One of the busiest people in agriculture may be Senator Rob Black.
The Ontario senator seems to be everywhere these days talking to everyone on a host of issues. Earlier this month, Black’s sponsored bill to establish Food Day in Canada received unanimous support at third reading in the House of Commons. The first official Food Day in Canada will be celebrated this year on August 5.
RealAgriculture’s Bernard Tobin caught up with Black while he attended a Syngenta Canada open house at Guelph last week. In this interview, the Senator shares insights on the impact the Senate can have on Canadian agriculture and specific policy issues he believes his colleagues in the upper house should focus on to ensure sustainability and growth in agriculture.
The most pressing issue is right now, Black feels, is the passage of Bill C-234 — the private member’s bill that would remove the federal carbon tax from natural gas and propane used on farms. The bill has received final approval at third reading in the House of Commons and is currently working its way through the Senate.
“I’m still hopeful that we’ll be able to see it passed before the end of June if all goes well,” says Black. “The sponsor has spoken to it at second reading. I’ve spoken to it… we’re waiting on the critic to speak before it can be sent to committee,” he notes adding that he expects the bill will then go to the Senate Ag Committee as well as another committee.
See Related: Bill C-234 heads to the Senate
“If we can get it through, we can get it passed before the end of the end of June,” says Black. “But every day that it sits waiting for the critic to speak is another day that it’s not going to pass.” (Story continues after the interview.)
Black says he’s eager to see the results of a new Canadian soil health study that he championed in the Senate — a process that took four years with work on the study beginning last fall. Next on his priority list for agriculture is the need for innovation. He also feels the Senate could be an effective voice for supporting greater food security as well as land use protection.
“I have to keep in mind that land use planning is a provincial jurisdiction issue,” says Black. “So it’s a fine line, but raising the issues of food security — that’s federal, that’s national, it’s international — and we need to think about that.”