A major component of the Canadian system of federalism is the annual meetings of ministers responsible for their designated portfolios.
When the federal Minister of Finance meets with his or her colleagues, the level of public scrutiny is exceptionally high. Decisions around business and personal taxes are sometimes completed at these events however in the current environment, in which the federal minister and many of the provincial ministers do not belong to the same political party, the meetings can be extremely short and everyone goes home early.
After Finance, Canada’s health ministers draw the highest level of attention. The current national debate on pharmacare is expected to emerge as a priority for all parties in the upcoming election campaign and will likely remain unresolved after the vote. The finance ministers will ultimately make the decision on how much of their taxpayers’ money can support this program.
Meetings of agriculture ministers do not generate the media attention of their finance or health colleagues. An internet search of coverage for the 2019 meeting from July 17 to 19 in Quebec City produces one or two articles, with nothing from the major urban outlets that many analysts believe drive the national political agenda.
One report from Quebec City did note that Ottawa is working out the details of a financial compensation package for dairy and poultry farmers originating from a series of international trade deals. Most notably, federal minister Marie-Claude Bibeau indicated she hopes the money will be available before the election this fall. Federal cheques being sent before an election have long been considered an effective and important campaign strategy.
The week before the 2019 meeting, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs announced that Guelph will be hosting the ministers in 2020. According to their news release, the focus will be expanding the national agri-food sector along with highlighting Guelph and Ontario’s emergence as a worldwide hub for research.
What the release omits is that since the meeting will be in Ontario, there will be protestors. The subject is anybody’s guess.