Liberals name new ag critic in shadow-cabinet shuffle

A Nova Scotia vegetable grower turned federal politician is the newest agriculture and agri-food critic for the federal Liberals.

Party leader Justin Trudeau on Wednesday shuffled his shadow cabinet, moving Mark Eyking, the MP for Sydney-Victoria since 2000, to the ag portfolio. Eyking replaces Guelph MP Frank Valeriote, who becomes deputy whip.

Eyking, 52, and his wife Pam — now a Nova Scotia provincial Liberal candidate (Victoria-The Lakes) — operated a vegetable farm for 20 years and were named the Outstanding Young Farmers of Nova Scotia in 1990.

Eyking worked on international ag development projects in Central America and chaired the Cape Breton Federation of Agriculture before his entry into federal politics.

As an MP, Eyking served as a member of the Commons standing committee on agriculture and agri-food from 2001 to 2011, including a stint as vice-chair (2009-11). In then-prime minister Paul Martin’s government, Eyking also served as parliamentary secretary to the minister of agriculture and agri-food with special emphasis on agri-food (2003-04).

On the opposition side, Eyking’s previous critic portfolios have included, among others, rural affairs (2010-11), foreign affairs (2007), small business (2007-08), the Canadian International Development Agency (2007, 2008-09) and, most recently, international co-operation (2008-09, 2011-13).

Among other Liberal shadow cabinet posts of interest to the agri-food sector, Montreal MP Marc Garneau becomes Trudeau’s critic for foreign affairs and international trade; Ottawa MP Mauril Belanger takes the co-operatives portfolio; and Scarborough MP John McKay takes the environment file.

Among the unshuffled, Vancouver MP Hedy Fry remains health critic, while Ottawa MP David McGuinty remains transport critic. Regina MP and former ag minister Ralph Goodale remains deputy Liberal party leader. — Network

Related story:
Liberals name Guelph MP as ag critic, June 1, 2011

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