Ag committee gets down to business

The House of Commons standing committee on agriculture was scheduled to meet Feb. 18 to choose a chair and begin its work after last fall’s federal election.

The 12-member committee includes six Liberals, four Conservatives, one New Democrat and one Bloc Quebecois MP.

Three MPs are returning to the committee, including the former chair and Liberal member Pat Finnigan (Miramichi-Grand Lake, New Brunswick), Liberal Francis Drouin (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, Ontario), and NDP agriculture critic Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, British Columbia).

New agriculture critic Conservative John Barlow from Foothills in Alberta, who also sat on the committee at one time, is back after a stint at international trade.

Two of the members are from the Prairies: Barlow and Gerald Soroka, newly elected in Yellowhead (Alberta).

Soroka is a farmer who was involved in local politics and served on the Alberta Forage Council.

The other Conservative members also have agriculture and rural connections.

Richard Lehoux defeated Maxime Bernier in Beauce (Quebec) and is a former president of the Federation of Quebec Municipalities. He is an agricultural entrepreneur, according to his biography, with a strong interest in rural economics.

Lianne Rood was also newly elected in Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, the Ontario riding held by former committee chair Bev Shipley, who didn’t run again. Rood grew up on a vegetable farm and worked in the Harper government, including with former agriculture minister Gerry Ritz, Shipley, and former critic David Anderson when he was a parliamentary secretary for agriculture.

On the Liberal side, Finnigan operated a greenhouse operation and is known in New Brunswick as Mr. Tomato. Drouin has a commerce degree but also the experience from the last few years of agriculture committee work.

Lyne Bessette is a rookie Quebec MP who represents Brome-Missisquoi. She has a science degree and was a professional cyclist, competing in two Olympic games and several world championships.

Also a rookie, Kody Blois is from Kings-Hants, in Nova Scotia, and holds degrees in commerce, law and public administration.

Neil Ellis was first elected in 2015 to represent Bay of Quinte. Previously, he was a businessperson and mayor of Belleville, Ont., for eight years.

Tim Louis was also first elected in 2015 and represents Kitchener-Conestoga (Ontario). He was a business owner and professional musician before entering politics.

Bloc MP Yves Perron defeated former NDP agriculture critic Ruth Ellen Brosseau in the riding of Berthier-Maskinonge. The former teacher is now the Bloc’s agriculture critic.

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