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KAP Refuses To Sanction Ag Ministers

Discontent with federal and provincial agriculture ministers failed to translate into policy at Keystone Agricultural Producers annual meeting last week.

Delegates defeated two separate resolutions criticizing federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives Minister Stan Struthers.

The first accused Ritz of behaving “in a manner, which is less than mature, less than informed and unbecoming of a federal minister of agriculture.”

It called on KAP to ask the Conservative government to ensure Ritz act “responsibly and is knowledgeable about, and sympathetic to modern farm practices.”

The second resolution charged that Struthers implemented “various legislative and regulatory policies that were anti-farming and anti-progress” while minister in his previous portfolio of Conservation.

It demanded Struthers “disclose his mandate, goals and objectives” as MAFRI minister, adding the province should ensure his mandate “is compatible with the objectives of KAP and in the best interests of Manitoba farmers.”

The resolutions came from KAP’s District 1 in the southwest corner of Manitoba. Delegate Glen Franklin of Deloraine moved both motions.

Franklin said Ritz last year showed poor judgment during a listeriosis outbreak at a Maple Leaf Foods meat plant in Ontario when he appeared more concerned about political fallout than human health.

Franklin also reminded the meeting that Struthers enacted a controversial hog moratorium bill during his previous tenure in Conservation. Bill 17 banned new and expanded hog operations in the central, eastern and Interlake regions on environmental grounds.

“What might he do in Agriculture?” asked Franklin.

But other delegates called both resolutions inappropriate.

Ernie Sirski of the Manitoba Canola Growers Association said it was better to criticize ministers privately than in public. “Don’t air this dirty laundry,” said Sirski.

Weldon Newton, a former KAP president, urged delegates to defeat the resolutions, calling them counterproductive to KAP’s lobbying efforts.

“This is not the way to open doors on Broadway,” Newton said.

Both resolutions were overwhelmingly voted down.

Later, Laurent Pellerin, Canadian Federation of Agriculture president, was heard to say the resolutions would have passed easily in his home province of Quebec.

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