Conservatives look to southern Ontario for new ag critic

O'Toole promotes deputy critic Lianne Rood to first chair

Southwestern Ontario MP Lianne Rood will be the federal Conservatives’ new agriculture critic. (Video screengrab from

The federal Conservatives’ new leader has gone to the other side of Toronto to find his new critic for agriculture and agri-food.

Lianne Rood, the rookie MP for the riding of Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, was named Tuesday by fellow southern Ontario MP Erin O’Toole to replace southwestern Alberta MP John Barlow as the Conservatives’ shadow minister for agriculture.

Rood, who held the riding for the Conservatives in last October’s election following the retirement of former Commons ag committee chair Bev Shipley, had served since December last year as Barlow’s deputy critic on the ag file.

Rood, who studied criminology and sociology at the University of Windsor, is no stranger to federal ag policy, having worked as a political staffer for then-prime minister Stephen Harper’s government for six years.

After university she worked for Shipley, and later as a special assistant for then-agriculture minister Gerry Ritz, and for Saskatchewan MP David Anderson during his stint as parliamentary secretary for agriculture.

Rood is credited by the Conservatives as having helped at that time to develop Ritz’s Bill C-18, the Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act, which in 2012 deregulated the Canadian Wheat Board’s single marketing desk for Prairie wheat and barley.

Rood was also raised on and continues to be involved in the operation of her family’s potato farm at Grand Bend, Ont., about 70 km northeast of Sarnia.

“The past several months have been difficult for all of Canada and the agriculture industry is no different,” Rood said in a release Tuesday. “Agriculture is vital to this country and our food security has to be a top priority.”

Rood had backed O’Toole in his campaign to replace Andrew Scheer as the federal Conservatives’ leader. Barlow, a supporter of runner-up Peter MacKay in last month’s leadership race, was dropped Tuesday from the Conservatives’ shadow cabinet.

Among other Conservative critic posts of interest to farmers, British Columbia MPs Tracy Gray and Dan Albas will handle the international trade and environment files, respectively; Ontario MPs Michael Chong and John Nater, foreign affairs and rural economic development, respectively; and Calgary MP Stephanie Kusie, transport.

Quebec MP Luc Berthold, who served as Conservative ag critic from 2017 to 2019 and had also backed MacKay’s leadership bid, was named Tuesday as O’Toole’s shadow minister for the Treasury Board. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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