Is a new finance minister a renewed opportunity for agriculture? – RealAgriculture

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Opinion

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.”

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.

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.



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