Ontario Premier Doug Ford has added a second veteran MPP to assist Ag Minister Ernie Hardeman with the agriculture, food and rural affairs portfolio.
Ford on Wednesday named Toby Barrett as parliamentary assistant to the minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, with responsibility for agriculture and food.
Randy Pettapiece, who since June last year was Hardeman’s parliamentary assistant for agriculture, food and rural affairs, remains as an assistant to Hardeman but with responsibility for rural affairs.
The appointments follow Ford’s minister-level cabinet shuffle on June 20, in which Hardeman kept his current portfolio.
Since Ford’s government took office last June, Barrett — the MPP for what’s now the riding of Haldimand-Norfolk since 1995 — had served as parliamentary assistant to the minister of natural resources and forestry.
The new appointment won’t be Barrett’s first time in the post, having served as parliamentary assistant to the minister of agriculture and food for much of 2002 and 2003 during Ernie Eves’ stint as premier.
During the Tories’ later spells in opposition, Barrett also served as critic for agriculture and food (2005-08) and for agriculture, food and rural affairs (2014-18) among other roles.
Barrett is a partner in his family’s farm near Port Dover, on Lake Erie about 50 km southwest of Hamilton, and has a master’s degree from Ontario Agricultural College and a degree in economics from the University of Guelph.
Barrett taught high school agriculture and environmental science and also worked for the Ontario Addiction Research Foundation for about 20 years before entering politics.
Pettapiece, the MPP for Perth-Wellington since 2011, was previously the Tories’ deputy critic for agriculture (2011-13), critic for rural affairs (2013-14) and critic for the horseracing industry (2013-14, 2017-18), among other roles.
Parliamentary assistants support ministers with legislative and committee matters, including “special projects and assignments that require dedicated leadership,” the province said in a release Wednesday.
The assistants — a roster now including 31 Tory MPPs — “also play a key role in building relationships and communicating government initiatives across the province.” — Glacier FarmMedia Network