Canadian Political Parties Food and Agriculture Policies Differ Widely
Canadian politics is not quite as divisive as it is south of the border. Where I live, the sitting Liberal member, Mario Silva (the party has held the seat for 40 years) has supported environmental initiatives, but is doing the job part time as he does a doctorate at the National University of Ireland. The Conservative is a nice lady who doesn't have a chance in this riding. The Green candidate is good old Wayne Scott, hero of cyclists everywhere. The NDP Candidate is Andrew Cash, a musician and journalist. Really, they are all conscientious and intelligent candidates, and would not look out of place together with a beer, listening to the Beauties.
But at the party level, there are significant differences. As we all know at TreeHugger, food has become very political, and it shows in the platforms. The Globe and Mail summarizes some of the major points:
The ruling Conservatives take, well, a conservative position. Their strength is in rural Canada and the wheat fields of the West, so they support new export markets over local food initiatives.
"Whatever it is that drives the best return to a farmer," said former agriculture minister Gerry Ritz. "It could be a portion of the food market, it could be a portion of the fuel market. ... It's all part and parcel of delivering quality, consistent supply of foodstuffs domestically and internationally."
The Opposition Liberals are promoting healthier living with education programs, improved labelling, and controls on trans fats and sodium.
Rewards for farmers who set aside land for wildlife habitats or carbon sequestering; quadruple clean-energy production.
The New Democratic Party has been doing their homework on the food politics file; according to the Globe and Mail:
- Belief that access to and sustained production of healthy food is critical to Canada's future. New labelling laws will help consumers identify healthy foods and genetically modified ingredients.
- Educate students on how to produce and prepare nutritious foods.
- Boost support to Canadian producers and local food networks by supporting farmers' markets, agriculture co-operatives and alternative regulation for small-scale operators.
And one can't help but love the Green Party platform:
- Reward farmers for switching to organic production methods; strengthen Canadian organic standards; implement strict monitoring of pesticides.
- Expand domestic food production and procurement with "200-kilometre diet" promotion; expand farmers' markets and culinary tourism, rooftop gardens, urban agriculture and seed banks.
- Reform agricultural regulations "to challenge corporate concentration;" reform farm income supports; encourage grocery retailers to make shelf space for local foods.
More in the Globe and Mail, who deserve credit for digging through these policy documents to filter this stuff out.
UPDATE: The Tyee does a much longer, detailed analysis of the different food policies. See Food Now on Plate for All Federal Parties