Grande Prairie – Mackenzie MP Chris Warkentin has been named to interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose’s shadow cabinet. He will be the new critic for Agriculture and Agri-food, a fitting position as he grew up on a farm and has experience in the industry. Warkentin argues that the federal cabinet ministers are “very city-centric” with a limited knowledge of farming and rural life.
“We’re going to have our work cut out for us educating the new government on the needs and priorities of farmers. You can’t have a farmer without rural like and rural life really doesn’t exist without farm families, so it really is dual purposes that I’ll be undertaking and I look forward to doing it alongside many of my colleagues.”
Those include Peace River – Westlock MP Arnold Vierson who will be Rural Affairs critic, and Bob Zimmer, rep for Prince George – Peace River – Northern Rockies in B.C., who will be the Families, Children and Social Development shadow minister.
Since elected in 2006, Warkentin has sat on several committees, and was Chair of the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Committee from 2011 to 2015. He says he found out his appointment last week, and is already watching out for new regulations and red tape.
“We’ve heard them call for the possibility of a carbon tax, which would drive up the cost of inputs for farmers that we’re very concerned about. We’ve also heard about new and burdensome paperwork and reporting that the government is suggesting that farmers should undertake.”
Warkentin also stresses the need to get products to market by modernizing infrastructure.