Canola meets Ottawa in busy November advocacy dayNovember 16, 2016CCGA Government RelationsOn the first of November, canola representatives from across the country came to Ottawa. Over the course of the day, board and staff of the Canadian Canola Growers Association (CCGA) and Canola Council of Canada held 22 meetings with Members of Parliament (MPs) and hosted an evening reception. These meetings are an excellent opportunity for politicians of all parties to hear firsthand the issues that are important to canola farmers, along with the rest of the canola sector. Members of Parliament get a chance to speak to those directly impacted by what programs and policies are put in place.This year, the major policy areas discussed were transportation, trade, environment, biodiesel, the agriculture policy framework, and innovation. In addition to talking with MPs in person, CCGA also left policy sheets for government officials to take with them. These outline farmer issues in detail, and can be read here:CCGA one-pager on Rail TransportationCCGA one-pager on TradeCCGA one-pager on Canola BiodieselThe plan when meeting with MPs Choosing which MPs to visit is based on a two-prong approach. First, it’s about connecting MPs with people and businesses in their riding. For canola, it’s connecting with MPs where canola is grown, and those with grain handling, processing, and manufacturing facilities in their ridings. Second, it’s about connecting with MPs that have a portfolio relevant to canola. Think here about transportation, trade, and innovation. Not just Ministers either, but also members of Standing Committees whose job is to study these issues. Meeting with MPs that have canola interests in their riding is key. They are elected to represent their constituents and are best placed to advance issues that impact their own ridings. It is important for MPs to know if there have canola crushing facilities in their riding, or that canola is a significant source of income for their constituents. When MPs are equipped with the right information about their ridings, they can represent their constituents’ interests better in the House of Commons. On November 1, we included in our visits many MPs that have farms and crushing plants in their riding.The other facet of CCGA’s government relations plan to help farmers succeed is meeting with MPs that have a relevant portfolio. Our priorities, whether that be a fair and efficient rail transportation system, open and stable trade, or strong on-farm safety net programs, need to be heard by the right person. Some MPs may not have canola in their ridings, but do sit on a House of Commons committee that is related to one of our priorities. These committees often do the “heavy lifting” in studying key issues, and thus benefit from input from all affected parties. On November 1, we met with MPs and staff of Ministerial offices that work on our priority areas. We made sure they understood what policies are working and what could be improved going forward and that we took the time to listen to them. For these meetings, it is also important to explain the importance of the canola sector to trade, jobs and the economy. Along with a successful day of meetings on Parliament Hill, CCGA wrapped up the day hosting a joint reception with the Canola Council of Canada. With approximately 100 people in attendance, MPs, Senators, friends of the industry, and departmental officials had a chance to connect, update themselves on the happenings of the canola industry, and enjoy some canola inspired food. Overall, it was a successful day for canola in Ottawa.