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Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole announced plans Saturday to financially support the creation of a Quebec research and development centre on food self-sufficiency.

He announced his intention at a stop at a farm in Sainte-Hyacinthe, southeast of Montreal, as he continued a summer tour of the country ahead of an anticipated federal election.

"It's time to have a government that is there for you," O'Toole said.

He said food security and self-sufficiency are a fundamental issue for Canadians, adding that the pandemic is the perfect occasion to look into improving the industry.

"We need to be better prepared for the future," he said. "With its large territory, Canada is in a good position to feed its people."

"As borders can close quickly, being able to feed ourselves is more important than ever," he added.

The Conservative party wants the new centre to reduce imports and dependence on foreign foods while ensuring the production and consumption of local products.

O'Toole told reporters he doesn't want to campaign during a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic -- something public health officials say is increasingly likely -- but that he's ready if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decides to call an election.

"We are going to have a totally different approach from Mr. Trudeau on the economy, on jobs, on emergency programs," O'Toole said. The Conservatives have yet to announced every candidate, but "90 per cent of the candidates were selected countrywide."

Erin O'Toole announces first promise in #Quebec ahead of expected #election. #CDNPoli

O'Toole is heading to Orford on Sunday, in the Estrie region of Quebec, to present a candidate ahead of the upcoming elections.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Aug. 7, 2021.

-With files from Michel Saba.

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