Ontario’s provincial Progressive Conservatives have brought back a former agriculture critic in a shuffle of their shadow cabinet as the legislature returns to work.
Toby Barrett, the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk since 1995 and Tory ag critic from 2005 to early 2008, has been renamed as critic for agriculture, food and rural affairs, replacing Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman (agriculture) and Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece (rural affairs).
The agriculture, food and rural affairs portfolio had been split until last month’s election with Premier Kathleen Wynne as ag minister and Jeff Leal handling rural affairs. Leal was named last month as the Liberal government’s minister for the full agriculture, food and rural affairs file. [Related story]
Hardeman, a former ag minister (1999-2001) and critic (2003-05, 2008-14) moves to the municipal affairs and housing portfolio, opposite former ag minister Ted McMeekin. Pettapiece becomes critic for government and consumer affairs and seniors’ issues.
Barrett is a partner in his family’s farm near Port Dover, on Lake Erie about 50 km southwest of Hamilton, and has a master’s degree from Ontario Agricultural College and a degree in economics from the University of Guelph.
Barrett taught high school agriculture and environmental science and also worked for the Ontario Addiction Research Foundation for about 20 years before entering politics in 1995.
He served at the junior level in then-premier Mike Harris’ cabinet as parliamentary assistant to the minister for environment (1999-2001) and natural resources (2001-02), then as parliamentary assistant to the minister of agriculture and food (2002-03) during Ernie Eves’ stint as premier.
Since then, Barrett has served in critic portfolios including environment (2003-05, 2008-11), community and social services (2011-13) and consumer services (2013-14).
The provincial New Democrats, meanwhile, return to the legislature with their previous agriculture, food and rural affairs critic, John Vanthof.
Vanthof, the MPP for Timiskaming-Cochrane since 2011, operated a dairy and crop farm near Earlton, about 180 km north of North Bay, from 1984 to 2012. He also served on the board of Dairy Farmers of Ontario and is a past president of the Temiskaming Federation of Agriculture. — AGCanada.com Network