Skip to content

Kelowna chapter hosts fired defender of agricultural land

The Council of Canadians Kelowna chapter will be hosting a public forum featuring Richard Bullock on April 1.

Chapter activist Karen Abramsen notes, “Bullock is a Kelowna agriculturist with significant knowledge of orchard and agri-tourism operations. Mr. Bullock has extensive experience in international consulting including the production and processing of agricultural crops.”

In May 2015, the Globe and Mail reported, “Richard Bullock, the outspoken chair of B.C.’s Agricultural Land Commission [an independent tribunal that is responsible for preserving agricultural land], says he was fired in a brief phone call shortly before the government issued a statement saying he’d been replaced. Mr. Bullock had been in the job for five years and his term wasn’t due to expire until November. …Mr. Bullock said he had no regrets about speaking out in defence of the commission, as he did frequently over the past year while the government pursued controversial policy changes that many critics saw as a strategy to strip the commission of much of its powers.”

NDP agriculture critic Lana Popham has commented, “By firing him the B.C. Liberals are continuing their war on B.C.’s agricultural land. Bullock is a true champion for agriculture, who is respected by all sectors of the agriculture industry for his expertise and fair-mindedness. …By replacing B.C.’s agricultural watchdog with someone with no background in agriculture, the B.C. Liberals are making it clear that their attack on the Agricultural Land Reserve has only just begun.”

A CBC article explains, “The Agricultural Land Commission, formerly known as the Agricultural Land Reserve, was created by the NDP in the early 70s to protect B.C.’s farmland from industrial and urban development.” And the Agricultural Land Commission website notes, “The Agricultural Land Reserve is a provincial land-use zone where agriculture is the priority use. The Agricultural Land Reserve comprises just 5% of BC’s total land base and is the area with the greatest agricultural capacity. As a finite and valuable resource, the province has decided to protect this land.”

In July, after he was fired, Bullock stated, “There’s going to be huge pressure put on those lands particularly in the northeast with LNG and oil being such a dominant force within our government today.”

Bullock has also been speaking out against the Site C dam on Treaty 8 territory in northeastern British Columbia. Last month, Vice News reported, “Former Agricultural Land Commission chairman Richard Bullock said it would be a ‘tragedy’ and ‘probably a sin against humanity’ to flood the Peace River Valley. …Once built, BC Hydro’s Site C dam will flood an estimated 13,600 acres of fertile farmland, old growth forest, fish habitat, First Nations territory and archaeological sites to replace a portion of the Peace River with a 50-mile long reservoir.”

A recent letter to the editor in the Alaska Highway News noted, “Last summer, the Liberal government bypassed the Agricultural Land Commission and removed almost 4,000 hectares of the Peace River valley from the Agricultural Land Reserve in a hastily-called cabinet meeting. Soon after, the chairman of the Agricultural Land Commission, Richard Bullock, was fired and replaced by a tire store manager, Frank Leonard.”

The Council of Canadians believes in the protection of farmland. As noted in the Leap Manifesto, “We must develop a more localized and ecologically-based agricultural system to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, absorb shocks in the global supply – and produce healthier and more affordable food for everyone.”

The Kelowna chapter event takes place this Friday at 7 p.m. at the East Kelowna Community Hall, 2704 East Kelowna Rd.

All are welcome and admission is by donation.

For more from Brent, follow him on Twitter at @CBrentPatterson