NDP’s deputy ag critic moves to first chair

The federal New Democrats have promoted their deputy agriculture critic to the lead post in their new shadow cabinet.

NDP leader Tom Mulcair on Thursday announced Ruth Ellen Brosseau, the MP for the central Quebec riding of Berthier–Maskinonge since 2011, as the party’s critic for agriculture and agri-food, replacing defeated Niagara-area MP Malcolm Allen.

Brosseau, now 31, was among the crop of rookie Quebec MPs the party brought forward in 2012 to develop their chops in critic and deputy critic portfolios, after they’d rode an orange wave into official Opposition in the 2011 election.

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An assistant manager at a Carleton University campus pub in Ottawa before the 2011 election, Brosseau as a candidate gained brief national notoriety that year for sticking to her pre-election plans for a Vegas vacation in the middle of the campaign.

She’d been viewed as a “parachute” candidate — a longshot dropped into Berthier–Maskinonge to keep the NDP on the ballot there against a Bloc Quebecois incumbent — and was also ribbed after the election for having limited French, at the time, in a solidly francophone riding.

Working with Allen on the agriculture file, however, Brosseau devoted time to the development of a Canadian food strategy, a prominent NDP initiative. She also served as vice-chair of the Commons standing committee on agriculture and agri-food for just over a year starting in February 2014.

As deputy ag critic, Brosseau also took point on issues facing the agrifood industry such as farms’ and processors’ access to temporary foreign workers, compensation for dairy producers following the signing of the Canada/EU free trade agreement, and food waste.

With the NDP now returned to second-opposition status, Mulcair has also brought forward rookies to serve on critic files of interest to farmers, including Tracey Ramsey, MP for the southern Ontario riding of Essex and, pre-election, a Ford employee, as trade critic.

Other critics on files of interest to farmers include Christine Moore, the MP for Abitibi–Temiscamingue since 2011, handling rural affairs, and Linda Duncan, an Edmonton MP since 2008, handling the transport portfolio. — AGCanada.com Network

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