NEWS RELEASE · 7th November 2013
B.C. Liberal plans to politically interfere with the Agricultural Land Commission and hand wholesale control of agricultural land outside of the lower mainland and the Okanagan to the Oil and Gas Commission are unacceptable, say New Democrats.
“What we are witnessing again is how the Liberals say one thing before the election and do the opposite after votes are cast. The Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), founded by New Democrats, has been supported by governments of all stripes for forty years because it has done a good job," said New Democrat leader Adrian Dix.
"After commending two separate reviews that called for the ALC to be strengthened before the election, the Liberals are now are conspiring to undermine it. Moreover, dismantling the ALC does not help B.C.'s oil and gas sector, which requires social license to operate and develop."
New Democrat agriculture critic Nicholas Simons said British Columbians did not vote for the ALC to be dismantled.
“If the B.C. Liberal government planned to destroy the independence of the ALC in favour of private interests, that is something they should have told British Columbians during the election,” said Simons.
A leaked cabinet decision document tries to justify the proposed changes by claiming the ALC’s legislative mandate “is too narrow.”
“The purpose of the ALC is to protect farmland so it is available for generations to come. The answer to the supposed problem the Liberals are citing is following the recommendations made by the Auditor General to strengthen the ALC's mandate.
"What’s 'too narrow' is the B.C. Liberal government’s decision to favour private interests over any other. The agriculture industry brings billions of dollars a year to the B.C. economy, and our hardworking agricultural producers do it with the least provincial government support in the country,” said Simons.
Simons noted that the leaked documents appear to confirm the public’s worst fears about the Agricultural Land Commission being included in the so-called “core review” despite the Commission being in the midst of implementing recommendations from two previous reviews overseen by three previous ministers.
“The B.C. Liberal government is now revealing their full contempt for the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and the Commission that oversees it,” said Simons. "These leaked documents put on full display how determined they are to undermine the independence of the Commission in order to destroy the ALR.”
Comment by John Taylor on 10th November 2013
Where there's smoke, there is fire.
If there is talk of taking land from the ALR it will eventually come to pass.
Most votes in the last election went to the Liberals. So, this must be what the people want.