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Manitoba Tories name new ag critic

A cattle feeder turned MLA from Manitoba’s Red River Valley will be the province’s new opposition critic for agriculture, food and rural initiatives.

Tory leader Hugh McFadyen on Wednesday named Blaine Pedersen, the MLA for what’s now the Midland constituency, as ag critic, replacing Emerson MLA Cliff Graydon.

Pedersen, who hails from Elm Creek, spent over 30 years in the cattle feeding business before becoming the MLA for what was then the Carman constituency in 2007. He was the critic for rural initiatives, lotteries and gaming before last October’s election.

Graydon, a grain grower and Charolais breeder who was also re-elected Oct. 4, was shuffled Wednesday in McFadyen’s shadow cabinet to become critic for co-operative development, lotteries and gaming.

McFadyen, who plans to step down as Tory leader after the party’s leadership convention on Oct. 27 next year, said the shuffle will allow the party’s five newly-elected MLAs to contribute to the shadow cabinet "while more experienced members of caucus continue to focus on established responsibilities."

Among the new MLAs is Portage la Prairie’s Ian Wishart, the former president of Manitoba’s general farm group Keystone Agricultural Producers, named Wednesday as the critic for water stewardship.

Also new to the shadow cabinet is Reg Helwer, the MLA for Brandon West, former president of the Canadian Agri-Marketing Association and partner in Shur-Gro Farm Services. Helwer will be the critic for Manitoba Hydro, Manitoba Public Insurance and Brandon-specific issues.

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