Farmers Concerned about Part-Time Minister

“Wynne needs to realize that if agriculture is to survive in Ontario it does indeed need a full time Agricultural minister and one that is definitely in tune with where agriculture is and how important it is to the province.”
Eastern Ontario Farmer

WOODSTOCK – Today Ernie Hardeman, Oxford MPP and PC Critic for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, said that he has heard from farmers from all across Ontario this week that are concerned about Premier Wynne’s decision to be a part-time Minister of Agriculture.

“We have hundreds of different commodities here in Ontario, understanding their issues as well as the food processing industry requires a lot of time,” said Hardeman. “I’ve heard from farmers in Niagara, the Greater Toronto Area, Southwestern, Northern and Eastern Ontario who all expressed concern that the job of Agriculture Minister could not be performed part-time.”

Hardeman received the emails and calls from farmers following his February 11 open letter to Premier Wynne expressing reservations about her decision to serve as both Premier and Agriculture Minister and requesting a meeting to discuss agriculture issue. To date there has been no reply.

“Given the challenges the Premier needs to address, such as the $14 billion deficit, she will not have sufficient time to focus on the agriculture industry,” said Hardeman. “From my time as Minister of Agriculture I know that you need time to travel across the province to talk to farmers and meet with the different organizations to ensure you understand their concerns.”

A professional Agrologist wrote in his email: “I know from my experience working with Mr. William Stewart, Mr. Jack Riddle, Mr. David Ramsey, Mr. Elmer Buchanan and other agriculture ministers, that this responsible position requires full-time representation and long hours of work 7 days per week.”

The emails that Hardeman received were from farmers in a number of different commodities including: beef, pork, dairy, chickens, sheep, apples, plums, grapes, asparagus, onions, potatoes, sugarbeets, corn, soybeans, canola, ginseng, strawberries, maple syrup and flowers.

“The common theme in the messages is that Agriculture Minister requires a full-time commitment,” said Hardeman. “Some farmers were quite upset that they felt her decision to be a part-time Minister showed she didn’t understand or value the industry.”

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For more information, contact:
Ernie Hardeman, MPP Oxford
(416) 325-1239