Anderson named federal Tories’ ag critic in shuffle

Longtime CWB critic and Prairie farmer to handle ag file

David Anderson
Southwestern Saskatchewan MP David Anderson (centre), shown here last year visiting Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's research facility at Swift Current, is the federal Tories' new agriculture critic. (DavidAnderson.ca)

A vocal critic of the former Canadian Wheat Board single marketing desk for Prairie wheat and barley is now the lead agriculture critic in Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.

David Anderson, the MP for the southwestern Saskatchewan riding of Cypress Hills-Grasslands since 2000, was named Thursday as the Conservatives’ critic for agriculture and agri-food by interim Tory leader Rona Ambrose.

As the Tories’ ag critic, Anderson replaces Grande Prairie, Alta. MP Chris Warkentin, who Ambrose named Thursday as the party’s deputy house leader and question period co-ordinator, replacing Kingston, Ont. MP Scott Reid.

Anderson, Ambrose said Thursday, “has the energy and experience to ensure the concerns of Canadian producers are heard.”

Anderson will face the Liberals’ agriculture minister, Prince Edward Island MP Lawrence MacAulay, when the House of Commons resumes sitting on Monday after summer break.

Before entering federal politics, Anderson farmed at Frontier, Sask., about 170 km southwest of Swift Current, and earned a degree in political science from the University of Regina and a masters of divinity at what was then Canadian Theological Seminary, also in Regina.

First elected as a Canadian Alliance MP, Anderson was that party’s associate critic for agriculture, behind southern Manitoba MP Howard Hilstrom in the lead chair. He also served as critic for the CWB, a portfolio he also handled after the Alliance’s 2003 merger into the Conservatives.

During the Conservatives’ run in government, Anderson sat as parliamentary secretary for the CWB from 2006 to 2013, later moving to the secretary post on the foreign affairs portfolio.

When the CWB’s single desk was deregulated in 2012, then-prime minister Stephen Harper hailed Anderson in a speech as having “long fought hard for marketing freedom for his fellow farmers.”

Harper also credited Anderson with spearheading the move for formal pardons for Prairie farmers charged with violating the federal CWB Act. Winnipeg-based CWB was privatized last year and rebranded as G3 Canada.

Since the Liberals’ return to government last year, Anderson has been the federal Tories’ opposition critic for human rights and religious freedom.

Ambrose’s shadow cabinet shuffle on Thursday followed the departure of Regina MP Andrew Scheer from the Tory house leader’s post. Scheer said Tuesday he was resigning from the house leader position to “explore the possibility” of a Tory leadership bid.

Ambrose replaced Scheer as Tory house leader with Candice Bergen, the MP for the south-central Manitoba riding of Portage-Lisgar. Bergen, until now the critic for natural resources, was replaced on that file by Chilliwack, B.C. MP Mark Strahl. — AGCanada.com Network

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