Last month, Conservative Party of Canada leader Andrew Scheer announced his new shadow cabinet. He put MP Luc Berthold representing the riding of Megantic-L’Erable, Quebec and associate MP John Barlow from Foothills, Alberta in charge of the agriculture and food file. Interesting that he placed two shadow ministers to manage agriculture – one from the east and one from the west.
The Grower took the opportunity to reach out to both of their offices to provide comment on a couple of key issues facing our sector. Mr. Berthold and Mr. Barlow took a moment during their summer cacus retreat in Winnipeg to draft responses to the following questions. We recived the responses from Mr. Berthold himself, not one of his staff. He graciously offered to make himself available for further comment if needed. You can see their responses to our questions below:
Q1. Do you support the seasonal agricultural worker program (SAWP)?
A1. Yes, the Conservative caucus supports this program, because it is critical to the sustainability of the agriculture industry. However, the seasonal agricultural worker program should only be accessible for producers when Canadians are not available to fill those jobs. We encourage them to always look for Canadians to fill job vacancies, however, we understand producers can, at times, have difficulty filling these important temporary positions, especially during busy times like seeding and harvest.
Q2. Do you support the creation of a Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) like tool for farmers in Canada?
A2. The Liberals failed to deliver on this campaign promise. Once again, they create hope for our agricultural producers and let them down. We will look closely at this proposal when we return to Ottawa and discuss this with our caucus. We also want to meet with stakeholders and discuss the benefits and implications of this potential legislation.
Q3. What is your stance on the proposed changes to federation taxation and how this will impact family farms that are incorporated?
A3. We are adamantly opposed to the proposed tax changes being pushed on farmers and ranchers by the Liberal government. Imposing a federal carbon tax, elimination of the deferral of cash purchase tickets and now these devastating tax changes, which will make it harder and more expensive for farmers to pass on their operation to their children, the Liberals are clearly showing the agriculture sector is not their priority and they are putting their deficit on the backs of rural Canadians.
Q4. What are key priorities in the agriculture sector that you feel the government should be focusing on?
A4. We have just started consulting with our stakeholders, but the fact Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has placed two Members as Shadow Ministers on the Agriculture file shows this is a priority for the Opposition. We already know, from listening to our farmers, ranchers and agri-businesses tax reform, NAFTA and trade are among our top priorities this fall.