Nelson-Creston NDP MLA Michelle Mungall met with party supporters

Nelson-Creston NDP MLA Michelle Mungall met with party supporters

Cabinet appointment panned

An NDP MLA believes the naming of a political rookie as the province’s new agriculture minister is a disservice to the industry.

Michelle Mungall, Nelson-Creston NDP MLA, who was in Vernon for meetings Tuesday, thinks new premier Christy Clark’s decision to name Don McRae, MLA for Comox Valley, as the new agriculture minister was simply to subvert the recall campaign being led against McRae.

Clark appointed McRae to her cabinet Monday after she was sworn in as the province’s new premier.

“People in the industry now have to build another relationship with another new minister,” said Mungall during a stop at the Red Barn Family Restaurant.

“They have to work with somebody who has no background in agriculture.”

McRae had been the convener of the select standing committee on aboriginal affairs, and a member of the select standing committees on finance – along with Mungall – and health and government services before being named agriculture minister.

“Christy Clark overlooked Okanagan MLAs Ben Stewart (Westside-Kelowna) and Steve Thomson (Kelowna-Mission), both of whom are former agriculture ministers,” said Mungall.

“She overlooked John Van Dongen who is passionate about agriculture and knows the farming community inside out.

“Christy Clark chose politics over pragmatism and the people of B.C. are going to lose out.”

Mungall is the NDP’s advanced education deputy critic and chair of the women’s caucus. She also has a passion for agriculture.

Mungall met Tuesday with representatives of the Sustainable Environment Network Society, a local organization that promotes solutions to environmental problems and provides a healthy, sustainable future for the community.

She promoted a 17-page report she had commissioned in 2010 called the Kootenay Lake Regional Food System.

The report looks at how the provincial government can support and grow the food system through the building of infrastructure and networks.

“I thought it was important to show the report to SENS as they work on a network that’s also concerned about food security,” said Mungall, who met with half-a-dozen supporters at the Red Barn.

Asked, as an education critic, what she thought of Clark’s appointing Shuswap MLA George Abbott to the post of education minister – the same position he held before he resigned to run for premier – Mungall said it was no surprise.

“George has a tough road ahead what with negotiations with teachers for a collective agreement coming up,” she said.

“That’s not going to be easy. Education was poorly treated under Gordon Campbell and the teachers stood up for education. I hope George puts pragmatism ahead of politics.”