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Falling into the trap of partisanship will only deepen the divide between farmers and city dwellers

The immense frustration the agricultural community feels over failing trade relationships, poor commodity prices, rising input costs and unusual weather is scrambling for a target to blame. It found one.
During and following the recent federal election, many outspoken champions of the agricultural sector spewed bile at the Liberals for the party’s carbon tax, its handling of the trade dispute with China, and for failing to properly address the concerns farmers are currently facing and alienating the Western provinces. Some of those same people also questioned the new minority government as a democratic travesty, given that it secured less than one third of the popular vote.
The election gave us a mic and we yelled into it without thinking, squandering an opportunity to elevate political discourse and public perception of the agricultural industry.
Tweeting angrily about the parties that some of Canada’s largest cities routinely elect is not going to convince people in those cities that agricultural concerns are everyone’s concerns, and it’s certainly not going to create that needed groundswell of support required for favourable reforms or even favourable attention.
This election made Neanderthals of otherwise progressive Canadians. It was disheartening to witness.
We’ve fallen into the trap of partisanship, believing with little backing that the agricultural, religious and economic values espoused in many of our rural communities are embodied by a single political party, regardless of who sits in that seat and how effective they are.
Farmers and Canadians alike dug in their heels and chose to believe that political parties themselves have a power greater than the people representing them.
Leading up to election day, the sector pressured candidates to release their agricultural platforms. Farmers were correct to point out that agriculture wasn’t a campaign platform for any party, and they were justified in making their complaints public.
But, this pressure shouldn’t just come from industry. It is the electorates these leaders represent who should be demanding strong positions on agriculture, which represent something that affects us all and is closely tied to issues surrounding the environment, the economy, food and our national identity.
Agriculture is a sizeable slice of the nation’s GDP, but most Canadians are not used to making the connection between jobs on Bay Street and a sector that is almost ubiquitously associated with an American Gothic portrayal of people unable to comprehend urban-scale complexities.
This disassociation is colloquially referred to as the rural-urban divide, the irony of which is that it doesn’t actually exist, despite all the efforts being made to bridge it.
If the point about how interconnected things are needs more backing than just saying it, then I apologize for a lifetime of misinterpreting what I thought were obvious signs. The complex value chain that agriculture represents is as crucial, complex and interwoven as veins in the body.
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