This week there was a small cabinet shuffle that will prove very impactful on how Canada steers through the remaining COVID-19 economic challenges. Chrystia Freeland was sworn in as finance minister after the resignation of Bill Morneau. With such a big change at the most senior levels of the cabinet it may create an opportunity for agriculture.
I have heard from several sources over the last twelve months that Bill Morneau was a real road block for agriculture. On several occasions I was told that Morneau’s office was a real challenge to convince of funding requirements for agriculture. One person very familiar with industry asks during COVID-19 relayed to me that minister Bibeau was onside but she had been “stonewalled by Bill.”
Good opportunity to change the conversation
— Stewart Skinner (@modernfarmer) August 18, 2020
If its true that Morneau has been our challenge and not minister Bibeau, a fresh face in the finance office is worth a little optimism. Although Freeland has little career financial expertise, I believe its worth the effort of the agriculture lobby to re-hash some old and new asks with the minister.
As the shining star in the Liberal government amongst a very thin bench, Freeland has the following connections to agriculture.
- grew up on a farm in northern Alberta
- negotiated the new NAFTA deal which included key agricultural components
- was the minister of intergovernmental affairs which included serious talks on rectifying western alienation with Alberta premier Jason Kenney
When I mentioned this opportunity on RealAg Radio earlier this week, I would say the audience adamantly disagreed with me but I still hold firm in my opinion. Some thought I was being naive, overly optimistic and one person thought my brain had melted due to the heat.
…CF gave away a huge concession on dairy & would have thrown it out if she could have…
— Scotty MacSqueezenickel (@PleasantPork) August 18, 2020
Like a farmer, a lobbyist has to be optimistic, unrelenting and unwavering in their efforts no matter the resistance and adversity against their efforts.
There is going to be a fall run of economic stimulus related to the more green shades of the economy and agriculture needs to find a place in these funding announcements. Whether its is grain based ethanol, carbon sequestration payments, or waivers on specific carbon tax items, agriculture has much to address with Agriculture and Agri-food minister Bibeau and finance minister Freeland.
Time will tell if minister Freeland is a better listener than Bill Morneau.
Very optimistic. Like you say, time will tell. Fortunately the sector is pretty healthy as we stand today, nothwithstanding all the asks, so hopefully “government support” continues to not be needed, generally and relatively speaking, for the sector.
— J.Fransoo (@JasonFransoo) August 18, 2020