There’s a federal election! The person elected to represent you and your riding will have opportunities to shape public policy and legislation at the federal level over the next four years.
We often think of food as a local issue, but food-related policies and programs are an important part of federal action.
While some responsibilities are shared across different levels of government, the federal government plays a key role in shaping our food systems, including how our food is produced (agriculture, fisheries, labour, environmental protection), how food is part of our economy (trade, businesses, jobs), and how food connects to our health and wellbeing (access to healthy foods, healthy eating).
Recently, the federal government announced the first-ever Food Policy for Canada “Everyone at the Table,” with priorities relating to improving access to healthy food, making Canadian food the top choice here and abroad, supporting food security in Northern and Indigenous communities, and reducing food waste.
During this election, consider the food issues that matter to you and explore how candidates and parties are proposing to tackle those issues. The election period offers important opportunities for citizens and potential elected representatives to connect. Here are a few suggestions.
We have several political parties in Canada representing a range of views on many different issues. You may be surprised by how many! As a voter, it’s sometimes hard to sift through all the information and understand the differences between the parties.
- Political parties publish their election platforms online prior to the election. By going to each party’s official website, you can learn more about the issues of priority to them and how they would address specific problems, including those that touch on food.
- Check out local media to find out about local all-candidates debates/town halls and attend to listen. You can also watch party leader debates to learn more about their approaches.
While it’s important to learn about the parties, it’s also important to learn about the candidates. Some candidates run as independents and are unaffiliated with a specific political party. It’s not just about the issues, but also about whether you feel the individual will represent your riding well.
- Local candidates often go door-to-door. These are great opportunities to have informal conversations to learn more about a candidate’s views and individual experiences.
- You can also reach out to them. Once the election is officially called, Elections Canada will post the official candidates running in your riding on its website. Candidates can register up until 3 weeks before election day, so check back often to see the latest information.
- Attend a food-focused event. Eat Think Vote is a non-partisan campaign, gathering community members across Canada to chat with federal candidates ahead of the upcoming election on food issues that matter to them. Community groups across the country are organizing Eat Think Vote events that you can attend.
- Attend other events in your riding. Candidates will often host or attend community events and this is great way to meet them. Some candidates will post their schedules on their own websites or social media.
Share with candidates more about issues that matter to you as a voter in their riding. This can involve bringing to light important local priorities and issues or your opinions or concerns about broader issues. We often hear from elected representatives that they value the opportunities to hear from their constituents. Check out the Eat Think Vote backgrounders for more information and inspiration on how to talk about these issues.
- Candidates come from a wide range of background and experiences. Sharing issues that matter to you can help candidates learn about new issues or introduce new ideas. Talk about why these issues matter to you and how you experience them.
- For candidates who are elected, they will have a better understanding of how to represent constituent concerns.
- For candidates who are not elected, the issues you share could still help shape the understanding and response of political parties through their active engagement in political dialogue (e.g., at party conventions, etc).
- Local all-candidates debates and town halls are a great way to share your concerns and ask questions about issues that matter to you. Be prepared to ask short and clear questions (e.g., I am concerned about Issue X for Y reasons. Please describe how you would address Issue X, if you are elected? What would you do?).
If you feel strongly about a candidate or party, then you may want to consider volunteering your time. Candidates are often looking for local volunteers to support their campaign efforts.
Voting is an essential part of our democratic process. Make sure you’re on the voter registration list and ensure you identification needed to vote. You can learn more about ways to vote including advance ballots and poll locations.
Blog written by: Satya Ramen, Senior Coordinator, Our Food Project, Ecology Action Centre.
Adventures in Local Food is your source for food news in Nova Scotia, from pickles to policy. It is a project organized by the Ecology Action Centre. Learn more about our program at https://www.ecologyaction.ca/ourfood