Vancouver – The Liberal government issuing an order to the Agricultural Land Commission to stop improving the Agricultural Land Reserve is the latest evidence of its plans to dismantle the ALR, say New Democrats.
“In October, Pat Pimm’s deputy minister ordered the ALC to stop boundary improvement work in the Kootenays. Under the Clark government’s secret plan to dismantle the ALR, land use decisions for the Kootenays would no longer be subject to existing ALC rules, and would be essentially handed over to the Oil and Gas Commission,” said New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix.
“This is more evidence showing that Liberal government has already started the groundwork to implement their proposal to shatter the ALR.”
In a letter dated Oct. 4, the agriculture minister’s deputy minister instructed the chair of the commission to halt ALR boundary review work. The first phase of the boundary work – which was being conducted in response to an recommendation made by the auditor general – involved the Kootenay region.
The timeframe of the letter coincides with when Pimm was preparing a secret plan to dismantle the ALR and ALC. One part of this reckless overhaul involves handing over wholesale control of land use decisions in close to half the province – including the Kootenays – to the Oil and Gas Commission.
New Democrat agriculture critic Nicholas Simons said that the letter also further confirms that Bill Bennett’s core review is a cover for dismantling the ALC and ALR.
“The Liberal government is Instructing the ALC to stop boundary improvement work because of the core review. But one of the commission’s key responsibilities is to maintain the integrity of the land reserve. If the core review was to leave the ALC ‘s mandate and responsibilities intact, there would be no need to stop its ongoing efforts to improve the ALR,” said Simons.
The New Democrats also pointed to how the Clark Liberals have no mandate to shatter the ALR.
“Not once during the election campaign did the Clark Liberals mention dismantling the ALR and ALC,” said Dix. “They even claimed they wanted the ALC to meet the auditor general’s recommendations around improving the land reserve and encouraging farming. But now, with the campaign over, the Liberals are taking actions to undermine the commission and the ALR.
“This echoes of the Liberals’ HST double cross. They said they wouldn’t introduce the HST before the campaign, only to push it through after the ballots were cast,” said Dix.