Food security and affordability top food-related election issue, survey suggests

Canadians may not be optimistic about agri-food becoming a primary topic for the upcoming election, but they are thinking about some perhaps surprising agriculture and food-related issues.

A survey of 1,524 Canadians, conducted Sept 9 by Angus Reid Global and Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab, looked to gauge Canadians’ opinion on where they ranked agriculture and food issues as priorities for the October 21st federal election.

“Barely 31 per cent of Canadians actually think that agriculture and food will be a primary topic during this election, unfortunately,” says Dalhousie University’s Sylvain Charlebois, in an interview on RealAg Radio, adding Quebec’s expectations are slightly different, at up to 46 per cent.

When asked more specifically, which agri-food issues deserve more attention during the campaign, respondents ranked the top three as:

  1. Food security and affordability – three out of five Canadians believe this to be one of the most important issues for the upcoming election;
  2. Use of plastics in food – 54 per cent of respondents believe this to be an important electoral issue; and
  3. Food waste – 61 per cent of Quebecers and 45 per cent of Atlantic region believe this to be an important issue.

Other issues that followed included: Northern communities; supply management and quota; global agri-food and trades; taxing food with high sugar content; and labour shortages in agri-food.

So far, few of these issues have hit the campaign trail.

“All I’ve heard so far are the Greens telling us that we need to eat local, more often, and the Bloc a couple of days ago said to the entire country that ‘we care about supply management,’ but that’s it,” says Charlebois.

Respondents were also asked which national party is best positioned to support the agri-food sector, and while 42 per cent were unsure, the remaining respondents made some interesting choices.

“The Conservatives are actually the number one choice for all regions in the country – all of them, not just the Prairies or B.C., all of them,” says Charlebois.

Following the Conservatives, respondents ranked Liberals second; the Green Party third; and both the People’s Party of Canada and New Democratic Party fourth.

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