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Agriculture

Welcoming provincial measures to support B.C. wines

On February 10, the BC Green caucus called on the BC Government to take steps to promote the BC wine industry in light of Alberta’s recent petty announcement that it was initiating a boycott.

We are delighted that the BC Government today announced a number of measures to support and promote the BC Wine Industry.

Below is the media release we issued in response to this announcement.


Media Release


B.C. Green Caucus welcomes provincial measures to support B.C. wines
For immediate release
February 14, 2018

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, welcomed the government’s measures to support the B.C. wine industry. Weaver previously called for a number of the same measures on February 10.

“I am glad that our government is standing up for this signature B.C. industry,” said Weaver.

“We called for a number of these measures last week because our wine industry represents the exact type of business we should be championing in this province. B.C.’s wineries are innovative, homegrown businesses that generate significant economic activity for communities across the province. After seeing the previous government relentlessly chase economically unviable sunset industries like LNG, it is frankly refreshing to see our government focus on sustainable local businesses.”

“I had the opportunity to meet with a number of Okanagan wineries over the past couple weeks. We have heard many exciting ideas about how we can better support them. Smaller wineries in particular benefit from a focus on tourism that brings people to B.C. We will continue to push for measures that will help B.C. wineries of all sizes thrive.”

Adam Olsen, B.C. Green Party spokesperson for Agriculture, added, “I am delighted that Minister Popham is stepping up to support B.C wine. B.C.’s wine industry generates $2 billion worth of economic activity and they’re growing: between 2003 and 2016, the number of B.C. wineries increased from 81 to to 273. We are only seeing the beginning of the success for this incredible industry.”

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Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca

B.C. Greens call for Government support of B.C. Wine industry

Today we issued a media release calling on the BC Government to promote the BC wine industry in light of Alberta’s recent petty announcement that it was initiating a boycott. I reproduce our media release below.

On a slightly different note, readers who might think that the BC Liberals were good for the BC Wine industry might wish to think again. Their mismanagement of the BC Wine Institute VQA specialty licenses has led to NAFTA and WTO challenges by the US and Australia, respectively.

There was no need to create new licenses as the existing ones had already been grandparented in. There would have been no grounds for challenges if they had simply left things alone.

I warned the BC Liberals in 2015 that this was likely going to happen. Unfortunately this is now yet another mess created by the BC Liberals that has to be cleaned up.


Media Release


B.C. Greens call for Government support of B.C. Wine industry
For immediate release
February 10, 2018

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party today called for the B.C. government to take immediate mitigation steps to help provide support for B.C. wineries.

“B.C.’s wine industry is a provincial treasure that brings significant tourism and economic activity to our province,” Weaver said.

“More than that, it represents the best of our province – innovators who have developed their businesses into an internationally renowned region. Today we are calling for the provincial government to take decisive action to support these businesses who have been unfairly targeted by a neighbouring government.”

Specific mitigation measures currently supported by the B.C. Greens include:

  • Launch a “Drink Local” program to encourage British Columbians to buy wine from BC wineries, including a promotional campaign in BC Liquor Stores and a province wide advertising campaign to encourage the purchase of 100% BC craft alcohol.
  • Explore whether wholesale prices could be provided to licensed restaurants to encourage the purchase and promotion of wine for BC wineries.
  • Provide funding to increase BC VQA export sales in other Canadian provinces and to international markets.

“The B.C. Green Caucus is 100% behind the government’s decision to ensure that major decisions are based on sound evidence – something that was not the case in the approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline. It is incredibly petty that the Alberta NDP government has chosen to go after small business in B.C. in response and we hope all British Columbians will we stand with us in support of our coastline and in support of our wineries.”

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Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca

Sonia Furstenau presses Premier on wild salmon habitat protection

Today in the legislature my colleague, Sonia Furstenau, expanded upon our efforts in Question Period to pressure the BC Government to get open net fish farms out of the migratory paths of wild salmon. Below I reproduce her exchange with the Premier as well as our accompanying press release.


Video of Exchange



Media Release


Sonia Furstenau presses Premier on wild salmon habitat protection
For immediate release
October 17, 2017

VICTORIA, B.C. – Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley, pressed Premier Horgan on his government’s plans to protect wild salmon habitat in B.C. during question period today.

“Wild salmon are tremendously important to Northern and coastal communities, said Furstenau.

“Wild salmon in the Skeena River alone generate $110 million per year, and our sport fishing industry is produces revenues of $925 million and 8,400 direct jobs. But in 2009, the decline in the wild salmon run in the Fraser River was so severe it was classified as a catastrophic collapse. This year, salmon levels in the Fraser are approaching those same levels.

“Protecting our wild salmon stocks will require significant investment in habitat restoration. Will the Premier commit to meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau to advocate for the protection of our wild salmon stocks and to establish a joint provincial-federal strategy to phase out fish farms on migratory routes?”

The Premier responded that his government is committed to protecting B.C. wild salmon stocks, and that he will work with all levels of government and Indigenous leaders to ensure their protection.

As part of their role in opposition, the B.C. Green caucus members will continue to hold the government to account on its commitment to protect B.C.’s wild salmon, including its promise to phase out salmon farms along wild salmon migratory routes.

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Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca

Jillian Oliver
Press Secretary
BC Green caucus
c. 778-650-0597
o. 250-387-3094
e. jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca


Question


S. Furstenau: Wild salmon are tremendously important to coastal and northern communities. As the mayor of Smithers states: “It’s a wild salmon economy here.” The Skeena River alone generates up to $110 million per year, while sports fishing in B.C. produced revenues of $925 million, contributing $325 million to B.C.’s GDP and 8,400 direct jobs.

In a 2013 article, the MLA from Stikine valley, now the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources and Northern Development, was quoted, saying “wild salmon habitat deserves local, regional, provincial, national and global protection because there is nothing like it remaining in the world.”

My question is to the Premier. Saving B.C.’s wild salmon will require a massive investment in habitat restoration. Is your government prepared to make this investment, particularly given the crucial role that wild salmon plays in B.C.’s economy?


Answer


Hon. J. Horgan: I thank the member for her question. We had some questions yesterday around salmon in British Columbia, and I’m delighted to focus on wild salmon, wild pacific salmon, which are the lifeblood of many communities, as the member said.

In my own community of Langford–Juan de Fuca, fishing in Sooke and Port Renfrew is a vital part of the economy that we see, certainly, during the summer. I had the good fortune of being on the San Juan River with the Pacheedaht First Nation to observe their food fishery, not seven days ago. The power of salmon is in all of us, and I think that every member of this House would agree.

With respect to the question about salmon restoration, certainly, upstream is the responsibility of the provincial government. We need to make sure that we are rehabilitating streams after logging practices — some good, some bad. But we also have to make sure that we’re working with partners.

The member for Skeena raised some questions yesterday with respect to Indigenous people and what their relationship is with salmon. We need to make sure the federal government is at the table with dollars to make sure that they’re meeting their obligations as well.

I’d also say that I think all members, if you’re not aware of the important salmon enhancement work that’s being done up and down the coast to bring more salmon into play, not just for food fishery, not just for commercial and sport fisheries but for orcas and other mammals that depend on the salmon….

I think that we can all do well, when the estimates for the member for Stikine and the minister responsible for Agriculture come up, to embrace and support the notion of salmon enhancement and making sure that we’re doing restoration in our streambeds.


Supplemental Question


S. Furstenau: In 2009, the Fraser River sockeye return was so low, it was regarded as a catastrophic collapse. The Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River was launched. Three years later it produced 75 recommendations on how we could restore and protect wild salmon. At the time, Justice Cohen stated: “salmon farms should not be permitted to operate unless it is clear they pose no more than a minimal risk to the Fraser River sockeye salmon.”

This year the Fraser River sockeye are returning at nearly the same catastrophically low levels as in 2009. We are in an emergency. My question is to the Premier.

I appreciate you recognizing the need to work with the federal government.

Will the Premier meet with Prime Minister Trudeau to actively advocate for B.C.’s wild salmon and establish a coordinated, provincial-federal strategy to responsibly phase out open-net fish farms on migratory routes?


Answer


Hon. J. Horgan: I thank the member again for her question.

The Minister of Agriculture met with the Minister of Fisheries just last week to raise the issues of open-net-pen fish farms in migratory routes, which is counter to the recommendations of Cohen.

Cohen has been endorsed, I believe, by the members on the other side as well as the current federal government and the government of the day here in British Columbia. It’s my view that we need to make sure that we’re working with all of the stakeholders, as articulated by the member for Skeena yesterday.

This issue didn’t arrive yesterday. The member has given us an historical note back to 2009 and the beginning of the Cohen investigation. But we’ve had challenges with wild fish and the integration with Atlantics, or invasive species in the minds of some, for some 25 to 30 years.

This issue will not solved be overnight. But I commit to this member and all members of this House and all British Columbians that wild salmon are paramount on this side and, I believe, throughout this Legislature. I’m going to do my level best to work with every level of government and all Indigenous people to protect wild salmon.

Reintroducing a Bill to Protect British Columbia’s Farmland

Today in the legislature I introduced Bill M202 – Property Law Amendment Act, 2017. I had previously introduced this Bill in February, 2017 during the 6th sesison of the 40th parliament. Its purpose is to ensure that farmland in British Columbia is safeguarded from real estate speculation using foreign capital. In addition, it is important to ensure that British Columbia’s future food security is protected.

Below I reproduce the text and video of the introduction along with our accompanying media release.


Text of Introduction


A. Weaver: I move that a bill intituled the Property Law Amendment Act, 2017, of which notice has been given, be introduced and read a first time now.

Mr. Speaker: Please proceed.

A. Weaver: I’m pleased to introduce a bill intituled the Property Law Amendment Act, 2017. This bill amends the existing Property Law Act to ensure that land held within the agricultural land reserve is protected from international real estate speculation. If passed, this bill would prohibit foreign entities from purchasing ALR land over five acres without prior permission from the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council.

At UBCM last week, I met with communities in northern British Columbia. They emphasized the impact that the foreign purchase of ALR lands is having on local farmers, their local economies and our food security. For example, in Cariboo North, 42,000 acres have been bought by two foreign entities, with a total of 22,239 acres being removed from local agricultural production. This is affecting the local price of hay and pricing farmers out of the market.

Many other provinces regulate and restrict foreign ownership of agricultural land in this way, including Alberta, Saskatchewan Manitoba, Quebec and PEI. Our agricultural land reserve should have the same protection.

Mr. Speaker: The question is the first reading of the bill.

Motion approved.

A. Weaver: Now I move that the bill be placed on the orders of the day for second reading at the next sitting of the House after today.

Motion approved.


Video of Introduction



Media Release


Andrew Weaver introduces bill to ban foreign ownership on Agricultural Land Reserve land over five acres
For immediate release
October 5, 2017

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, reintroduced a bill that would ban foreign ownership on Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) land over five acres. Weaver first introduced the bill in February 2016.

“B.C.’s Agricultural Land Reserve is vital for promoting our province’s food security and growing our agricultural sector,” said Weaver.

“Today I am reintroducing a bill that would prohibit foreign entities from purchasing ALR land over five acres.

“B.C. currently imports 70% of its vegetables from the United States, with half of that coming from California. With these regions increasingly experiencing extreme weather events such as droughts and floods, it is more important than ever that B.C. take the future of our food security seriously. Moreover, agriculture presents a significant economic opportunity for B.C. Our thriving wine industry alone has a $2.8 billion economic impact, generating 12,000 jobs throughout the province.

“One of the key reasons why young people are unable to pursue farming is due to the cost of land. By allowing ALR land to be subject to international real estate speculation, we are limiting their opportunities to get into this vital, sustainable industry.

“Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Quebec and PEI have all passed similar legislation to protect their agricultural land. This leaves B.C. as the only western province without such a law. It’s time we took action on this important issue so that we can ensure that ALR land is used as it is intended – to offer opportunities to local communities across the province and to promote the overall food security of our province.”

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Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca

Fish Farms and the Need to Protect Wild Salmon

Last week I sent a letter to B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture seeking clarity as to what the B.C. government is planning to do to promote and facilitate the transition from ocean based, open net fish farms to land based closed containment systems. Today, I followed up with her in Question Period. As you will see from the exchange reproduced below, I was very pleased with the thoughtful answers provided by Minister Popham.

Fish farms have long been contentious on the B.C. coast due to concerns about sea lice, disease, escaped non-native species, and the impact these contaminants are having on wild stocks – many of which are already significantly depleted. Tensions between some First Nations and operating farms have escalated in the last few weeks following a salmon spill near the San Juan Islands. While action on this file is long overdue, a responsible and effective move to protect our wild salmon stocks now seems especially urgent.

The B.C. Green caucus position on fish farms has always been very clear. We need to get fish farms out of the migratory paths of wild salmon. And, at the same time, the provincial government needs to promote the establishment of closed-containment systems on land.

Prior to the last election, the B.C. NDP were also very clear about their commitment to shut down open-net farms and move to closed containment, land-based fish farms. They promised to implement the recommendations of the Cohen Commission as well. This past April, NDP North Island MLA Claire Trevena – now the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure – told a gathering of indigenous leaders in Alert Bay that if elected, her party would remove fish farms from coastal waters. “We will remove fish farms, we are committed to that and we can actually form government to make this happen and make sure that these territories and the North island are clear of fish farms”

“It can happen here,” she said of a shift to land-based fish farming. “We will make sure it does.”

These are strong words. Unfortunately, jurisdictional divisions threaten to make this far easier said than done. The federal Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) department is responsible for the regulation of most aspects of the aquaculture industry in B.C. The government of Canada issues licences for marine finfish, shellfish and freshwater (or land-based) operations. Licences stipulate the volume and species that may be produced at a site and outline requirements for fish health, sea lice levels, fish containment and waste control.

To complete that structure, the province of B.C. issues tenures where operations take place in either the marine or freshwater environment, licenses marine plant cultivation, and manages business aspects of aquaculture such as work place health and safety.

So, the province only has jurisdiction over one piece of the fish farm regulatory puzzle, but it is still an important one and there is still a lot of room for progress to be made. In collaboration with First Nations and the federal government the province can take it even further. The B.C. Green caucus remains committed to advancing this issue, and making sure the NDP government does the same.

The leading closed-containment Atlantic salmon company in Canada is Kuterra, based in Port McNeill and owned by the Namgis First Nation. Kuteraa received part of its funding from Tides Canada on the basis that it provide open access to its knowledge and since become an industry leader.

To their credit, the ocean based B.C. fish farming industry has taken measures to improve security and there have been very few escapes over the past five years. The last major escape of Atlantic salmon from a B.C. operation was in 2008 and the most recent significant fish spill was in 2014 when more than 13,000 farmed rainbow trout escaped from an operation at Brettell Point, near Powell River. This summer’s incident in U.S. waters, however, highlights the continued risk of farming Atlantic salmon in open net pens. Escaped salmon increase the risk of spreading disease to wild stocks, and heighten competition with wild Pacific salmon, which are endangered in many B.C. watersheds. It is time for governments to help the fish farming industry transition from open-net farms to closed containment land based facilities. It is time to prioritize the protection of wild salmon.

In May, 2015, I was afforded the honour of introducing a petition by 108,848 people who are asking the government to please not issue licences of occupation to salmon farms trying to expand in British Columbia. I also introduced a second petition signed by more than 100 business organizations across the province who supported the individuals who signed the larger petition. The business organizations argued that they are convinced by the published scientific evidence that open net salmon farms are a threat to B.C. wild pacific salmon.

Below I reproduce the exchange I had with Minister Popham as well as the accompanying media release


Video of Question Period Exchange



Question


A. Weaver: The 2017 B.C. election platform states this.

We will ensure that the salmon farming industry does not endanger wild salmon by implementing the recommendations of the Cohen Commission, keeping farmed sites out of the important salmon migration routes and supporting research and transparent monitoring to minimize the risk of disease transfer from captive to wild fish.

In addition, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure promised First Nation leaders, in Alert Bay on April 23 of 2017:

We will remove fish farms, we are committed to that, and we can actually form government to make this happen and make sure that these territories and the north Island are clear of fish farms.

She did so, with respect, as a means or way of convincing First Nation leaders not to vote for the B.C. Green Party.

My question to the Minister of Agriculture is this: what is the government’s plan now to implement the recommendations of the Cohen commission and assist in the transition from ocean-based fish farms to land-based closed-containment systems?

Mr. Speaker: If it was always that friendly.


Answer


Hon. L. Popham: Thank you to the member for Oak Bay–Gordon Head for the question. I appreciate it, and I want to assure the member and the people of British Columbia that our government is deeply committed to protecting B.C.’s wild salmon. It’s essential to our economy, it’s essential to our province, and it’s essential to our B.C. First Nations.

The Cohen commission recommendations are something that we did commit to in our platform, and we are absolutely committed to fulfilling those recommendations. There are federal recommendations and there is B.C.’s portion of those recommendations, and we are committing to do that.

Also, I’m sure the member probably knows that, but I did want to point out that in 2010 there was a Hinkson decision which moved the responsibility for fish health and licensing of fish farms to the federal government. The provincial government has the responsibility for tenures. It’s important to know that at this time, as we’re figuring out where we go next, there are no tenures being approved and no renewal of tenures being approved.


Supplementary Question


A. Weaver: First off, I do wish to thank the official opposition for their support in the question. I’m sure they thought I was going to offer a softball, but this is a very serious question that we would like to actually get details on.

I’d like to acknowledge that this is a very complex multi-jurisdictional issue, but let me be very clear. The Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure was forthright and clear that her government was going to remove fish farms from the migratory tracks of sockeye salmon — period. She said that to First Nation leaders in the north Island and convinced them not to vote for the B.C. Green Party because of that.

Now, my question, again to the Minister of Agriculture, is this. Does she intend, in her mandate, to end the use of open-net fish farms along the migratory passage of sockeye system, as promised to British Columbians by the now Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure?


Answer


Hon. L. Popham: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Members, we shall…. The friendliness is wonderful, but we shall hear the minister’s response.

Hon. L. Popham: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you again for your question. I’m not sure if the member knows, but I am waiting for the recommendations coming from a report from the Minister of Agriculture’s advisory council on finfish aquaculture, which has been looking at the issue. I expect that report to be coming forward with recommendations at the end of this year. While I wait for those recommendations, I have already been on the ground, meeting with stakeholders. I’ve met with First Nations, the industry.

I’ve also sat down with the Minister of Fisheries, Minister LeBlanc from the federal government, and invited him to come sit at the table with us, because I think it’s going to take the provincial government, the federal government, First Nations and industry to sit together as we move forward and figure out the recommendations and how to implement them.


Media Release


Weaver seeks action from government to end ocean based fish farming
For immediate release
September 13, 2017

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green caucus, is seeking leadership from the government to protect B.C.’s wild salmon stocks. Weaver questioned Minister of Agriculture during question period, after having sent a letter to the Minister last week.

“Fish farms have long been contentious on the B.C. coast due to concerns about sea lice, disease, escaped non-native species, and the impact these contaminants are having on wild stocks – many of which are already significantly depleted,” Weaver said.

“In April, NDP North Island MLA Claire Travena, now Minister of Transportation, promised that her party would remove fish farms from coastal waters.

“Last week I sent a letter to Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham seeking clarity on when and how the government intends to keep its commitment on this promise. Today in question period, I asked Minister Popham whether her government still intends to end the use of open net fish farms along the migratory paths of wild salmon during this government’s mandate.”

In her response, Minister Popham referenced plans to work with federal and First Nations governments and an upcoming report.

“While this is no doubt a complex multi-jurisdictional issue, the provincial government must play a leading role. The province needs to actively advocate for British Columbian values. They must push the federal government to adopt policies that will protect the wild salmon that are foundational to our coastal communities and ecosystems. I will continue to work with governments and stakeholders to keep this issue a priority.”

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Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca