Scoff as you may but they are taking steps to use the political process to promote their cause.
As expected, agriculture received the usual bum’s rush by the political parties during the election. The three main party leaders were all seen to make the usual obligatory photo opportunity on a farm, with generic pronouncements about sustainability and the family farm. I guess we can’t expect much more from urban-oriented political parties. The only area where there is some crossover is with food safety, but I feel consumers and politicians don’t connect that to agriculture.
Both Conservatives and Liberals had their photo ops in the riding of Ralph Goodale in Saskatchewan, the only Liberal left in that province. He is known as the king of loud indignant self-righteousness on any issue and a real annoyance to the Conservative government.
One little political event that escaped most of us in agriculture was the second appearance of the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada. This is an officially registered federal political party that ran four candidates in the Toronto area. Yes, they are what you might suspect – a group of extremists that consider the Green Party far too conservative in promoting animal rights and the environment.
Scoff as you may but they are taking steps to use the political process to promote their cause. It’s not a lost cause either. In the Netherlands where they have proportional representation an animal rights party received enough votes to elect two members to their national parliament. Besides, thanks to federal legislation which provides $1.75 per vote this animal rights party will be receiving a thousand-dollar cheque courtesy of the Canadian taxpayer – which is you.
By the time you receive this edition of Alberta Farmer, the new federal cabinet will have been announced and it may or may not include Gerry Ritz as the ag minister. His future was in doubt because of some misspoken words he made on the listeria outbreak. If he is replaced it would be unfortunate as his enthusiasm and outspokenness was most welcome for the image of agriculture.
The only agricultural issue that will see any priority with the government is the future of the Canadian Wheat Board. That has developed into an ideological confrontation and there will only be one outcome – the elimination of the CWB by this federal government. That would be unfortunate since the CWB plays a very valuable role in trade issues and international market development.
One wonders what folks at the National Farmers Union and its allies think they would achieve with their support of legal actions against the government to preserve a status quo CWB. All they have achieved is a severely cheesed-off federal government. I expect the Conservative government will attach draconian changes to the CWB as part of an omnibus bill in Parliament that some opposition parties will just let pass.
The other ag issue that might see some hope is trade action against the U. S. on its COOL legislation. Ag Minister Ritz made a promise during the election that the government would proceed if the U. S. implemented those regulations. Well its has, and we would look forward to some action by our government. But don’t hold your breath – Canada has a sorry reputation when it comes to initiating any trade action no matter how justified.
Canadian trade bureaucrats are known as the boy scouts of the trade negotiation business. They are loathe to attack foreign protectionism and subsidies and protect our trade position. I recall years ago when the EU was trying to flood the Canadian commercial beef market with highly subsidized Irish beef. The federal government did nothing. The only reason it was stopped was through the tremendous efforts of the CCA and countless thousands of dollars of producers’ money.
A new ag minister would probably delay any trade action against the U. S. and even a reappointed and chastised Mr Ritz would probably think twice about any action for fear of attracting any undue attention to himself.
There is an old saying – the day after revolutions, referendums and elections you have to get up and go to the same work.