Columnist Tom Fletcher belittles efforts by the NDP Official Opposition to stop Bill 24 and the dismantling of the Agricultural Land Reserve.
Mr. Fletcher sarcastically dismisses NDP expressions of concern about the most severe drought in California’s history as a “hot topic”. But he avoids the obvious policy question – why undermine the ALR just when climate change-induced impacts on our most important food supplier are becoming all too obvious?
During the election, the Liberal government denied in writing, as with the HST, their intentions regarding the ALR. If Bill 24 is the right policy, then why didn’t the Liberals run on it? But even worse than the HST debacle, the Liberals reneged on a commitment after the election to allow for public input on Bill 24. The NDP moved to refer the bill to a legislative committee to allow for public and stakeholder input but the government voted this motion down and subsequently imposed closure on the debate.
Mr. Fletcher accuses NDP MLAs of making “baseless accusations” about the possibility that Bill 24 will encourage speculation and politicization of ALR decisions. But the former Agriculture Minister himself, Pat Pimm, had already been caught interfering in an ALR decision involving an illegally built commercial facility, even before Bill 24 was passed. We believe that under a Christy Clark government, this kind of behavior will continue.
We need to help farmers make a living growing food, not by allowing conversion of our best agricultural land to commercial, industrial or residential uses. That’s why we proposed a private members’ bill that would require publicly funded institutions such as hospitals to purchase a minimum proportion of their food requirements from local sources.
Gary Holman, MLA, Saanich North and the Islands