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Ritz Returns, Outsider Named To Transport Post

The return of Gerry Ritz to the agriculture portfolio was welcomed by many farm groups, although they’re still trying to get a handle on some new faces in cabinet posts that impact farming.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture “and its members are eager to continue working with Minister Ritz,” said president Ron Bonnett.

“We believe his experience and his relationship with the CFA will ensure we work together in developing a strong and effective suite of agricultural policies and programs,” said Bonnett, although he added “the government had promised to listen to farmers when it comes to determining the fate of the CWB.”

Grain Growers of Canada president Stephen Vandervalk welcomed the upcoming end to the Canadian Wheat Board’s single desk. He said he also wants Ritz to work in support of a better research program for Canadian field crops, continued aggressive trade and market access negotiations for Canada’s export commodities, swift action on rail service, and improved farm supports.

Ritz’s past efforts were praised by Canadian Cattlemen’s Association president Travis Toews.

“Ritz has worked tirelessly to improve market access for Canadian cattle, beef and other agricultural exports and we appreciate his efforts,” he said.

The president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada was pleased with Ritz’s pledge to support supply management.

“As negotiations to reach a deal at the WTO continue, dairy farmers are mindful that the government has opposed the provisions in the latest draft text that would have a negative impact on the supply-managed industries; potential losses have been estimated at $1 billion for Canadian dairy farmers alone,” said Jacques Laforge.

Among the new ministers that farm leaders need to get to know are Quebec’s Denis Lebel, who survived the NDP avalanche in Quebec and is now minister of transport and infrastructure, and Industry Minister Christian Paradis, who doubles up as minister of state for agriculture, replacing the defeated Jean-Pierre Blackburn.

Little-known Ed Fast from British Columbia was named minister of international trade, which puts him in charge of key negotiations such as the Canada- Europe free trade deal, the Trans- Pacific Trade Pact, and stalled WTO negotiations.

Tony Clement is now president of the Treasury Board and will lead the government effort to find spending cuts.

Steven Fletcher from Winnipeg is the new minister of state for transport replacing Rob Merrifield, who had been minister of state.

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