A government’s policies and the politics of governments are linked, both at the surface and at their depths.
Good policy is formed to meet the needs of the citizens who elect their governments.
Good politics are measured solely by observing eyes and coloured by red, blue or orange filters.
As the federal government’s omnibus agriculture bill grinds its way through Parliament, I can’t help but ask myself: is it good policy for the farmers I know, or is it simply advancing the overall agenda of a government?”
There is good news in Bill C-18. Wearing my gray tinted glasses, I have observed some sensible farm policy discussions in the House of Commons and the Senate.
I have often heard parliamentary committee members and their witnesses provide well measured and crafted discourse about the large bill. And at the Senate, I have seen the ag committee exhaustively examine issues such as pollinator health.
However, at times I have also watched as the government advances a political agenda without apparent regard for most of the farmers it will largely serve.
I have also seen either an absence of opposition from witnesses or a near fawning at committee meetings by some agricultural lobbies. This is in apparent support of both party and policy.
As well, ruling party caucus members seem to have a need to invoke the “marketing freedom” slogan, or some derivative of it, that the federal minister of agriculture chanted during the dismantling of the Canadian Wheat Board’s marketing monopoly, despite its irrelevance.
In Ottawa, the giving season is now upon us. No, not Christmas, election. Next year we will head to the federal polls, so no matter what colour your glasses are, you will be asked to contribute to fund the hustings.
It might be a good time, while your wallet is open, to start to ask candidates for details about their agricultural platform. Consider your contribution carefully, especially if they can’t answer to your satisfaction and they wear glasses of a colour you find pleasing.
That is the strongest form of lobbying that I know, and it might be the last chance you get before they come back to open your purse in more meaningful ways.