By David Krayden
OTTAWA — Marie-Claude Bibeau is Canada’s first woman agriculture and agri-food minister and is the Liberal member of parliament for the Quebec constituency of Compton-Stanstead, that includes Sherbrooke, and was first elected in 2015 when Justin Trudeau became prime minister.
Upon her appointment March 1, Bibeau told CTV News that she is “very close” to the Canada’s dairy industry and understands supply management.
“It’s a huge privilege. I come from a rural riding, a dairy riding, actually, in the south of Quebec, so I’m already very close to the agricultural producers in Quebec, I know quite a bit about supply management,” she said.
Bibeau has spent her entire political career with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and was posted to Morocco and Benin. She left CIDA to operate a camping business.
As the minister of international development, Bibeau was closely associated with applying Trudeau’s “gender equality” policy to the world stage. In June 2017, she announced the creation of the Feminist International Assistance Policy, that was aimed not only at providing assistance to women in poverty around the world but was specifically designed to fund access to abortion for women around the world. Bibeau proved to be a controversial minister and spoke openly about the Trudeau government’s belief that access to abortion is a fundamental part of combatting poverty.
“Contraception and even abortion is only a tool to end poverty,” Bibeau said in an interview with CTVNews.ca. “We . . . have to give (women) the control over their lives. So we shouldn’t look at contraception as the objective. This is not the objective. This is only a tool to reduce poverty and inequality and to make an impact in terms of development and peace and security in the world.”
Those comments sparked a debate with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. The bishops’ president, Douglas Crosby, wrote to Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland in 2017 condemning the Liberal government’s equating “women’s rights with the right to abortion and ‘sexual reproductive rights’” and asked why the federal government was insisting that these “rights are at the core of Canadian foreign policy.”
Bibeau is also responsible for the upcoming Women Deliver conference that will meet in Vancouver this year that will again reinforce the Trudeau government’s commitment to making “reproductive rights” the foundation of its foreign aid programs.
The Government of Canada’s Agriculture And Agri-Food website describes Bibeau’s plans for agriculture Helping Canada exercise its leadership on global health issues, “is to support the agricultural sector in a way that allows it to be a leader in job creation and innovation. Knowing that Canada’s farmers, ranchers and food processors are the foundation of our food sector, she will help Canada’s agriculture sector be more innovative, safer, and stronger.”