Thanking Gerry Ritz for his service
Last week, a proud son of Saskatchewan and hard-working public servant announced his retirement from public life. Saskatchewan will miss the Hon. Gerry Ritz. He is a good friend and I very much enjoyed working with him on behalf of Saskatchewanians and all Canadians.
Gerry made the lives of Canadian farmers better and brought about the structural change needed to make agriculture a profitable and lucrative career for Canadians young and old. The marketing freedom that he secured for wheat and barley, in addition to the many trade agreements that he helped negotiate, enabled young entrepreneurs to embrace agriculture again.
I remember sitting with Gerry in the Senate Gallery, watching the passage of the Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act, knowing that Saskatchewan grain farmers were about to experience the same freedom as farmers in other parts of the country. No longer would grain farmers go to jail for donating their grain to 4H groups in North Dakota, nor would they lose ownership of their wheat and barley crop as soon as it was harvested. Following the vote, Gerry and I shook hands to celebrate our victory. It was one of the greatest moments of my political career.
Because of Gerry’s leadership as Minister of Agriculture, the marketing of western grain entered the 21st century. Thanks to his leadership, the combined value of all wheat and canola now exceeds $11.6 billion. To quote Grain Growers of Canada President Jeff Nielsen, farmers can now manage their farms better with the same control over their wheat marketing as with all their other crops, and they can take advantage of opportunities denied to them inside the bureaucratic and policydominated confines of the monopoly.
It was an honour to serve Canadians alongside Gerry. His public service has truly made Canada a better place to raise a family and earn a living. I wish him all the best in his retirement and thank him for everything that he has done for farmers both here in our home province and across Canada.