make that big of an administrative error.
Vanthof goes on to say “she [Wynne] has taken on the task and I think that most farmers on the ground are still very skeptical of whether or not she is going to be able to accomplish something…the leaders of the farm groups are also being cautious and optimistic.”
Perhaps the biggest revelation in Vanthof’s interview is his concern over the lack of outreach and discussion on the issues that matter to farm families. In addition to being the critic of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs, Vanthof is also the NDP critic for the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and said that he has already received a call from the MNR minister.
Vanthof says that neither “the minister of agriculture or the minister of rural affairs has made any attempt to reach out to talk about [agriculture or rural] issues.”
Vanthof is anxiously waiting for someone from either of the two ministerial portfolios to reach out and begin the discussion on agricultural issues. Vanthof says that some of the key issues that are important right now are families affected by the decisions made by the government about the horseracing industry and the long-term strategy for farm risk management programs.