Candidates debate ag issues — finally

Those who have lamented the lack of discussion on agricultural issues during the federal election campaign will get their chance to see first-hand how the key figures in each party see the way ahead.

Glacier FarmMedia, of which The Western Producer is a division, is co-sponsoring an ag debate organized by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture on Sept. 30 in Ottawa.

The two-hour debate, which will be conducted in front of an audience, will be broadcast live on the CFA’s website, starting at 11 a.m. The next day, the video replay will be available on The Western Producer’s website (

The panelists will be Conservative Gerry Ritz (who served as the agriculture minister), the NDP’s Malcolm Allen (who was the agriculture critic), Liberal Mark Eyking (who was also an agriculture critic) and Bruce Hyer, who served as the deputy leader of the Green Party. The BQ has been approached to participate, but no member has yet been identified.

The debate will be moderated by Andrew Campbell, a farmer and broadcaster from Ontario.

The format is straightforward. Each candidate gets three minutes to outline their position, after which they’ll be asked to answer seven questions, five in English and two in French. Each candidate gets two minutes to respond, followed by a four-to-five minute open debate among themselves.

In my experience, that last part is usually quite interesting because it can be freewheeling, and candidates can have a go at each other’s positions.

The Western Producer’s political writer Karen Briere will be at the debate, bringing readers coverage and context.

Questions put to the panelists will focus on the areas of research, labour, careers in farming, environment, risk management, trade and what has become known as “social licence”, given the increasing interest in how food is produced.

This will be important for farmers. It’s the one time when each party must address issues in their own voice, rather than putting out a platform and moving on.

We hope you’ll join us, either live on Sept. 30 on the CFA’s website, or on The Producer’s website for the replay the following day.

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