B.C. names new ag minister in shuffle

A Kelowna businessman and former city councilor becomes British Columbia’s latest minister of agriculture in another cabinet shuffle by Premier Christy Clark.

Wednesday’s shuffle sees Norm Letnick, the MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country, take over as ag minister from Comox Valley MLA Don McRae, who’s been moved to the education portfolio.

Letnick, like McRae, is a relative rookie in the B.C. Liberal caucus; both were first elected to the legislature in 2009.

In the legislature, Letnick has served as chair of the select standing committee on parliamentary reform, ethical conduct, standing orders and private bills and as president of the B.C. section of the Assemblee parlementaire de la francophonie, an international group of francophone legislators.

An instructor in the business program at Okanagan College, Letnick has a bachelor of commerce degree from the University of Calgary and an MBA from Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh, and is working toward a Ph.D. in health economics at UBC Okanagan.

Letnick served on Kelowna’s city council from 2005 to 2008, on top of two terms in the 1990s as a city councillor in Banff, Alta., where he owned two H+R Block franchises, a Motorola dealership and a computer store and was president of the Banff Housing Corporation.

Before entering politics, Letnick also represented the central Okanagan on the province’s single business license implementation committee.

Other former B.C. ag ministers remaining at Clark’s cabinet table include Ben Stewart as minister of citizens’ services and open government; Steve Thomson as minister of forests, lands and natural resource operations; and Pat Bell as minister for the “realigned” department of jobs, tourism and skills training, and as minister responsible for labour.

Clark on Wednesday also named another former ag minister, Ron Cantelon, as parliamentary secretary for innovation and technology, reporting to John Yap, minister of advanced education, innovation and technology.

B.C.’s agriculture ministry also includes responsibility for the province’s Agricultural Land Commission, Farm Industry Review Board and B.C. Wine Institute, as well as commercial fisheries, fish processing, marine fisheries and seafood industry development.

Related story:
Island MLA named B.C. ag minister in shuffle, March 14, 2011

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