New B.C. cabinet sends a chill into farmers

I think most British Columbians would agree Colin Hansen had to be removed as B.C.’s finance minister.

To the editor:

I think most British Columbians would agree Colin Hansen had to be removed as B.C.’s finance minister.

Unfortunately, the appointment of Kevin Falcon represents no change whatsoever. The man who earned the party derision for his mismanagement of public relations of the Gateway Program; the man who admitted he prefers the Chinese system of no public consultation or democratic voice in government decision-making, is now in charge of the HST issue which many people believe is as much about bungled public relations as it is about arbitrary tax increase.

Last week’s cabinet appointments sent a chilling message about the B.C. Liberal Party’s intentions on agriculture. Two agriculture ministers, both Okanagan farm boys with strong connections to the farming and agri-tourism communities across the province, Steve Thompson and Ben Stewart, had started to seriously repair the party’s relationships with farmers, farmland and food security advocates but barely had time to blink before being shuffled out of the role. Don McRae, the new agriculture minister is from the Comox Valley, an area that has a considerable amount of great farmland, but I can see nothing that indicates McRae has ever actually been on a farm.

This is a strong signal that Christy Clark intends to go into the election riding Gordon Campbell’s anti-agriculture horse.

During his leadership campaign, Falcon promised to sweep aside the Agricultural Land Reserve protections and hand over the farmland of B.C. to private energy companies. As deputy premier, and with his bullyboy friend Rich Coleman now in charge of energy, Falcon is in a position to decimate the ranchlands across the Cariboo, Kootenays and north to the Yukon border.

The appointment of Stewart as party whip is interesting. A rookie MLA who’s brief role as agriculture minister was a sharp departure from the government’s, Stewart is now charged with ensuring MLA’s toe the party line.

If I lived in the Peace River Valley, I would hunker down for war, but also start packing.

I would also start stockpiling drinking water while you have access to it, because our rivers and ground water will be handed over to the private energy companies, as well.

We can also expect to see Falcon and Coleman override the Agricultural Land Commission’s decision to preserve Hudson’s Bay Farm and the farm families who have been working that land for more than 100 years will most likely have to make way for the Langley portion of the Gateway Project.

I expect that the Agricultural Land Commission review initiated by Thompson and completed by Stewart will likely either be neutered or used by Falcon as a launchpad to completely disempower the Agricultural Land Commission. Given Clark’s statement days ago that she intends to keep Hansen’s budget, we know the Agricultural Land Commission will not be given the resources it needs to do its job.

It’s good to see that Abbott wasn’t shut out of cabinet with his supporters, but given the education portfolio where teachers are up for contract negotiations thus putting him in a position where he is unlikely to win many friends or build political capital for himself.

Speculation is strong that Christy Clark will take British Columbians to the polls in September, and generally a party leader puts its best team forward. Yet Christy’s appointments completely ignore the polls on individual team members throughout the leadership race. Kevin Falcon and Rich Coleman may be popular within the party, but they are extremely unpopular among the general voting population.

The Liberal Party membership on the day of the leadership vote did not reflect the regular Liberal Party membership. Rumours were rampant that Falcon’s multinational corporate supporters had used their employees to create support for Falcon so that he would continue to enrich their coffers with taxpayer financed megaprojects. Those votes represent a very small portion of B.C. voters and taking direction to the extent the cabinet appointments suggest will only serve to foster greater disconnect between the Liberal Party and the voters.

Rumours are rampant that Pamela Martin and Bill Good will be running for the Liberal Party in the next election. It was interesting to see Chris Olsen’s name (CTV’s Olsen on Your Side) at the bottom of the new cabinet news release. Is the strategy to package extreme right perspectives for public consumption rather than give voters the policies and government they want? To sell B.C. parents that a cutesie “Premier Mom” has the best interests of their families in mind, while destroying any possibility of food security, water security or long term environmental and economic sustainability.

If it was quiet the morning after the Liberal members vote, it’s likely because New Democrats are up very late dancing with joy. I take no such joy, I’m afraid.

Donna Passmore,

Farmland Defence League of B.C., White Rock