A leader and a gentleman, the late Honorable John Wise earned the trust of everyone he dealt with and brought his passion for agriculture to public life.
Born as the fifth generation on the family dairy farm in rural Ontario, John began his life’s work in agriculture at the local level. He was an active and respected community leader with farm organizations and municipal politics for more than 15 years, before he was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Elgin in 1972. He held his riding through five consecutive elections until 1988 when he chose not to seek re-election.
In 1974, John was chosen as the official Canadian observer of the 29th Regular Assembly of the United Nations. In 1979 he was appointed Minister of Agriculture in Joe Clark’s government. In 1984, as part of Brian Mulroney’s government, he served his second term as federal Minister of Agriculture.
During his tenure in national politics, John applied his signature style and vision to help guide several pieces of important agricultural legislation through. He was instrumental in the development of the agricultural component of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. To help farmers in times of crisis, John established the Farm Debt Review Act. Uder his guidance, the network on national research stations and laboratories was expanded across Canada.
John championed various sectors in Canadian agriculture. He delivered transition assistance to grape growers, laying the foundation for Canada’s world-renowned wine industry. A long-term dairy policy was implemented under John’s guidance to bring increased stability to the sector. He played an important role in developing and maintaining supply management for the egg industry in Canada. Under his leadership as Minister of Agriculture, John helped establish and ensure a stable and predictable future for Ontario beef farmers through business risk management programming. In 1987, he supported the formation of the Soil Conservation Council of Canada – a national organization to promote soil conversation practices to decrease soil degradation.
Known as a leader who knew how to define the issues, plot effective strategies and get the best out of people, John has been recognized for outstanding service to Canadian agriculture by Dairy Farmers of Ontario, Dairy Farmers of Canada and Farm Credit Canada. He is an honorary member of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. In his community, John has been honoured with the naming of John Wise Line in Elgin County and John Wise Public School in St Thomas.
While John worked tirelessly as a trusted leader during his 28 years of political service, his family was the heart of his world. John was a proud husband, father and grandfather.
Canadian agriculture remembers the Honorable John Wise as a gracious, admired, respected ambassador.