Minister Pat Pimm must resign for ALC interference: IntegrityBC

Group says ethical lapse crossed line, also taints potential government reform of farmland reserve

B.C. Agriculture Minister Pat Pimm is under fire for inappropriately lobbying the Agricultural Land Commission over the summer about a decision on farmland use near Fort St. John.

A non-partisan government watchdog says B.C. Agriculture Minister Pat Pimm must resign from cabinet for directly lobbying the Agricultural Land Commission.

IntegrityBC argues Pimm crossed a clear line requiring cabinet ministers not interfere with the independence of judges or quasi-judicial commissions like the ALC when he urged the commission over the spring and summer to reverse its decision against allowing a rodeo grounds and campground as a non-farm use on a parcel of Fort St. John farmland in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

“When a minister crosses that line, the minister resigns,” IntegrityBC executive director Dermod Travis said. “He didn’t cross it just once. He crossed it a multitude of times.

Pimm first wrote to the ALC on the issue May 17 as an MLA elect – two days after the provincial election – to express “concern” with the initial decision and in late May personally intercepted the ALC’s on-the-ground visit to the 70-hectare site to register his strong support for reversal.

Pimm’s staffers contacted the ALC once more in June and twice on July 25, when his ministerial assistant said Pimm wanted to know the outcome of the ALC’s reconsideration.

That led the ALC to issue a July 26 policy statement scolding Pimm’s representations as “not appropriate” lest it lead to an impression of the commission being politically influenced.

The ALC also said in its final Aug. 19 decision rejecting the rodeo use that any MLA who thinks a decision before the ALC is too significant to leave as an independent decision can try to persuade cabinet to take that file out of the commission’s hands.

It said the ALC exists as an independent entity to avoid basing farmland decisions on “the politically expedient, the crisis of the day or short-term profit that sacrifice agricultural land forever.

“The Commission exists precisely to prevent the British Columbia public waking up one day and asking ‘what happened to our agricultural land.'”

Pimm told CKNW Monday he has stopped making direct interventions in files with the ALC, but feels he did nothing wrong and was merely acting in his advocacy role as an MLA on an issue of local concern.

Travis said he clearly continued to act on the file after becoming minister in June.

Earlier this year, federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan resigned his post for inappropriately writing a letter in 2011 on behalf of a constituent regarding a case coming before the federal tax court.

Travis said Duncan quit quickly and honourably and Premier Christy Clark must insist Pimm do the same.

“If you have ministers running around thinking that it is okay to lobby judges, then we’re going to have a serious problem maintaining the separation of the two institutions.”

Travis said Pimm’s interference with the ALC also taints the government’s leaked plans to consider major changes to the commission, including potentially bringing it under the direct control of the agriculture ministry.

“Any changes that they consider will be looked at as Mr. Pimm trying to get back at the Agricultural Land Commission for rapping him on the knuckles,” Travis said.

“The entire process is now suspect. The government has no other option at this point but to pull it off the table.”

Bill Bennett, the minister in charge of the government’s core review, last week insisted the province isn’t considering dismantling the ALC or bringing it within government.

The leaked cabinet documents also indicated the province might separate the ALR into two zones to potentially offer looser treatment of farmland in the north and Interior, where Bennett says large amounts of unfarmable land is locked in the ALR.

Just Posted

Kitimat registers biggest drop in property assessments

The residential property in the north with the highest value was $2.892 million

Former mayor Ray Brady passes away

“What I can say is that he was passionate about his beliefs and he would fight for them.”

CDC’s housing section looking for new home

CDC executive director says it has until Jan. 31 to move out.

Shames Mountain named one of the world’s Top 10 ski resorts

The UK magazine listed Shames alongside Whistler and hills in Italy, Japan and Austria

Who wants to live here?

Northwest governments partner on marketing plan to attract workforce, residents

VIDEO: Orcas put on a show near Hornby Island

Louis Jobodin shares photos and video of his experience

Sunwing vacation passengers left at Abbotsford airport

YXX staffers receive praise for help to passengers; airline criticized

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag for Canada at 2018 Olympics

The pair earned a gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games

Diplomacy on agenda at North Korea summit in Vancouver

Foreign ministers from 20 countries are meeting Tuesday to discuss security and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Kids chained in Calif. house of horrors; parents arrested

Authorities say an emaciated teenager led deputies to home where her 12 brothers and sisters were locked up in filthy conditions

‘Reprehensible’: Trudeau abortion policy raises ire of U.S. right

“This man is reprehensible,” tweeted former White House staffer Sebastian Gorka

‘I shouldn’t have to have a husband:’ Winnipeg woman criticizes men-only club

Jodi Moskal discovered the Winnipeg Squash Racquet Club continues to ban women as members, as it has done since opening in 1909.

Japan public TV sends mistaken North Korean missile alert

The false alarm came two days after Hawaii’s emergency management department sent a mistaken warning

Most Read