Reading the latest statistics about the urban-rural divide in Canadian politics the other day was a disappointment. It seems the split is becoming more pronounced. In Canada, our rural voters are becoming the mainstay of conservative votes while mostly urban voters are supporting the liberals. The trend has been obvious for many years. We never seem to learn.
My problem is that I go back to the days when the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) was led by Hazen Argue, a farmer from Saskatchewan. When the deal was made by Tommy Douglas and David Lewis to bring their new democratic party under the auspices of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), it lost much of its farm vote.
The liberals certainly tried to win the farm vote. The smartest move by Pierre Trudeau as prime minister was when he appointed my late friend Eugene Wehlan as minister of agriculture. Gene did more for farmers in Canada and around the world than any collection of conservative agriculture ministers had ever done. He was a strong advocate of supply management and worked hard to ensure that farmers had the benefits of advancements in technology.
And what is annoying today is that the conservative politicians take the farm vote for granted. They use them. When they wanted to keep my riding from voting liberal, it was a simple effort to convince the commission that did the rebalancing of ridings to gerrymander the Barrie ridings by splitting the city in two and adding a rural third to each of the riding’s voters. The closest we came was in the 2015 federal election which went to a recount.
I took part in that recount because I wanted to see what the impact was in the rural vs. urban vote. A nobody conservative won the riding by 86 votes. It proved out in a random recount of rural and urban polls that the conservatives would win the rural polls by a higher percentage than the liberals were getting in the urban polls.
It will be interesting to see who Justin Trudeau will choose for the agriculture portfolio in his new cabinet.
Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry
Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to: