Donna Barnett (l) with Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon after being sworn in as Minister of State for Rural Economic Development on October 21.

Rural voice is now stronger in Victoria with new Rural Economic Development portfolio

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett is now a Minister of State, giving rural communities an advocate at the cabinet table.

Rural B.C. will have a stronger presence in Victoria with the creation of a Minister of State for Rural Economic Development, a new portfolio under the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO). The announcement was made by Premier Christy Clark on October 21.

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett was sworn in as the new Minister of State the same day. The appointment is an expansion of the role that Barnett, who is in her second term as an MLA, already plays in Victoria, says a spokesperson for the premier’s office. Barnett was parliamentary secretary to FLNRO minister Steve Thompson for more than two years, and has a long association with rural issues.

“I’ve always worked hard for rural B.C.,” she told The Journal. “Now I’ll be able to work at the cabinet table and have more independent discretion and a louder voice.

“Rural communities are the economic driver of the province. The biggest issue is getting people all over B.C. to understand that without rural resources, our economy is in trouble. Rural communities have always been the economic engine of the province, and we have to continue to support our resource sector.”

The new portfolio is intended to address the challenges facing rural B.C. A government spokesperson says that while the province is doing very well overall, rural communities are facing some real challenges. “If you’re in a forestry or mining town, you know that the global resource economy is weak, and that global appetite for our products is down. The new portfolio shows a sensitivity to the challenge B.C. is facing.”

Cache Creek mayor John Ranta is pleased with the appointment. “Good for her. She has always been an important advocate for rural communities.”

Ranta adds that he has long realized that the sustainability of rural communities is very important. “If they continue to decline in population, where will people who work in the resource sector live? People in Vancouver think they drive the economy of the province, but in my view rural communities drive the economy.

“It’s important for the sustainability of urban centres to have a strong rural economy. Without the rest of the province, Vancouver would not be sustainable.”

“We all have to work together,” says Barnett. “And now I’ll be able to work with my rural colleagues at even greater length.”

 

Just Posted

Quilter’s placemat project brightens Maeford Place table settings

Quesnel quilter creates placemats for senior residents at Maeford Place

Letter: raising minimum wage was one of first acts of new government

Improving affordability for people is one of NDP government’s key priorities

Students show focus in annual Elementary School Cross-country Ski races

Students age five to 12 competed at Hallis Lake on Feb. 17

Quesnel Hospital Auxiliary always busy and put in 12,000 volunteer hours in 2017

Winter can be a time of quiet reflection on the past and where we are today

VIDEO: B.C. superfans soak in 2018 PyeongChang Olympics

Trio, including two from the Okanagan, have been cheering on Summerland Olympian Kripps among others in Korea

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

B.C. ski cross racer wins Olympic gold

Kelowna’s Kelsey Serwa wins the gold medal in thrilling fashion in PyeongChang

Via Rail’s unofficial travelling art program

Jasper-Prince Rupert train has a car dedicated to art offered by the one-of-a-kind Bruce Brown

New charges against ex-Trump campaign associates

More charges were laid Thursday against President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman and his business associate

Man accused in death of Winnipeg teen Tina Fontaine not guilty

Raymond Cormier was accused of killing Indigenous 15-year-old and dumping her body in the Red River

Okanagan real estate agents brace for speculation tax impact

“There’s a real potential for a domino effect to hurt the market in Kelowna.”

Alberta drops B.C. wine boycott, Notley says Horgan ‘blinked’ on pipeline

B.C. government announces court reference on proposed diluted bitumen restriction

B.C. businesses say new health tax will raise prices for consumers

Province announced that MSP will be gone by 2020

Most Read