Most federal parliamentarians with experience in the agriculture and agri-food portfolio will be back in the House of Commons under a new majority Liberal government.
As of Tuesday morning, prime minister-elect Justin Trudeau’s Liberals were elected or leading in 184 of 338 seats, for a decisive majority following Monday’s federal election. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives return to opposition, elected or leading in 99 seats.
Thomas Mulcair’s New Democrats are demoted to second opposition, elected or leading in 44 seats, followed by the Bloc Quebecois in 10, and the Green Party, whose leader Elizabeth May hung onto the party’s lone seat.
The Liberals, who’d had just 34 seats after the 2011 election, will return to power with a largely rookie caucus, but their returning veterans carry years of experience on the agriculture file.
Ralph Goodale, the Liberals’ agriculture minister from 1993 to 1997 and minister for the Canadian Wheat Board from 1993 to 2003, easily held his riding of Regina-Wascana on Monday night by a spread of more than 10,000 votes over the Tories’ Michael Kram.
Goodale, who’d started his federal political career in 1974 as a rookie MP for then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau, returned to Regina in 1986 as leader of the provincial Liberals. He rose through cabinet during the Chretien administration and handled the finance file during Paul Martin’s short stint as prime minister (2003-06).
Paul Martin’s parliamentary secretary for agriculture and agri-food will also return to Ottawa. Wayne Easter, the MP for the Prince Edward Island riding of Malpeque since 1993, easily held his seat by a 10,003-vote margin over Tory candidate Stephen Stewart.
Easter, who led Canada’s National Farmers Union (NFU) for 11 years before entering politics, was the parliamentary ag secretary from 2003 to 2006. On the opposition benches, he served as the Liberals’ critic for agriculture and the CWB (2006-11) and for international trade (2011-13).
The Liberals’ incumbent agriculture and agri-food critic since 2013, Nova Scotia MP Mark Eyking, also returns to the Commons, handily winning his riding of Sydney-Victoria by over 24,800 votes over NDP contender Monika Dutt.
Eyking, who with his wife Pam farmed and earned the Outstanding Young Farmers of Nova Scotia award before he entered politics, also served as Martin’s parliamentary secretary for agriculture and agri-food (2003-04) and for international trade (2004-06). On the second opposition bench, Eyking also served as critic for foreign affairs (2007) and rural affairs (2010-11).
Among other files of interest to farmers, the Liberals’ critic for international trade, Toronto MP Chrystia Freeland, will return in the redrawn riding of University-Rosedale, while their transport critic, David McGuinty, held his riding of Ottawa South.
The Conservatives head back to the opposition with most of their bench strength on the agriculture file intact, led by their incumbent agriculture minister Gerry Ritz.
Ritz on Monday easily held his western Saskatchewan riding of Battlefords-Lloydminster by a spread of more than 14,600 votes over NDP challenger Glenn Tait, a grain farmer involved in both the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission and the NFU.
Other Tory MPs well known for their work on the ag file will also return to the Commons on the opposition side, among them southern Ontario MP Bev Shipley (Lambton—Kent—Middlesex), the incumbent chair of the Commons’ standing committee on agriculture.
Previous ag critics and standing ag committee members such as Larry Maguire (Brandon-Souris, Man.), Blake Richards (Banff—Airdrie, Alta.), Bob Zimmer (Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, Alta.), Larry Miller (Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, Ont.), Earl Dreeshen (Red Deer—Mountain View, Alta.), David Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Sask.) and Randy Hoback (Prince Albert, Sask.) will also return for the Tories.
Harper’s minister of state for small business, tourism and agriculture (2013-15), veteran Quebec MP Maxime Bernier, also held his riding of Beauce by a spread of more than 20,000 votes over Liberal contender Adam Veilleux. Former parliamentary ag secretary (2006-07) Jacques Gourde held his riding of Levis-Lotbiniere by a spread of almost 18,000 votes over the Liberals’ Claude Boucher.
Tory MPs who lost their seats Monday include former parliamentary ag secretary Pierre Lemieux (Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, Ont.) and former New Brunswick ag minister Rodney Weston (Saint John-Rothesay, N.B.).
The Tories’ incumbent transport minister, Lisa Raitt, held her southern Ontario riding of Milton; the party’s incumbent minister for international trade, Ed Fast, also hung onto his B.C. riding of Abbotsford.
NDP critics out
Monday’s election also cost the federal New Democrats their lead agriculture critic. Malcolm Allen, who had represented the Niagara-area riding of Welland since 2008, lost in the redrawn riding of Niagara Centre by over 2,300 votes against Liberal contender Vance Badawey.
Pat Martin, the veteran NDP MP for Winnipeg Centre since 1997, who served as critic (2011-13) and assistant/associate critic (2007-11) for the Canadian Wheat Board, was also unseated, losing by a spread of almost 9,000 votes against Liberal contender Robert-Falcon Ouelette.
The NDP’s remaining caucus, while light on experience in the agriculture file, still includes its incumbent deputy ag critic. Ruth Ellen Brosseau, who won the riding of Berthier-Maskinonge as a rookie for the NDP in 2011, held the riding Monday night by almost 9,000 votes over Bloc Quebecois contender Yves Perron.
Don Davies, the NDP’s critic for international trade, hung onto his riding of Vancouver-Kingsway on Monday night; the party’s transport critic, Toronto MP Olivia Chow, lost her riding of Spadina-Fort York to Liberal contender Adam Vaughan.
The Bloc Quebecois, while also light on ag experience in its slightly larger new caucus of 10 MPs, still includes veteran Louis Plamondon, a former Progressive Conservative MP who helped found the Bloc in 1991 and served as its ag critic briefly in 2004.
Plamondon, who sat on the Commons standing ag committee for the Tories (1984-86) and again for the Bloc from 2002 to 2004, easily held his riding of Becancour-Nicolet-Saurel against Liberal contender Claude Carpentier by a spread of over 8,000 votes. — AGCanada.com Network
Tagged agri-food, agriculture, Bloc Quebecois, Conservatives, election, Gerry Ritz, Liberals, Malcolm Allen, Mark Eyking, NDP, Ralph Goodale, Ruth Ellen Brosseau, Wayne Easter