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Canadian federal election: more and less of the same?

Although some of the ministers have changed, it looks like more of the same at a federal level.

Lyle Vanclief of Eastern Ontario is the new agriculture minister. Many of his assignments in the previous government supported the work of former AAFC minister Ralph Goodale. Preliminary word is that Vanclief is cautious and unlikely to take on anything controversial.

Goodale has been moved to Natural Resources, but retains responsibility for the Canadian Wheat Board, so no immediate changes are expected there.

Gilbert Normand, a Quebec physician, is junior minister for agriculture (and also fisheries and oceans). He apparently has little experience in these areas.

Although no immediate changes are anticipated with the agricultural portfolios, there are concerns about what priority environmental matters will receive in this Cabinet. Christine Stewart, from the Ontario riding of Northumberland, was appointed Environment Minister. Although Stewart is seen as competent and committed, the portfolio has been demoted to junior ministry status, following several years of higher profile ministers and seats at important cabinet committees.

Stewart will be up against experienced ministers and, according to Gary Gallon of the Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment, is likely to have difficulty attracting strong political staff to help her take on her less environmentally sensitive cabinet colleagues. Gallon also believes national unity issues will push environment and social policy matters to the back of the line.

Sustainable agriculture, which never received much serious attention from Goodale, is unlikely to get more from the new cabinet line up.

Copyright 1997. Ecological Agriculture Projects.

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