Friday, January 30, 2015

Times Colonist: MLAs set up rebel group on agriculture

Lana Popham organized the rebel group after the Liberal
government  rebuffed calls for an official standing committee.  
Photograph By BRUCE STOTESBURY, Times Colonist
Independent MLA Vicki Huntington has agreed to co-chair a renegade Opposition committee on agriculture with Saanich South MLA Lana Popham.
Popham, the NDP’s agriculture critic, organized the rebel group after the Liberal government rebuffed calls for an official standing committee. The last one was disbanded in 2001, Popham said.
Huntington said Thursday that the lack of properly functioning committees of MLAs is “one of the great under-achievements of our democracy in the legislature.”
The Delta South MLA hopes to highlight that issue, while also focusing attention on agriculture and food security.
“I think it’s a good initiative and I think it brings attention to the fact that these standing committees don’t work properly and, in some cases, like agriculture, don’t exist,” she said.
As an unofficial committee, Popham, Huntington and the other members will receive no money or clerical support. Nor will Hansard record the proceedings. Popham hopes to livestream the meetings, perhaps with the help of a GoPro camera. “I won’t be wearing it on my head, but that would make it interesting,” she joked.
Popham expects the committee will meet monthly around the province. People will register to make 10-minute presentations and the committee will likely issue a report next fall.
“It ramps up the discussion and the importance of agriculture,” Popham said. “Although the government is choosing not to participate, it’s certainly a message that they’re going to be hearing, so I think the committee will still have the ability to influence policy decisions.”
Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick said Popham and Huntington are “doing what politicians do, which is try to attract attention to their cause.”
But he dismissed the need for a standing committee. “I have a ministry advisory committee made up of people from different parts of agriculture and agrifoods, including aquaculture,” he said.
The advisory committee will meet in the coming weeks to go over the ministry’s draft agrifoods plan. “That’s really the benefit of having that committee structure with industry players on it as opposed to politicians,” Letnick said.
Huntington said the Opposition committee will give local communities and citizens a chance to be heard. “Anything that can publicize the need to spend more time in defining what food security means to the people of this province is important,” she said.
Huntington said the Liberals dislike legislative committees because they “don’t like losing control.”
“The fewer committees you have, the fewer opportunities you have for input or for publicity or for criticism,” she said.
“In the time I’ve been in the house, the standing committee on environment has never met. The standing committee on Crown corporations [has] never met.”

Monday, January 26, 2015

A disaster waiting to happen?

Dear Saanich, 

Residential oil spills from aging oil tanks and accessories are harming our local environment and creating significant financial liability for home-owners.

Join MLA Rob Fleming and me for a public forum to discuss this problem and the solutions.

Thursday February 5th
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Spectrum Community School Theatre, 957 Burnside Rd W.

  • Dean Murdock - Saanich Councillor
  • Tim Pringle - Past-president Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC
  • Ethan Krindle - Environmental Lawyer
  • Dave Rogers - President of BC Hazmat Management Ltd.
  • Dorothy Chambers - Colquitz River Steward
  • Judith Lavoie - Freelance writer, former reporter Victoria Times Colonist
A recent report from the Partnership for Water Sustainability found that over 13,000 homes constructed in the CRD prior to 1992 had oil heating. Aging oil tanks and accessories, if not properly maintained can lead to catastrophic damages to local fish and wildlife in our waterways and pose significant clean-up costs for property owners and local governments.

Hope to see you on the 5th! Refreshments provided.

For more information:
Warm regards,

Lana Popham
MLA, Saanich South

Friday, January 23, 2015

BC Legislative Standing Committee on Agriculture!

The Official Opposition is taking the unprecedented step of convening an Opposition Standing Committee on Agriculture and Food after well over a decade of neglect by the BC Liberal government of our province's agriculture industry.
Agriculture is a multi-billion dollar economic generator that has enormous untapped potential. This is an industry that can unlock prosperity in communities throughout the province. 
A Standing Committee could help reverse the age gap in B.C.’s agriculture industry by developing strong agricultural policies that incent young people into agriculture, and allow them to make a good living.
Retaining young farmers is critical to having a strong agricultural future. The B.C. Liberals have not taken the steps needed to encourage young people to get into the industry. In 15 years they haven’t developed a long-term agriculture plan and they have put our provincial food security at risk.
I've urged the B.C. Liberals government to bring back the Select Standing Committee on Agriculture for six years. Although the Opposition Standing Committee on Agriculture and Food will be operating without legislative supports such as Hansard, the committee has support across the province.
I have heard tremendous support for a legislative committee from all parts of the agriculture industry. We have support from small farms and big farms, conventional farmers and organic farmers, and from entrepreneurs and food security advocates.
British Columbians can’t afford to wait for action on agriculture in the face of climate change and missed economic opportunities.  We must have a long-term, sustainable agriculture and food plan in order to be resilient.
The members of the committee are:
  • Lana Popham, MLA Saanich South 
  • Raj Chouhan, MLA Burnaby-Edmonds
  • Katrine Conroy, MLA Kootenay West
  • Robin Austin, MLA Skeena
  • Nicholas Simons, MLA Powell River-Sunshine Coast

A schedule of committee meetings, a public website and information on how the public can participate will be released over the next month.
Lana Popham, MLA Saanich South & Agriculture Spokesperson for the Official Opposition

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Saanich News: More oil tank spills, still no new solutions