Saskatchewan agriculture minister Lyle Stewart burned the brand to officially kick off the 45th Canadian Western Agribition in Regina Nov. 23.
Standing beside him was federal minister Lawrence MacAulay, recently appointed to the post and on his first official duty.
The two met for the first time earlier in the day to discuss some issues and get to know each other.
“He’s a very open individual and very much interested and concerned about agriculture,” said Stewart. “He’s on a very steep learning curve. Although he’s been a farmer and he’s stayed in contact with agriculture in Prince Edward Island, this is a little different form and he is keen to learn.”
At the top of Saskatchewan’s list of concerns are country-of-origin labelling and rail transportation.
MacAulay said the meeting was more a chance to meet and move to a first-name basis. He said his priority is to do what Agribition does — market and promote top quality Canadian agriculture and agri-food products.
Although the two represent different political parties, Stewart said he sees no problem with that.
“Our party was started by Liberals and Conservatives getting together,” he said. “I don’t see that as limiting in any way. His first concern is about agriculture and so is mine. We agreed to be as open as possible.”
MacAulay said he believes it’s best to operate that way.
“Nobody gets everything they want, but when you sit down and discuss the issues you’re able generally to work things out,” he said.
MacAulay didn’t say whether he is in favour of imposing retaliatory tariffs if the Americans don’t comply with a ruling, expected in December, that forces them to change their COOL law.
But he said the government expects countries to abide by the rules.
On the question of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, he acknowledged Canada is a trading nation.
“If anybody is pleased with TPP, please let me know. If you have difficulties with TPP, let myself know. I’m meeting with as many areas of agriculture as I can,” he said.
He was impressed with his first visit to Agribition, which he described as massive. He was particularly impressed with the youth participation and the number of schoolchildren who will visit the show.
“They’re going to understand what agriculture is all about and how important the agricultural sector is to our society and to the world,” he said.
MacAulay said Canada has the ability to provide the best quality food to growing markets.
“We can do it, we’re going to do it and we want to do it,” he said.
Agribition continues until Saturday. Parking on the grounds is limited because of construction, and visitors are reminded they can take the Agribition Express from either the Northgate Mall or Southland Mall.