Some farmers support it while others don’t see the need for the snap election
By Diego Flammini
Ontario producers have mixed feelings when it comes to the upcoming federal election.
Canadians will head to the polls on Sept. 20 after Gov. Gen. Mary Simon accepted Prime Minister Trudeau’s request on Aug. 15 to dissolve Parliament.
“Canadians deserve to choose what the next 17 months, what the next 17 years and beyond will look like,” the prime minister said outside Rideau Hall last week.
Some farmers, however, feel now is not the time to send Canadians to voting stations.
The prime minister and the federal government should be focused on important issues and not seeking more power, said Mark Davis, a cash crop and hog producer from Lenox & Addington County.
“It’s obvious (the prime minister) is thinking of himself and not the country,” he told Farms.com.
But as the campaign rolls on, Davis will be looking for leaders’ to talk about opportunities for agriculture.
Export markets are an important part of agriculture’s success in Canada and farmers will want to understand how the next federal government will address market access issues.
“We need to have access to open markets,” Davis said. “We know China retaliated for Canada holding (Huwaei COO Meng Wanzhou) and basically cut off canola and pork imports. I don’t think our government did a good job standing up to them and we need our next government to do that. Canadian farmers produce some of the safest food in the world and it needs to be portrayed as such on the world stage.”
Other industries are put in the spotlight during election campaigns and agriculture needs to be one of them as well, Davis added.
“You hear the leaders talk about the auto sector like there are no other ways to travel,” he said. “But what’s the alternative to food? Without food, you don’t live.”
Outside of agriculture, Davis wants to see how Canada responds to the situation in Afghanistan.
Canada promised to resettle more than 20,000 people from the country to protect them from the Taliban.
Canadians should have a clear idea of how the government plans to accommodate these people, Davis said.
“Instead of trying to befriend everybody we need someone to say, ‘what do I need to get these people out of there?’” he said. “If there are Canadian citizens trapped in Kabul, (the Canadian government) should be doing whatever’s possible to get them out of there safely. We’ve heard the prime minister say his hands are tied but I think it’s time for him to act and get these people out of there.”
Other producers are okay with the notion of heading to the polls next month.
Canada has a history of heading to the polls during challenging times.
“A couple provinces have already had elections (during the pandemic),” said Erica Murray, a cash crop producer from Huron County who is volunteering for a local candidate. “Canada also had federal elections during both world wars.”
The pandemic has highlighted the broadband gap across the country. How a party chooses to address this issue could be important for voters, Murray said.
“We know how important broadband is to rural communities and we’ve seen commitments to expand that,” she said. “I hope to see those commitments and continue and grow even further.”
Another important issue for Murray is farmland preservation.
Political parties have mentioned Canada’s housing situation on the campaign trail and outlined steps to house more Canadians.
But where those homes, apartments and condo buildings will be built needs to be taken into consideration, she said.
“We know there’s a housing shortage, but if we don’t have enough farmland to grow food to feed our country, that sets us up for future failure,” she said. “We have to make sure we protect what farmland we have.”
Canadians vote for the next government on Sept. 20.
Information on where and how to vote can be found on the Elections Canada website.
In addition, during the campaign Farms.com is highlighting party platforms and what they have in store for agriculture.
To date, Farms.com has covered the Bloc Québécois, the Conservatives and the NDP.