B.C. Agriculture Minister Pat Pimm has asked B.C.'s Conflict of Interest Commissioner for an opinion on his controversial approaches to the Agricultural Land Commission.

Pimm’s conduct with ALC referred to conflict commissioner

Premier Clark won't fire agriculture minister, awaits guidance

Premier Christy Clark is refusing to fire Agriculture Minister Pat Pimm for lobbying the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) over a decision regarding Fort St. John farmland, despite repeated calls for his resignation.

Clark said Tuesday Pimm has referred his conduct to B.C.’s Conflict of Interest Commissioner for an opinion and to provide guidance on how far MLAs can legitimately go in interacting with the ALC.

“I understand that the ALC is absolutely an independent body,” Clark told reporters.

“Its independence must be respected. At the same time MLAs must be able to bring forward concerns and issues on behalf of their constituents as Mr. Pimm did.”

Clark said Pimm was acting as MLA on behalf of a constituent when he wrote a letter to the ALC in support of a proposed rodeo grounds on 70 hectares of land in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Some of Pimm’s lobbying took place after being elected MLA for Peace River North May 15 but before being named to cabinet in June.

But Pimm’s ministerial staff also contacted the ALC on the issue after he became minister, including twice on July 25 seeking an early sign of the commission’s decision.

That prompted the ALC to issue an unusual rebuke that his approaches were “not appropriate.”

NDP leader Adrian Dix said Pimm “clearly broke the rules” and can’t continue to serve as agriculture minister after the reprimand by the ALC.

“He responded to that by secretly pushing a cabinet document that would take away the independence of the Agricultural Land Commission,” Dix said, referring to a leaked cabinet document indicating the government may consider splitting the ALR into two zones and bringing the ALC into the ministry’s control.

Bill Bennett, minister in charge of the province’s core review, has denied there are plans to weaken the ALC or end its independence.

Dix said Pimm’s backing of the Fort St. John proposal apparently inspired the proponent to begin setting up the rodeo park in defiance of the ALC’s Aug. 19 decision refusing to allow it as a non-farm use.

New Democrats also argue a directive from Pimm’s ministry shutting down ALR boundary improvement work by the ALC in the Kootenays is another sign the province’s core review is poised to recommend radically altering the farmland reserve and commission.

Dix noted two reviews of the ALC before the election – one by the auditor general in 2010 and a later one ordered by government – led the province to pledge more money to bolster the commission’s work protecting the ALR and reviewing its boundaries.

“After the election, they’re doing precisely the opposite and trying to get away with it in secret and improper ways,” Dix said. “That’s a deliberate deception of voters.”

Dix said he’s not sure what B.C.’s conflict commissioner can say on Pimm’s conduct, since he’s accused of interfering with the independence of a quasi-judicial body, rather than personally gaining from a conflict-of-interest situation.

IntegrityBC executive director Dermod Travis called the referral an attempt by Pimm to buy time, noting the ALC’s policy statement already clearly states elected officials are limited to specific channels in attempting to influence ALC decisions.

“Mr. Pimm is doing little more than forum shopping, hoping to find an opinion somewhere that will exonerate his ‘inappropriate’ actions with the ALC,” Travis said.

Just Posted

Column: themes from the 2017 B.C. Flood and Wildfire Report

Columnist Jim Hilton offers an overview of the new fire and flood report’s 14 Strategic Shifts

Big victory for Quesnel’s U16 girls softball team in Kamloops

Unstoppable bats and a gem from Musselman propelled the girls to the win

Local athletes impress on Day 1 of Zone track and field event

CSS, QJS students showed off impressive skill as Quesnel hosts North Central Zone Championships

Tsilhqot’in community names officially recognized by Province

Tsilhqot’in names will now appear on provincial government resources, maps and databases

Editorial: respect where it’s due

Quesnel’s youth are impressive in their maturity and eloquence

VIDEO: Canadian Forces help flood-ravaged Grand Forks residents heal

Sgt. Bradley Lowes says the military is used to dealing with traumatic times

Chilliwack Chiefs make history with first RBC Cup win

In front of a huge and noisy crowd, the Chiefs claimed their first-ever national junior A title.

UPDATED: Majority of flood evacuees in Kootenay-Boundary allowed to return home

Officials hope to have all 3,000 people back in their homes by Monday night

B.C. Lions bring back 6-time all-star offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye

He was acquired by the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Whitecaps rally for 2-2 draw with FC Dallas

Vancouver climbed out of a two-nil hole to tie FC Dallas 2-2

B.C. VIEWS: Making sense of climate policy

Flood and fire predictions have poor track record so far

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

Wellington Dukes pull off epic upset of Wenatchee at RBC Cup

The Dukes are off to the championship game after downing the Wild 2-1 Saturday at Prospera Centre.

Most Read