An angry crowd of about 200 made up mainly of dairy farmers switched the agenda on Agriculture Minister and Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay when he came to Kaylee Hall in Pooles Corner Friday afternoon to announce $3.5 million government spending on Island roads.
Mr MacAulay was met in the parking lot by placards, questions, microphones and cameras and one dairy cow before quickly heading into the hall. He was forced to shout the details of the road work to be funded 50/50 by the federal and provincial governments during his first public appearance here since the USMC trade deal was completed last week.
Supporters heckled the minister relentlessly on the further 3.5 per cent access the deal gave US dairy farmers as one of the concessions of having the deal accepted by the United States Trump administration.
Transportation Minister Paula Biggar assured the crowd Minister MacAulay would answer questions and address their concerns.
When Mr MacAulay attempted to leave the hall without responding to questions, he was politely but firmly requested to take a seat by a dairy farmer so members of the farming community could tell him how hard the further trade concessions would affect their ability to keep their dairy farms viable.
“Leaving our future in the hands of the politicians is not working,” said Kensington farmer Deanna Doctor, who referred to the USMC as “a deal with the devil,” which, added to previous trade deals and leaves 18 per cent of the Canadian market to the US dairy industry.
Ms Doctor urged Canadian consumers to support the domestic dairy industry by buying Canadian dairy products.
The new concessions could be the “final nail in the coffin” for his dairy operation, said Glengarry producer Daniel MacDonald of Glendairy Holsteins.
He urged Minister MacAulay to “do the right thing. Don’t support the deal. As Canadian Agriculture Minister don’t support your portfolio; support our cause.”
As a visibly shaken Minister MacAulay made a swift departure from the hall without addressing the crowd again, his exit was delayed by farmers anxious to be heard. He left soon after with Minister Biggar and Montague-Kilmuir MLA Allen Roach.
Kings Detachment RCMP were on hand but their assistance was not required.