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Vol.102 Issue 11

November 2016 1.pdf


The naked truth

BC politics has long had a reputation for colourful characters: our second premier was Amor de Cosmos, an advocate for agriculture and noted eccentric. A generation ago, the Agricultural Land Reserve was created under the colourful Dave Barrett, who didn’t shy from his own self-deprecating innuendoes when it was suggested his underwear was as red as his politics.

Perhaps the most colourful politician in recent memory was agriculture minister Corky Evans, famous for a homespun manner that was often as serious as it was off-script. He famously lost his teeth in the Legislature while pronouncing an unparliamentary term for horse dung one afternoon and during the 1999 World Trade Organization talks in Seattle, he encouraged protestors to keep at it – one day, they could be agriculture ministers, too.

Current agriculture minister Norm Letnick, however, has become the epitome of the colourful politician by stripping to his briefs and shearing his body hair for an application of orchard-patterned body paint.

Letnick wasn’t trying to draw attention to himself, however.

Since his ministry has limited funds for marketing, he was trying to raise awareness of the government's tax credit for produce donations by farmers to food banks and other not-for-profits.

While we applaud the minister for being a good sport and would love to ask Mrs Letnick what she thinks of dem apples, his behavior suggests that provincial under-funding of agriculture has gone a bit far.

BC has long had a reputation for funding its farm sector at a rate that lags most other provinces and the minister’s stripped down marketing strategy underscores the situation.

A government that can’t provide its own ministers with funding to advertise programs designed to help citizens needs to seriously consider its priorities. Given the $500 million windfall the province touted earlier this fall, Victoria has no excuse for not funding existing programming and telling farmers what’s available.

Agriculture has been a bright light for provincial exports and there’s an election coming up. Promises are sure to come. It would be nice to see the province invest in sectors that are actually making good.

Letnick’s performance shows that it’s possible for the farm sector to make do without cash.

Just think what would happen if programming, extension services and other assistance received a due share of provincial funding.