Can Letnick strengthen the ALR again?

B.C.'s new-again Minister of Agriculture, Norm Letnick, has a lot to clean up.

B.C.’s new-again Minister of Agriculture, Norm Letnick, has a lot to clean up.

It is a good thing that B.C. has a new agriculture minister. He is Norm Letnick, who is also a former agriculture minister. Letnick was in that role for a few months prior to the May 2013 provincial election.

The 2013 pre-election budget had included some additional funding for the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC). It was a step in the right direction that gave a false signal of support for the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).

As soon as the election had passed, Letnick was replaced. Not long after that, his replacement and another cabinet minister, Bill Bennett, began making clumsy threats against the ALR. We analyzed that in early August 2013 in “Core Review minister fumbles ALR.”

Bennett, who seemed to have put himself in the driver’s seat, was openly acting on long-standing bias against the ALR, so it seemed natural that he would be restrained from further inappropriate behaviour. No such luck. The ALC was mistreated, and Bennett, along with a stand-in for the agriculture minister, managed to introduce bad ALR legislation in March 2014.

That is still at the bill stage, which means it is not yet law. I’ve analyzed it in the Richmond Review in “Value the chair of the Anything Land Reserve (ALR).” In brief, it is bad for farmland protection and for farmers—other than ones trying to get out of farming and act like farmland speculators. It would turn the ALC into a paperwork bureaucracy at increased expense.

To a great extent, it depends on the premier whether Letnick can end the bill to kill the ALR and instead strengthen the weakened Agricultural Land Commission. However, it is possible to see Letnick as he saw himself in the Minister of Agriculture role, since he wrote a column about it in his local paper in March 2013.

As for the replaced agriculture minister, Pat Pimm, he unfortunately has to deal with colon cancer. Naturally he has our sympathy in that, and we wish him a full recovery.

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At the same time, ALC chair Richard Bullock and his team deserve our sympathy and support too. Please sign the online Thank You card. While thanking them, you will be speaking up for a strengthened Agricultural Land Commission.

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Update, April 12, 2014, message to Hon. Norm Letnick:

Welcome back, Norm Letnick! The province is glad to see you.
You face a bigger job than before:
  • The bill to kill the ALR is still ticking and will set B.C. back half a century if it explodes.
  • The undermining of ALC chair Richard Bullock and his team has done great harm on a human level as well as the ALR level.
You were part of some funding restoration before the election, so you’ll get a short “honeymoon” away from critics. I’ve expressed that in “Can Letnick strengthen the ALR again?” at http://wp.me/s97QM-letnick.
As an informed participant in ALR matters, I will donate two suggestions so you can succeed right away:
1.Find a dignified way for Bill 24 to die.
2.Thank Richard Bullock, http://you.leadnow.ca/p/bullock.
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