Leaders talk farming at east Ontario agricultural event
Published Tuesday, September 20, 2011 5:54PM EDT
Provincial party leaders each converged on the rural east Ontario community of Chute-a-Blondeau Tuesday to try their hand at plowing and turn their attention to rural issues.
The three men and one woman vying to be premier rode in the parade for the International Plowing Match before climbing aboard a tractor of their own.
Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty rode a red tractor and pointed to his party's risk management program as one favourable to farmers.
"I've been making calls to our rural candidates, former MPPs included, and getting a good sense of what's happening out there, and we're doing very well," said McGuinty.
"One (reason) is because we've got this great program called risk management that introduces stability and bankability and predictability, the single most important issue to the family farm."
Progressive Conservative leader (and driver of a blue tractor) Tim Hudak said his party is promising a more comprehensive business risk management program.
NDP leader Andrea Horwath rode an orange tractor and said her party had a plan to help young farmers get started.
Some of the thousands of people at the festival said they want a premier who pays attention to agricultural issues.
"The farmers and all of them are very interested to see them and hear what they have to say," said one woman.
"If you say it, do it," said Wally Biernacki. "Don't say it if you're not going to do it, life's too short for that crap."
McGuinty said he's aware wind turbines are unpopular in some rural areas, but he's confident farmers can earn extra cash by applying for the green energy program.
Also on the agenda was an issue familiar to federal politics – a coalition.
With polls showing no party is pulling ahead, leaders said a coalition government wasn't in their plans.
"I think we need to wait and see how people vote on Oct. 6," said Horwath. "There's a lot of time between now and then, my focus needs to remain on the people of this province."
"(There's) 16 days to go," said Hudak. "We're going to keep hammering away, getting our message of change out there."
McGuinty and Horwath headed to Kingston after finishing their day at the festival, which was Hudak's last event of the day.
With a report from Catherine Lathem and files from The Canadian Press