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Canada: Farmers as Enemies of the State – The Black Art of Wedge Politics



By Michael Melanson, Frontier Centre for Public Policy


Never underestimate the value of a good enemy are words political operatives live by.  The core objective of wedge politics is to create a visible opponent, entice them to an angry response, and then vilify them as the barbarians who are going to destroy the country.  While the ruling politicians in Ottawa are not alone in this practice, they may have perfected the art.

The list of enemies they have created is growing.  Do you work in Canadian oil and gas?  Wedge politicians portray you as a luddite from a past era who needs to be reprogrammed for the green economy.  Do you have concerns about pandemic health mandates?  You have become a target for government sponsored vilification, ridicule, and even direct action from law enforcement.  Are you thinking about getting on an airplane?  Be prepared, because the Government of Canada is making this as difficult as possible.

The political gurus who spend their days developing wedge issues really don’t consider the best interest of the country.  They just want to motivate their supporters to get out and vote.  Operatives don’t understand, or frankly don’t even care, about the economic consequences of their policies.  They don’t consider the long-term social cost of dividing the Canadian populace.

Nevertheless, these are very big problems.

Let’s take the next batter up on Ottawa’s enemy list – Canadian farmers. Farmers in Canada generally vote Conservative. Liberal campaigners therefore see little political risk in adding them to the enemies list and broadening the environmental wedge they have been pounding on for ten years or more. And that is how we get an arbitrary policy announcement that fertilizer use will be reduced by 30 percent. No consultation. No consideration that collaboration with farmers might lead to better results. No understanding of the effect this policy will have on Canadian agricultural production or the impact on our economy.  No thought as to the consequences at all.

Food inflation is the highest it has been in a generation. World supply chains have been broken in the COVID-19 pandemic. The Russian war against Ukraine is further exacerbating short food supplies in many parts of the world. Today the world needs more Canadian agriculture not less.  None of this seems to matter to the policy makers in Ottawa.

Agriculture can be a driver of Canadian economic growth and recovery if farmers are allowed to do their job. This is not the time, if there ever is one, for Ottawa policy makers to stifle our farmers’ ability to grow food crops. Targeting Canadian farmers is simply asinine.

Canadian political leaders should take some lessons from around the world. Farmers have recently overthrown the government of Sri Lanka because insane agriculture policies drove the country to starvation. Led by Dutch farmers, agricultural producers across Europe are standing up to “woke” environmental policies that are driving them out of business. This is what happens when ill-conceived wedge politics push groups in society too far. The same can happen here. Pitting Canadians against each other for political gain can drive unrest that will make the trucker convey look like a dress rehearsal.

If one pounds on a wedge long enough one-half of the block will eventually fall away. The same will happen to Canada.  The present governing class in Ottawa has set themselves against Western Canadian natural resources. They ridicule the intelligence of anyone who might question their pandemic response. Now they are going after farmers with fertilizer reduction mandates that will shrink food production in a world with lower than average food supplies. When will the Western block of the country say “enough” and fall away? The talk of separation in Western Canada is real. Canada has not been this fractured since the FLQ crisis of the 1970s. It is time for the Government of Canada to stop treating some of us like second class citizens just to advance their political objectives. For the sake of the economy and the future of the country itself, this Prime Minister and his Ministers must shut down their enemy creation factory.


Michael Melanson writes for Frontier Centre for Public Policy.