Supply management enters campaign

The final slate of hopefuls hasn’t been determined but one contender for the Conservative Party of Canada leadership has already announced he would dismantle supply management.

Rick Peterson, president of Peterson Capital in Edmonton, who also ran in the last leadership contest, issued a statement Feb. 28 saying there is “nothing Conservative about supply management.”

“Government interference in free markets always costs Canadians money,” he said. “Supply management hurts our ability to negotiate trade deals like CUSMA. Every single Canadian pays when government gives bailouts to the dairy industry.”

His position contrasts with that of current leader Andrew Scheer and at least three of the other leadership candidates.

Marilyn Gladu, the first to release a policy platform, said she supports “a strong agriculture industry by supporting supply management,” as well as promising a comprehensive review of risk management programs.

Gladu is an engineer who has been an MP since 2015.

Erin O’Toole, current MP and a candidate in the previous race that saw Scheer elected, has maintained his support for the sector, as has Derek Sloan. Sloan is a rookie MP who, like Scheer, used a carton of milk to illustrate his position during an all-candidates meeting in last fall’s general election.

But Peterson said the system costs Canadian families an extra $500 or more each year, on average. He said 90 percent of Canadian farmers don’t operate under supply management and still prosper. And, he noted that the number of dairy farms has dropped from more than 100,000 to about 11,000.

He said a fair transition away from supply management is the way to go.

Other candidates have yet to make their positions known.

Eight people have met at least the first of three requirements of the leadership race, including Peterson, Gladu and Sloan. They, Rudy Husny, who works in Scheer’s office, Leslyn Lewis, a lawyer and former CPC candidate, and Jim Karahalios, also a lawyer, have all submitted $25,000 of the required $200,000 registration fee and at least 1,000 membership signatures of the required 3,000.

O’Toole is considered an authorized contestant, meaning he has submitted another $25,000 of the registration fee, the entire $100,000 compliance deposit and another 1,000 member endorsements.

Peter MacKay, the longtime MP, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and deputy CPC leader until 2015, has met all the requirements and is a verified candidate.

The candidates who haven’t met all the requirements have until March 25 to do so to be on the June 27 ballot.

People who want to vote for the new leader must be party members by April 17 to be eligible.

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