Ontario’s horticultural leaders have been active in lobbying all candidates on two key issues: labour and energy rates. Whatever the outcome on June 7, growers will be watching in the next few weeks on who will be assigned to key ministries that have influence on agriculture.
Peterborough-Kawartha. Jeff Leal, the current Ontario minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, is the Liberal incumbent in this urban-rural riding. He’s also minister responsible for small business. Since 1977, voters in this bellwether riding have successfully elected a member of provincial parliament (MPP) to the government.
York-Simcoe. Caroline Mulroney, daughter of former prime minister Brian Mulroney, is seeking the Conservative seat in this urban-rural riding that includes the Holland Marsh, a rich area of muck soils for growing root vegetables. She has been door-knocking since last September and has met several times with area growers. The Conservatives have held this seat since 2007.
Niagara Falls. Wayne Gates is the incumbent in this riding for the NDP. The riding includes Niagara-on-the-Lake, a prime district for tender fruit and grapes.
Haldimand-Norfolk. Toby Barrett has held this rural riding for the Conservatives since 1995. He is the official Conservative opposition critic for the ministry of agriculture, food and rural affairs. On the north shore of Lake Erie, this riding is known for its plentiful production of asparagus, tart cherries, ginseng, field peppers, pumpkins, strawberries, squash and zucchini.
Chatham-Kent-Leamington. Rick Nicholls is the Conservative incumbent in this riding that includes many field, tender fruit and greenhouse crops around Chatham, Leamington, Tilbury and Blenheim.
Timiskaming-Cochrane. John Vanthof is the NDP incumbent in this northern riding. He’s the official NDP opposition critic for the ministry of agriculture, food and rural affairs. Should the NDP win the election, would he be a candidate for the ag minister’s portfolio? He’s been in the shadow role since 2011.
On June 1, the Christian Farmers’ Federation released a blog titled “The Power of the Rural Vote.” Rural ridings have voter efficiency in their favour. It takes fewer voters to elect a candidate than in urban ridings. The article quoted Bruce Kay, an associate professor of political science at the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy. He notes that opinion polls are far less accurate than in the past: “Participation in opinion polls has fallen to less than 10 per cent of those contacted from 75 per cent 40 years ago.”