Don Mazankowski receives Companion of the Order of Canada

Former federal Conservative agriculture minister and deputy prime minister Don Mazankowski has been awarded Canada’s highest civilian honour.

On Dec. 30, governor-general David Johnston announced that the former long-time Conservative MP will be elevated to status as a Companion of the Order of Canada.

He has been an officer since 2000.

Mazankowski, a former northeastern Alberta farmer and farm equipment dealer in the Viking area, served as a Progressive Conservative MPs from 1968 to 1993.

He was deputy prime minister to Brian Mulroney and served as agriculture minister from 1988-91 before being promoted to the finance portfolio.

The 25-year MP from Vegreville was responsible as agriculture minister for insisting that provinces begin to pay more of the share of farm program costs.

A biography published by Agriculture Canada in 1997 says Mazankowski was trade oriented, overseeing implementation of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and supporting multilateral trade negotiations.

It made his less than three years in the portfolio sound like a precursor to the current agenda of agriculture minister Gerry Ritz, who represents a Saskatchewan riding across the border from Mazankowski’s former turf.

“Mazankowski reversed the interventionist tendencies of previous subsidy programs,” it said. “He aimed for a market-driven approach to agriculture policies that focused on adding value.”

In 1989, he oversaw publishing of a “vision for Canada’s agri-food industry” in the 1990s that stressed self-reliance, market dependence, regional diversity and environmental sustainability.

As he prepared to retire from politics in 1993, then-prime minister Mulroney elevated him to the highest political level in Canada by naming him to the Queen’s Privy Council with the title Right Honorable.

Mazankowski has served on many corporate boards and as a business law consultant to the firm Gowling Lafleur Henderson in Calgary since he retired from politics 20 years ago.

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