Hon. Charles James Mayer

Charlie Mayer was a farmer who saw a need to improve the opportunities available to him and others like him across Western Canada and succeeded in doing so. He provided leadership locally, provincially, nationally, and globally for the betterment of grain production and marketing on a fair basis.

Born, raised and educated in Saskatchewan, he moved to Carberry, Manitoba, and bought a farm in 1965. He became active in the Manitoba Beef Growers Association and successfully opposed the introduction of supply management into that industry. He foresaw the success of Canadian beef producers in competing in the continental beef market unfettered by regulatory structures.

Charlie Mayer moved into federal politics as a Progressive Conservative member for Portage-Marquette in 1979. He became a Cabinet Minister in four successive portfolios, finally including agriculture itself. A strong pragmatic believer in the Canadian Wheat Board, he saw the need to help it overcome the subsidized competition in grains and oilseeds from the European Union and USA. He won the support of the Prime Minister who persuaded his counterparts at the 1986 G-7 Summit to include agriculture in the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations. The eventual result was a cap on subsidies, and much better access to global markets for Canadian producers.

Part of Charlie’s success was won through the Cairns Group of agricultural exporting countries pressing for freer trade. As a founder of the group, Charlie gained global recognition for his role in improving the GATT rules and setting the scene for the Doha round of WTO negotiations.

Ever the pragmatist, Charlie did not oppose the use of regulatory structures or support mechanisms for farmers when there was a need, as in drought or crisis. His vision was made reality in the Gross Revenue Insurance Plan (GRIP) and the National Income Stabilization Account (NISA.) He removed oats from the Wheat Board’s mandate. Responsibility for grains and oilseeds had been spread across three departments. He brought them together into a coherent Grains and Oilseeds Office in Agriculture Canada.

Charlie Mayer served on the boards of many volunteer and industry organizations at the local, national and international levels.

Nominated By:
  • Arthur Enns
  • Cargill Limited