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Lianne Rood named new Conservative ag critic

Lianne Rood named new Conservative ag critic

The Ontario MP is part of Erin O’Toole’s new shadow cabinet

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

The Member of Parliament for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex in Ontario will serve as the new Conservative federal ag critic.

New Conservative leader Erin O’Toole named Lianne Rood as his shadow minister for agriculture and agri-food in his 43-member shadow cabinet.

Rood takes over the position from John Barlow, the Alberta MP for Foothills.

She will present the Conservative party’s views opposite Liberal ag minister Marie-Claude Bibeau.

“It’s my role to hold the government to account on matters of agriculture,” Rood told Farms.com. “Whether that’s questioning the minister of agriculture on things related to the portfolio or sitting on the standing committee on agriculture and agri-food and working with the committee members of all parties to complete studies of importance for the industry.

“We’re also responsible for assisting other (ministries) on agricultural issues.”

The committee recently completed a study on business risk management programs and areas for improvement. But because the prime minister prorogued parliament, the final report must be finished once the government sits again, Rood said.

Rood assumes the position with first-hand knowledge of the ag sector.

She grew up on a 1,000-acre vegetable farm in Grand Bend, Ont. and plans to lean on that experience within the House of Commons.

“I know how hard Canadian farmers work to put food on our tables,” she said. “Growing up in the horticultural industry gives me an upper hand because I understand where food comes from and how much we rely on imported food.”

Canadians shouldn’t be surprised if food security becomes a talking point for the Conservative party in the future, she added.

“A lot of the food Canadians buy isn’t grown or produced here,” Rood said. “We need to ensure that we can supply our own food to Canadians as needed. You’ll see that topic come up a little bit more.”

Rood also gained ag policy experience during her time in Ottawa.

She served as the deputy shadow minister for agriculture from December 2019 until her appointment. In addition, she served as a special assistant to former minister of agriculture Gerry Ritz and helped develop and pass the Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act, which abolished the Canadian Wheat Board.

Since the pandemic began, Prime Minister Trudeau’s government has announced millions of dollars in support for the Canadian ag sector.

But these announcements haven’t equated to concrete solutions, Rood said.

“We haven’t seen any tangible supports for farmers,” she said. “We’ve barely seen any new money going into programs thus far. One change we’ve asked for is to allow farmers who use personal bank accounts instead of business accounts be eligible for some of the (COVID-19 support) loans available. The government has talked about it for months but hasn’t made that change.”

The federal government recently did announce plans to make the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) available to more Canadians.

On Aug. 31, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland extended the application deadline for the CEBA to Oct. 31.

“The government is working closely with financial institutions to make the CEBA program available to those with qualifying payroll or non-deferrable expenses that have so far been unable to apply due to not operating from a business banking account,” a government release says.

Other members of O’Toole’s shadow cabinet include John Nater (Perth-Wellington) as the rural economic development critic opposite Maryan Monsef.

Tracy Gray (Kelowna-Lake Country) is the small business, export promotion and international trade critic to counter Liberal minister Mary Ng.

Former party leader Andrew Scheer will serve as the critic for infrastructure and communities opposite Catherine McKenna.

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