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Country Life in BC asked each of the political parties with sitting MLAs for their roster of candidates with agricultural expertise, and here’s what they came back with.


Norm Letnick (Kelowna-Lake Country) has served twice as BC Minister of Agriculture, in 2012-13, and then again 2014 to present. While he had little experience coming into the portfolio, he has learned quickly and embraced the file with enthusiasm.  

Steve Thomson (Kelowna-Mission) is the former executive director of the BC Agriculture Council and earlier served as general manager of the BC Fruit Growers Association and BC Milk Producers Association. He briefly served as agriculture minister after his election in 2009 before becoming Minister of Energy, and later Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

Ian Paton (Delta South) is a familiar name in the agriculture community in Delta and beyond. Born and raised in Delta, Ian has long-standing roots in agriculture, running a dairy farm and farm auction business for over 30 years. A popular municipal councillor, this is his first run for provincial office.

Donna Barnett (Cariboo-Chilcotin). Running for re-election, Barnett has worked closely with the BC Cattlemen’s Association and local producers on ranching issues including compensation for predator losses during her time in office.

Jordan Sturdy (West Vancouver-Sea to Sky) is running for re-election. Jordan and his wife, Trish, own and operate North Arm Farm in Pemberton, where they grow 45 acres of certified organic vegetables and berries, and host events. Sturdy has also served as president of the Whistler Farmers’ Market Society and director of the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets.

Mike de Jong (Abbotsford West) has credited his farming roots for his frugality and work ethic. He still lives on the farm where he was raised in Matsqui Prairie.

Stephen Roberts (Saanich North and the Islands) is making his second bid for provincial office, after losing a close race in 2009. He has a keen interest in local food production, and was an early supporter of the Salt Spring abattoir project.


Lana Popham (Saanich South) is the NDP spokes-person for agriculture and food. Before running for office, Popham co-founded and operated Barking Dog Vineyard, the first certified organic vineyard on Vancouver Island. She served on Saanich’s Planning, Transportation and Economic Development Committee and on the Peninsula Agricultural Commission. She was also president of the Vancouver Island Grape Growers Association and chair of the certification committee for the Islands Organic Producers Association.

Katrine Conroy (Kootenay West ) is running for re-election this spring. She lives on a ranch in Pass Creek with her husband, Ed, where they breed prize-winning polled Hereford cattle.

Colleen Ross (Boundary Similkameen) is the past vice- president of the National Farmers Union of Canada and a founding member of the Canadian Biotech-nology Action Centre and Food Secure Canada. She has been farming for over 30 years and currently grows organic vegetables and raises livestock at Grand Union Farm in Grand Forks. This is her first run for MLA.

Doug Donaldson (Stikine). Before becoming an MLA, Doug worked for the Storytellers’ Foundation, a non-profit organization focusing on community economic development in the region including local food action initiatives. He lives on a small farm with chickens, turkeys, sheep and llamas.


Kim Charlesworth (Nelson-Creston) is the Green’s lead on agriculture and food systems. She is board chair of the Kootenay and Boundary Food Producers Co-op (KBFPC) and has been active on local and regional initiatives to improve local food security.

Rita Giesbrecht (Cariboo-Chicoltin) has been an active advocate for sustainable agriculture as part of the Agri-Culture Enterprise Centre and South Cariboo Food Security Committee where she

co-authored a community food assessment and food charter, and participated on the industry advisory committee in the innovative Applied Sustainable Ranching Program for Thompson River University’s Williams Lake Campus.

Adam Olsen (Saanich North and the Islands) was a two-term municipal councillor in Central Saanich before stepping down to run in the 2013 election. As a councillor, he served as chair of the planning and development committee and represented the district on the Regional Housing Trust Fund and Peninsula Agricultural Commission. As interim party leader, Olsen vocally opposed changes to the Agricultural Land Commission and the Agricultural Land Reserve.

On the election trail to find farmer-friendly candidates [Tamara Leigh]

CLBC February 2017

Vol.103 Issue 5
MARCH  2017

CLBC March 2017