Conservative sweep of rural ridings poses some questions for Liberal government

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By Dan Rankin
According to a formula devised by FarmersForum.com, of the 25 federal ridings in Ontario with population densities under 100 people per square kilometre, the Conservative Party walked away with 22 of them. That’s an 88 percent success rate, even better than the 10 out of 14 ridings in Saskatchewan or 29 out of 34 ridings in Alberta the Conservatives also won in their traditional power bases.
Newly-elected Perth-Wellington Conservative MP John Nater said he thinks the values of the Conservative Party “reflect the values of people in Perth-Wellington and rural Ontario.”
“The values of hard work, service, support for communities, and the value of a low-tax, strong economy that keeps a budget balanced,” he said. “Those types of issues really resonate with the values of rural Ontario, so they certainly saw fit to send a number of rural Conservative MPs to Ottawa, and I look forward to joining my counterparts across the country in fighting for those values.”
Thus, most of the 184 seats Prime Minister Designate Justin Trudeau won, including at least one from every province and territory in the county, come from urban centres – but not all of them. As Trudeau works on assembling his cabinet, speculation has begun over who he will appoint to the agriculture portfolio as parliamentary secretary and agriculture minister. Popular potential choices include Quebec MP for the riding of Brome-Missisquoi Denis Paradis, whose family owns a vineyard, Nova Scotia MP Mark Eyking, who currently sits as the party’s agriculture critic, former National Farmers Union President and P.E.I. MP Wayne Easter, and former Minister of Agriculture Ralph Goodale, who has been an MP in Saskatchewan since 1993.
Some major issues affecting the country’s agriculture industry Trudeau and his pending cabinet will be expected to address in a timely fashion include the Trans Pacific Partnership and the American policy of country-of-origin labelling (COOL) that requires producers and processors to identify where an animal is born, raised and slaughtered. Canada’s red meat sector estimates the policy costs them $1 billion annually. A final decision on COOL from the World Trade Organization is expected late next month. If the WTO were to side with Canada, the federal government would be permitted to impose retaliatory tariffs totalling in the billions of dollars against American exports such as beef, pork and wine. Such a decision might prove counter to Trudeau’s stated intention to improve US-Canadian relations. But deciding not to impose them could cost him some of the few friends he’s got in agriculture.