Lekstrom’s Anti-Agriculture Stance Raises Eyebrows
for immediate release

Fort St. John, BC, April 23, 2010: Energy Minister Blair Lekstrom revealed a startling disregard for the value of agriculture in British Columbia. Speaking on CBC Radio’s BC Almanac, Thursday April 23rd, Minister Lekstrom dismissed concerns about flooding over 7,000 acres of Class 1 and 2 farmland1 in the Peace Valley on the basis that farmers are already struggling financially. In response to a listener’s question on how the government could justify destroying important farmland, Lekstrom stated, “it is very difficult to make a living farming.” Does the Energy Minister really believe the solution to the difficulties faced by Canadian farmers (crop failures and inclement weather, Mad Cow disease, international subsidies that make it hard to compete, and a marketing system that favours foreign factory farms) lies in simply destroying the land?

When it comes to agriculture, Mr. Lekstrom would be well advised to look where the puck is going, not where it has been. Speaking in Dawson Creek last September, noted Canadian military historian, Gwynne Dyer, and author of Climate Wars2, pointed out that governments around the world are attempting to prepare for a future where droughts resulting from climate change increasingly spawn famines and regional conflicts. In response to a question from the audience regarding flooding Class 1 and 2 agricultural lands in the Peace Valley, Dyer suggested that given the pace that climate change impacts are occurring, within two years there would be no appetite for destroying high-quality Canadian farmland. In his book, Why Your World Is About to Get A Whole Lot Smaller3, former Chief Economist at CIBC World Markets, Jeff Rubin states that “Energy and food inflation are inextricably linked.” He warns that the inevitable rise in the price of oil as supplies dwindle will result in a return to producing food locally. Shipping romaine lettuce around North America from California in July will soon be a thing of the past.

The agricultural potential of the Peace River valley, within the proposed Site C flood reserve, has been recognized for well over a century.4 In Geography of British Columbia: People and Landscapes in Transition5, Brett McGillivray states that the proposed Site C dam would flood “some of the finest agricultural land in the province.” Thanks to the high-quality soils, the warm Pacific air that flows east through the gap in the Rocky Mountains created by the Peace River valley, and the long summer days at 56°N latitude, farmers in the Site C flood reserve can already grow cantaloupe in their gardens. Their land has the ability to provide northern British Columbians with a “Hundred-Mile Diet” vastly more varied than surrounding areas could support.

Mr. Lekstrom owes it to the current and future citizens of British Columbia to become better informed on the serious issues facing our ability to grow food in the 21st Century.  Perhaps then he will not think flooding out farmers in the Peace River valley is the answer.