After most political party leadership contests, there’s some speculation and odds-making in the agriculture community about who the new leader is going to appoint to the agriculture portfolio.
Following Pierre Poilievre’s decisive first-ballot victory in the Conservative leadership race on Saturday, there’s a clear and familiar frontrunner for the agriculture critic post: Foothills MP John Barlow.
Barlow is well-versed with the position and agriculture-related issues, having served in the role under both Erin O’Toole* and Andrew Scheer before that. He also endorsed Poilievre early on in the race, and was referenced by Poilievre in the context of the Liberals’ fertilizer emissions reduction policy, a regularly-featured topic in the new CPC leader’s speeches.
It would be a surprise if Barlow is not reappointed to the shadow ag minister post, but if he’s given a higher-ranking role, there are other Conservative MPs who endorsed Poilievre who also have agricultural ties or backgrounds, including former rancher James Bezan, and former Keystone Agricultural Producers president Dan Mazier.
Luc Berthold, who has previously served as the CPC ag critic, did not endorse any leadership candidate in his role as deputy leader. Ben Lobb, who’s currently sponsoring a private member’s bill to exempt on-farm uses of fuel from the carbon tax, also did not announce any endorsement.
Meanwhile, Barlow’s Conservative colleagues on the House of Commons’ ag committee — Dave Epp, Ted Falk, and Richard Lehoux — are also familiar with ag issues, but endorsed other candidates, limiting their chances of being named to the shadow cabinet. (Epp and Lehoux endorsed Jean Charest, while Falk supported Leslyn Lewis.)
Poilievre’s camp has not said when they will name the shadow cabinet. The House of Commons was scheduled to resume sitting on September 19, but it will be delayed one day to accommodate Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral.
*Erin O’Toole initially chose Lianne Rood to serve as shadow ag minister, which was likely related to the fact Barlow had supported Peter MacKay in the leadership race against O’Toole.