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NDP want to talk agriculture

With the Liberal leadership race over, political eyes in B.C. are now turning to the NDP, in the midst of its own leadership race.

Five MLAs—John Horgan, Adrian Dix, Mike Farnworth  and Nicholas Simons—along with marijuana activist Dana Larsen, are vying to replace Carole James as NDP leader. The leadership vote takes place April 17.

Farnworth, considered one of the frontrunners in the race,  will be Kelowna tonight to speak with party members and participate in a panel discussion on the potential of small-scale sustainable farming in B.C.

“Agriculture is important to the province but unfortunately has been largely ignored by the Liberal government,” Farnworth told the Capital News on Tuesday.

Farnworth said that is why he wanted to come here and listen to those involved as well as convey his plans to help the industry if he is elected NDP leader and then premier.

The panel, at the Rotary Centre For The Arts at 7 p.m., will include market gardener and author Jordan Marr; Curtis Stone, a Kelowna-based, “pedal-power” urban farmer; Peter Kok,  Common Grind Urban Farms in Penticton; and Bob McCoubrey, an organic grower in Lake Country.

Farnworth’s platform includes:

• Develop a comprehensive strategy to enable sustainable agriculture in B.C.

• Increase demand for B.C. grown products through initiatives including an expanded BUY BC program and a BC Food-First policy.

• Ensure the Agricultural Land Commission is independent and has sufficient funding to pursue its mission.

• Stop the practice of replacing high-quality agricultural land with low-quality agricultural land and implement a no net-loss policy for each region.

• Support the return of the farmable land to the ALR.

• Change regulations to end disincentives to farm-gate sales, as well as small and medium scale production.

Calling the Liberal government one that has run out of ideas and one that needs to be replaced, Farnworth said he does not expect huge changes now that Christy Clark has been selected premier.

Noting her role in cabinet during her days in government, he said despite the Liberals apparent feeling that the answer to its problems will be cured with a new leader, the public is “two steps ahead of it” and ready for a change in government.

To that end, he said it is imperative that whoever ends up as leader of the NDP appeal to a broad base of support across the province.

Unlike the Liberals, the NDP will hold a one-member, one-vote election to select its leader.

But like the Liberals, it will allow telephone and Internet voting.

awaters@kelownacapnews.com

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