By ABBAS RANA
PUBLISHED : Monday, April 17, 2017
With the national electoral landscape dominated by urban ridings, the new executives of the 54-member Liberal rural caucus are vowing to use “all the tools at our disposal” to make sure rural issues are on the national agenda and considered in all decisions.
“We’ll use all the tools at our disposal to champion the issues important to rural Canadians, whether it’s meeting every week or one on one conversations, or group meetings that rural caucus members are very good at meeting collaboratively on issues that are important to their constituents,” said rookie Liberal MP T.J. Harvey (Tobique-Mactaquac, N.B.), who was elected as the chair of the rural caucus last week.
Mr. Harvey said he and other caucus executives will work on key challenges that rural Canadians face on a daily basis, including economic development, infrastructure, good-quality middle class jobs, agriculture innovation, high-speed internet, trade issues, forestry, and softwood lumber.
To promote these issues, rural Liberal MPs will lobby cabinet ministers and invite them to rural caucus meetings to provide feedback on specific government legislations and policies, caucus executives said.
For the other executive positions, the rural caucus chose rookie Liberal MPs Will Amos (Pontiac, Que.) and Marc Serré (Nickel Belt, Ont.) as vice chairs, and David Graham (Laurentides-Labelle, Que.) as treasurer. Theses positions were filled by consensus.
In an interview with The Hill Times, Mr. Amos vowed to ensure that the Liberal government pays close attention to rural issues.
“It’s very important that our small communities, our small towns know that they have significant support in this Liberal government,” said Mr. Amos.
He said the government has, so far, performed well on rural issues, and he wants that to continue.
“That’s our role within the rural Liberal caucus to ensure that the executive of the Liberal government pays very close attention and places a rural lens in the development of all its policies and programs, its budgets, and legislative initiatives.”
Mr. Serré, who is also the chairman of the northern Ontario Liberal caucus and a member of the indigenous caucus, said he’s excited to assume his new responsibilities. He said that the conversations the rural caucus would have in the coming months are very similar to the ones that he’s having in the northern Ontario and indigenous caucuses.
“I’m really happy to be able to navigate between the three and bring some of the issues forward better,” said Mr. Serré.