Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) president Dan Mazier resigned his position Friday so he can seek the Conservative Party of Canada’s nomination for MP in the Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa in western Manitoba.
“I would like to acknowledge my sincere appreciation to all the (KAP) staff, executive, board and the members of KAP who have offered support and guidance as we worked through many policies in order to assure that Manitoba farmers’ voices have been heard by our elected officials,” Mazier wrote in his resignation letter Friday. “It has been truly a privilege to serve as KAP’s president.”
Mazier farms near Justice, Man., which is in the Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa riding now represented by Conservative MP Bob Sopuck.
Sopuck announced May 7 he wouldn’t run in the next federal election, which is set for Oct. 21, 2019, unless the government calls one sooner.
Mazier is in his fourth and final year as KAP president. His term was up at the end of the year.
KAP’s bylaws allow its board of directors to appoint a president if the incumbent is unavailable. It has two vice-presidents: Bill Campbell of Minto and Jill Verwey of Portage la Prairie.
The association’s next board meeting is July 31.
“I never ever thought I’d be running for MP,” Mazier said Friday. “I often felt sorry for MPs. I saw how they got caught between party… at times they seemed conflicted.”
But Mazier said he changed his mind after being asked by three or four party members to consider seeking the nomination.
Mazier said they pointed to his farm policy experience, network of contacts and name recognition.
“I am interested in policy,” Mazier said. “I’ve always been hardwired that way, I guess.”
But Mazier acknowledged partisanship isn’t his strong point. KAP is explicitly non-partisan since its job is representing farmers to elected officials of all parties and governments.
Mazier took that role so seriously he wasn’t a member of any political party, including the Conservative Party of Canada.
Party politics in recent years has become chippier. Asked how he’ll handle that if elected, he said: “I will stay true to myself. I will criticize the policy and stay away from the personal stuff. I’ll debate ideas and policies all day long.
“I think that’s what people want to see. I think they’re getting kind of tired of it (personal attacks).”
If Mazier, 54, wins the nomination and election, he expects to leave farming.
“I see this as a career change,” he said. “I’m an all-in type of person.”
Mazier has a lot of ideas to pursue if elected, including getting better cellular and internet service for his riding.
“I am so tired of hearing ‘I don’t have cell phone coverage or I don’t have rural infrastructure for internet,'” he said. “I want a cable, fibre optics going to every community in my constituency. Full stop. I don’t care what that it takes, especially this constituency. It’s so remote and rural.”
Water regulations, land-use and the environment are also top priorities, he said.
As for highlights while at KAP, Mazier says it was the people.
Another was being part of the coalition that helped get Bill C-49, the Transportation Modernization Act, passed into law.
“Getting those amendments, just watching the whole industry and all the different farm groups actually working together under a coalition,” he said.
Agriculture has often been divided on issues, Mazier added. “We have definitely moved forward as far as trying to understand each other as an industry in different commodity groups.”
KAP has always prided itself on co-operating with others, he said.
“We were not going to take our ball and go home…” he said. “We always try to have that conversation, as awkward as it might be… if we agree to disagree that’s OK, but where are the common points? That strategy has served us well over the four years.”
Mazier also served four years as a KAP vice-president and served almost two years as a school trustee.
Several other KAP leaders have pursued party politics, including Manitoba Progressive Conservative MLAs Ian Wishart (2011-present) and Jack Penner (1988-2007), as well as Marlene Cowling, who served as a Liberal MP for Dauphin-Swan River (1993-97).