In the spirit of shining a light on key issues prior to the October 21 election, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) played host to the Agricultural Leaders’ Debate on September 24. The event was moderated by Reuters economics reporter Kelsey Johnson.
Questions covered the three key benefits that Canadian agriculture provides to Canada as outlined in CFA's Producing Prosperity in Canada campaign: economic growth, food security and environment stewardship. Questions also touched on chronic labour issues, risk management programming, China and more.
China and trade disruptions
Conservative Agriculture Critic Luc Berthold questioned Minister Bibeau on how the government "dragged its feet" to provide support for farmers in light of the trade disruptions around canola, beef and pork. He noted Canada could also put pressure on China by halting support for the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank.
Minister Bibeau reiterated how the government had just recently appointed an ambassador to China, and had requested a bilateral consultation at the WTO to attempt to solve the current crisis.
NDP Agriculture Critic Alistair MacGregor acknowledged how historically China has enacted punitive trade actions in response to political issues, and that care needed to be taken when dealing with them.
All candidates other than the Green party candidate acknowledged the importance of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in filling positions where Canadians are not available. The NDP and Liberal debaters agreed that pathways to citizenship should be introduced for these workers.
MP Berthold noted that the Conservatives had not unveiled their platform on labour at this time but it would address significant labour issues.
This topic led to a heated discussion between candidates on their differing views on the topic.
Source: Canadian Federation of Agriculture September 24, 2019 news release