The government’s "excessive red tape" and a lack of commitment to infrastructure are a few of the concerns Progressive Conservative Opposition Leader Brian Pallister says he hears from Manitoba farmers.
"We’ve heard serious concerns expressed about a lack of commitment to … drainage, to road maintenance and improvement," Pallister said. "These are areas that are very high priority for us."
While in Brandon Wednesday, Pallister spent time at Manitoba Ag Days and took the opportunity to speak with reporters about agriculture issues.
"In many parts of the ag economy in this province, I think we just need to get the heck out of the way and let the farmers and their families create wealth and create opportunities," he said. "I think too often government thinks it has to inject itself when maybe that isn’t necessary."
Pallister said agriculture is the "heart and soul" of Manitoba’s economy, and is pleased to see the "vibrant optimism" that comes from events like Ag Days.
"Agriculture is central to our success in the future, as it’s always been in the past," he said.
Pallister also discussed his concerns surrounding the NDP’s push to outlaw cosmetic pesticides.
"Other provinces to the east of us have taken an approach that Manitoba may want to follow … the dangers of that approach are evident," Pallister said. "You see in Ontario, playing fields, sports fields, infested now with broad leaf weeds, dandelions and so on. The only way to get them out is dig them out in the absence of cosmetic pesticides."
Pallister said community clubs would be looking at installing costly artificial turf.
"From an agricultural standpoint, I’m always concerned when I see an unscientific approach taken in legislation," he said. "Canada has a system in place under Health Canada’s leadership that is respected around the world by scientists and by people who understand these issues."
Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh has said the province could see restrictions on harmful cosmetic pesticides as early as this year.
Pallister said he wants to see the details of the province’s plan.
"The government has only given us general comment at this stage … If they’re going to a radical environmental approach, then we’re going to be opposing it," he said.
» firstname.lastname@example.org, with files from the Winnipeg Free Press