Fruits & Votes spotted in Quebec!

Anything like this will surely catch my eye.

A politician in an orchard. This is hard to beat!

The article also has interesting angles in Party Personnel and federalism. The politician profiled is André Lamontagne, currently the Quebec Minister of Agriculture for the government of the Coalition Avenir Québec. In his pre-political career Lamontagne was, among other things, a supermarket owner. He is referred to in the article as “a rare minister interested in how food is processed and sold, rather than just how it’s grown.”

He is currently deeply involved in federal–provincial–territorial (FPT) bargaining over a better deal for food suppliers, touched off by fees imposed by Walmart that trade association Food Health and Consumer Products of Canada called “diabolical“. Other big companies in the food retail business sought to join suppliers to initiate policy changes that would lead to a code of conduct for how much grocery chains could charge suppliers for “for a range of perks or infractions, including product promotions and penalizing late or incomplete shipments.”

Implementing such a thing, however, was a bit harder, even as political pressure mounted. Conservative agriculture critic Lianne Rood repeatedly asked about the subject in question period, but the government determined a code was out of federal jurisdiction, since regulating terms of sale is a provincial issue.

…The thought of 10 different regulations stretched across a national food supply chain wasn’t appealing, so [federal] agriculture minister [Marie-Claude] Bibeau suggested the federal government could help coordinate a more coherent response across the country.

To do that, the feds needed a provincial ally to help champion the issue through the FPT.

Minister Lamontagne says, “For me, it was very easy to understand what was happening,” given his background. So he became that provincial ally. His involvement in this issue thus offers a mini-case study in how parties might harness the prior experience of their politicians to advance a given policy reform, as well as a good case of the role of federalism in the political economy of food.

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