The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

B.C. government emails show disdain for Agricultural Land Reserve

  • Print
British Columbia Premier Christy Clark

DARRYL DYCK / THE CANADIAN PRESS Enlarge Image

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark

VICTORIA - On a day when B.C. Premier Christy Clark's government held a ceremony to recognize the 100th anniversary of a racist government policy denying entry to Canada to a group from India, one of her caucus members issued an apology for writing inappropriate emails about First Nations people.

"Unacceptable," Clark said Wednesday about statements made by Pat Pimm, the Liberal MLA for Peace River North and former minister of agriculture.

"They don't reflect government's policy, government's direction," she said. "Our direction as a government is to say we want to include First Nations in the resource development and the resource boom that we are bringing to this province."

Pimm's comments were contained in a series of two-year-old emails about British Columbia's Agricultural Land Reserve, the 1970s-era legislation protecting farmland which has been the subject of contentious debate in the legislature for weeks.

The Agriculture Land Commission Amendment Act is slated to become law Thursday, splitting the land reserve into two zones, making it easier to use farmland in the Kootenays and northern B.C. for other purposes such as oil and gas development.

Opposition New Democrat agriculture critic Nicholas Simons said the emails between key players in the Liberal government's bid to weaken the ALR law shows how long the plan to change the law has been in the works.

Pimm's July 2012 email to the Agricultural Land Commission chairman Richard Bullock and several Liberals like current Energy Minister Bill Bennett and former agriculture minister Don McRae indicates the push to make changes started at least two years ago. Bennett is spearheading a review of the land commission

"Who the hell is running this province anyways," said Pimm's email that goes on to state opportunities to make changes are being ignored while First Nations get more government money "which doesn't get me one vote."

Pimm, who has taken a leave from his political duties to recover from cancer surgery, issued a statement of apology.

"I deeply regret and apologize for my comments in regards to First Nations that appeared in the Globe and Mail (newspaper) today," said the two paragraph statement. "They were inappropriate and wrong, and do not in any way reflect the policy of our government, which has been working with First Nations to make sure B.C.’s First Nations are full participants in our economy."

Bennett, in a July 30, 2012 email to then agriculture minister McRae, presses for a boundary review that would re-examine agricultural land in his Kootenay East riding.

"No one up here is trying to undercut the ALR," said Bennett's email. "We just want what we were promised when the ALR was first created, a boundary review to ensure land within the reserve is actually worth 'protecting' for agriculture."

NDP Leader John Horgan said Clark placed Bennett and Pimm in positions of power knowing both politicians favoured making ALR changes.

"I think that Mr. Bennett has a good deal to answer for," said Horgan. "He said categorically he did not have an axe to grind, but clearly he's been grinding an axe for about a decade now."

Bennett said he has always been clear that he favoured an overhaul of the land commission.

"There's really not very much new here folks," he said.

Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick rejected NDP calls to withdraw the current ALR amendment act until more public consultations are held. Letnick said changes to the proposed law were introduced that further reinforce the independence of the land commission.

Both Bennett and Letnick said Pimm's email comments about First Nations people were unfortunate and regrettable and do not reflect the views of the Liberal government.

The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs issued a statement calling Pimm's comments "repugnant, reprehensible and downright racist."

Former British Columbia New Democrat premier Ujjal Dosanjh — the first Indo-Canadian premier in Canadian history — was one of the dozens of guests at the legislature attending the ceremony marking the arrival of the Komagata Maru at Burrard Inlet in Vancouver.

In May 1914, the 376 passengers from India were not permitted to enter Canada and were sent back to India where they were met with gunfire resulting in 19 deaths.

"We've spent the last 100 years trying to wash this stain away from our history, to get over it, to heal," Clark said.

In 2008, the B.C. politicians made a formal apology to the South Asian community and to the families of the victims of the Komagata Maru incident.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Weather for final Fringing weekend

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • A Canada Goose cools off in a water pond Monday afternoon at Brookside Cemetary- See Bryksa’s Goose a day Challenge– Day 27-June 25, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What should the city do with the 102-year-old Arlington Street bridge?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google