In a leadership race finale that stretched well into the early hours of August 24th, Erin O’Toole emerged victorious.
O’Toole, Member of Parliament for Ontario’s Durham riding, succeeds Andrew Scheer as Conservative Party leader. He defeated party co-founder Peter MacKay on the third ballot.
Leslyn Lewis, who received the most votes in the majority of rural ridings in Western Canada, surprised many with her strong third place finish, while Derek Sloan dropped off the ballot after the first round of votes were counted.
The question now for the farm community will be how O’Toole manages the agriculture portfolio. The platform he campaigned on focuses on food security and resiliency in order to withstand future issues and opening up new markets, while protecting supply management. It also includes a plan to end the current carbon tax.
The new leader’s agriculture platform did not vastly differ from the other candidates’, but highlights include (from O’Toole’s website):
- Respecting supply management for dairy and poultry, and ensuring that farming families are engaged in any trade negotiations on programs that impact the sector;
- Ending the Liberal carbon tax, which is driving up farm input costs like diesel fuel, natural gas, fertilizer, transportation and electricity;
- Supporting more agriculture research and harmonization of farm product regulations with trading partners, especially the U.S.;
- Ensuring farm safety net programs are “predictable, bankable, and manageable”;
- Implementing a plan to tackle rural crime and ensure that farm families feel safe;
- Developing policies with community stakeholders to facilitate the transfer of family farms from parents to their children;
- Amending existing laws in order to allow livestock owners to use local slaughterhouses, reducing both stress to the animals and the production of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from transportation to distant facilities;
- Recognizing the critical environmental stewardship provided by Canadian farmers and examine public good recognition for the positive impacts they have on wetlands conservation, carbon sequestration, reforestation, species protection and maintaining pollinator habitat.
- Launch a national Alternative Land Use Systems pilot to examine positive incentives for environmental stewardship by farmers.;
- Protect food supply by implementing a food security strategy including redirecting some federal agricultural research funding, to partnering with the private sector to develop methods to grow more crops in Canada year round in greenhouses;
- Launching programming to build clusters of greenhouses by funding infrastructure and cutting the red tape to get them built quickly;
- Reassessing all federal regulations concerning the labelling of food products to ensure that both their contents and country of origin are clearly identified.
O’Toole is well-known in the Ontario agriculture community, and seemed to be the frontrunner for the province’s farmers.