Central Ontario MP named parliamentary ag secretary

Neil Ellis, shown here speaking in Belleville, Ont. in December 2018, is the new parliamentary secretary to Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau. (NEllis.liberal.ca)

A former Belleville, Ont. mayor will now play a backup role to the federal agriculture minister in the House of Commons.

Neil Ellis, the Liberal MP for the Bay of Quinte constituency in central Ontario since 2015, was named Thursday as parliamentary secretary for the minister of agriculture and agri-food, Marie-Claude Bibeau.

Ellis was a businessman in the area for almost 30 years and served two terms as Belleville’s mayor before entering federal politics. As an MP, he served as chair of the Commons standing committee on veterans’ affairs from 2016 up until just before October’s election.

Before boundary redistribution in the province, much of the Bay of Quinte riding was part of Prince Edward-Hastings, represented from 1988 to 2004 by Lyle Vanclief, who served as Jean Chretien’s agriculture minister from 1997 to 2003.

In a release Thursday, Ellis said he “looks forward to filling this familiar role to our community and will be happy to lean on Lyle and seek his expertise and advice on the file.”

The Bay of Quinte’s “key needs are still the same in this sector,” Ellis said. “We are always asking: how do we produce the best agri-food products, using the most efficient means? How can we keep our food and water sources safe? How do we optimize accessibility to these products and sustain existing or expanding markets?

“These are still the core questions that guide the work of our farming community members; and that of our standing committee on agriculture and agri-food… and also the department.”

Water agency

Also noteworthy for farmers on Thursday’s list of secretary appointments was the naming of Terry Duguid, MP for Winnipeg South since 2015, as secretary to the minister of economic development for Western Economic Diversification Canada — and to the minister of environment and climate change for the Canada Water Agency.

Among Duguid’s responsibilities, according to Prime Minster Justin Trudeau’s office, “will be to help advance the government’s commitment to create a new Canada Water Agency. The agency will work with the provinces, territories, Indigenous communities, local authorities, scientists and others to keep Canada’s water safe, clean and well-managed.”

Bibeau’s mandate letter, released Friday, also specifically called for her to support the Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson in the creation of the new agency.

Other parliamentary secretary appointments made Thursday of interest to farmers include:

  • St. Catharines, Ont. MP Chris Bittle, for transport;
  • Montreal MP Rachel Bendayan, for international trade;
  • western Newfoundland MP Gudie Hutchings, for rural economic development; and
  • Peter Schiefke, MP for the Quebec riding of Vaudreuil-Soulanges, for environment and climate change.

— Glacier FarmMedia Network

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