For Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, the office may be different but the focus is the same when it comes to his new shadow cabinet critic role—agriculture.
Letnick, whose Liberal Party is sitting in Opposition for the first time in 16 years, has gone from being the province’s agriculture minister to one of two Liberal agriculture critics.
Letnick was named to the post Thursday, along with Delta South MLA Ian Paton, a Delta farmer. It was a job the Kelowna-Lake Country MLA said he asked for.
Meanwhile, Letnick’s fellow “Team Okanagan” MLA, Kelowna-Mission’s Steve Thomson, was tabbed for double duty in the shadow cabinet—named as both the citizens’ services critic and one of two Liberal trade critics. Thomson, the province’s former forest, lands and natural resource operations minister, was front and centre on many trade initiatives when the Liberal were in power.
“These were both areas where I expressed an interest,” said Thomson Thursday afternoon about his new shadow cabinet roles.
Letnick said given the success the province enjoyed in the agricultural sector under the Liberals—where he said the sector grew to become a $14 billion industry, exports grew to $3.6 billion, the number of people employed in the sector rose to 62,000 people from 56,000 and there were record profits for farmers—he will be keeping a close eye on how the new NDP Agriculture Minister Lana Popham manages the portfolio.
“I’m interested in overall outcomes,” he said. “And we’ll be watching.”
He described Popham as been a strong advocate for B.C. agriculture for her eight years in the Legislature, so he is hopeful she will build on the successful groundwork he feels his party laid in the past.
For Thomson, like Letnick one of several former cabinet ministers now serving as Opposition critics, the trade role is an important one. He shares it roll with Teresa Wat, a former B.C. international trade minister.
“I think we will work very well together,” Thomson predicted.
“The breadth of experience (in the shadow cabinet) will help keep the new government to account,” he added.