Excerpted from a recent story in the Owen Sound Sun Times, by Jim Algie:
“Everybody’s been very nice about Carol Mitchell’s new job as Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. And why not?
It would be churlish to react otherwise. The two-term Huron-Bruce Liberal MPP has added her first full portfolio to a nine-year legislative career marked by signs of Premier Dalton McGuinty’s growing confidence. There have been successive parliamentary assistantships to ministers of health, public infrastructure and municipal affairs. In 2007, Mitchell took over as chair of the Liberal caucus.
Even her Conservative colleague, the irascible Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Murdoch, reacted graciously on a personal level to news of Mitchell’s late January appointment. Being Bill, however, and being an MPP with much the same political background as Mitchell, Murdoch risked his
reputation for manners by taking the occasion of her appointment to make a point about the challenges facing Ontario’s new minister of agriculture.
Most local comments have been warm and friendly, much like the statement of Bruce County Federation of Agriculture President Lorne Underwood, who is reported to have said: “There’s nothing like having the minister of agriculture in your own back yard.” Ontario Cattlemen’s Association president Gord Hardy described Mitchell as potentially “a great champion for agriculture in Ontario.”
The riding Mitchell represents is among the most productive agricultural regions of the province. Unlike so much of Ontario, Huron-Bruce remains a place where farmers hold a preeminent role in a predominantly rural community.
Murdoch wished Mitchell well but predicted she’ll “have a tough time getting farm issues…”
“….Mitchell must know that Premier McGuinty’s appointment comes with potential pitfalls for someone in her position. It’s not just the continuing financial struggle among livestock farmers, rising farm debt and an aging farm population. There’s the challenge from Grey County dairy farmer and raw milk crusader Michael Schmidt to the supply-management system that has helped isolate dairy and poultry farmers from financial troubles elsewhere in agriculture.
A recent provincial offenses court decision allows Schmidt to remain in business processing and distributing milk in defiance of existing regulations under the provincial Milk Act. There are crucial political complexities in this decision which undoubtedly will force a response from Mitchell’s ministry sooner rather than later….”