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March 2017, Vol. 41, No. 3
AgriNews Interactive

Where's the love?

Speaking of Gilles Quesnel (See Agriview 1-above), in some parts of the region, he's inadvertently causing as much controversy as some of the topics on the 2017 Eastern Ontario Crop Conference agenda.

An OMAFRA soils specialist with more than 30 years of experience, he has yet to be replaced by the ministry after retiring 18 months ago. As the only bilingual field representative for the ministry in the east, his input has been sorely missed by French language farmers.

Regional agricultural groups have wondered aloud when a replacement might be picked, emphasizing the new specialist must be able to communicate in two official languages, criteria endorsed by Quesnel.

While the job has been posted not once but twice, OMAFRA claims that no candidate has yet filled the bill. While Quesnel agrees that his skillset coupled with long experience and bilingualism might be hard to duplicate, he insists he's far from irreplaceable.

A young crop and pest management expert, perhaps a recent graduate with proficiency in two languages, could be groomed to follow in his footsteps, no doubt with his coaching.

OMAFRA has insisted it would rather wait for a topflight candidate even if it requires more time. It always takes longer to fill specialized bilingual positions, a ministry spokesman has emphasized. Even without someone in the field, OMAFRA services remain available and can be relayed through an interpreter, it maintains, which is obviously a half-baked solution.

OFA Regional Director Rejean Pommainville has logically observed that particular farm issues are much easier to deal with when there's an actual expert on the ground who knows the area and its soils. That position is echoed by French-language farm action group l'Union des cultivateurs franco-ontariens which is also concerned by the delay, says President Marc Lafleche.

"It's now been several months that the position is vacant," Lafleche emphasizes. "Must we believe that francophones will be less well served by the ministry when it comes to obtaining technical services?"

Must we? It's in the ministry management plan and in the budget. They're big footsteps to follow in, but can't we finally get somebody in the job to at least try?

Eastern Ontario AgriNews is published on the third Monday of each month. The printed version is distributed free by postal mail to farms in Eastern Ontario, Canada.

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