Meet the new federal ag minister

OTTAWA — After a long, hectic and chaotic day, Lawrence MacAulay should be forgiven for his brevity.

MacAulay, a Prince Edward Island MP, was sworn in as Canada’s new agriculture minister yesterday morning in Ottawa.

Following an afternoon cabinet meeting at the House of Commons, MacAulay took his turn at the microphone very late in the afternoon, at nearly 6 p.m.

He addressed the media for approximately 60 seconds.

He thanked the people of his riding and the people of Prince Edward Island for their support. He then spoke about his farming background.

“Being a dairy farmer and a seed potato grower from Prince Edward Island, I have some idea of what farming is all about,” he said, as a clutch of reporters listened in the House of Commons foyer. “But I have to be briefed. I just met my deputy minister a couple of hours ago.”

MacAulay retired from active farming when he became an MP for the riding of Cardigan in 1988. He has won nine consecutive elections and holds the record for the longest serving MP from P.E.I.

MacAulay has been in cabinet before, serving as labour minister and solicitor general.

Former ag minister Gerry Ritz had become a familiar figure to farmers and was known for his strong connections in the agri-food industry. MacAulay was asked if it will be difficult to establish a rapport with ag industry reps, since he’s replacing a senior minister in the former government.

“If you need to be senior, I’m senior,” said MacAulay, who is 69 years old. “I plan with to meet with my provincial counterparts. I’ve been contacted by industry officials from across the country…. Over the next few days I’ll combine my briefings with meetings (with) provincial officials and industry. I’m looking forward to it.”

MacAulay and other members of prime minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet were sworn in at Rideau Hall Wednesday morning. Thousands of Canadians lined the roadway to Rideau Hall, cheering and waving signs as Trudeau and the cabinet walked together to the swearing in ceremony.

Ralph Goodale, MP for Regina-Wascana and the only Liberal from Saskatchewan, was sworn in as minister of public safety.

Contact robert.arnason@producer.com

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