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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

VOL. 96 NO. 97

$ 19

1 + 5% GST

The race is on Pat Simpson, left and Raelene Lorenzo work hard to piece together the challenging puzzle at RONA Home Centre Saturday during Quesnel’s first Amazing Race fundraiser. They were the second highest fundraising team bringing $975 to the event. The Canadian Cancer Society and Quesnel and District Palliative Care Society event in partnership with the Quesnel Cariboo Observer raised almost $11,000 for the two organizations. For more coverage see PAGE A3. Annie Gallant photo

Agriculture critic on fact-finding mission MAX SUSSMAN Observer Reporter NDP agriculture critic Lana Popham sees a dire future for B.C. agriculture if more government support isn’t forthcoming. Popham, in her first tour of B.C.’s vast range land, stopped at a Quesnel-area ranch Friday along with NDP Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson. A first term MLA, Popham is excited to have been appointed to a position directly related to her livelihood as a private citizen. She owns a smallscale grape farm in Brentwood Bay, on Vancouver

Island’s Saanich Peninsula. While she is a young politician, taking on the role as agricultural critic comes naturally to Popham. “I’ve always been an activist, an environmental activist, a food and security activist,” Popham said. A certified organic farmer, she does more than just talk the talk. When the opportunity came to make the jump from the private-sector into public office, Popham sprang. “I thought, you know, this is it. For years now I’ve been working from the outside in, and maybe it’s time to work from the inside out and try to struc-

“Growing Our Future” 2009 Quesnel Fall Fair 26th Annual Sept. 5 & 6,2009 Alex Fraser Park

ture policy and influence it that way,” she said. After campaigning with an agricultural focus during the May election, Popham’s appointment as agricultural critic was a good fit. “My biggest thrill was to be appointed the agriculture critic. I’m doing exactly what I wanted to do.” But this wasn’t Popham’s first campaign. She ran in a Saanich municipal election, with only her mother as campaign manager and no other help. When she decided to run for provincial office, “I thought I probably need a bigger team.”

Her tour with Simpson has taken Popham from Kamloops through Cache Creek and as far north as Quesnel, visiting produce farms and meat abattoirs alike. “He’s been amazing with connecting me to people he’s had connections with over the years,” said Popham. “It’s been a great tour,” Simpson said. “I’ve been impressed with the depth of the questions Lana’s asking. She comes in with a lot of background in agriculture and organizational-level experience. “The kind of personality you’re dealing with,

PALACE CLOSING ............ A7 4-H ACHIEVEMENT ......... A15 ARCHERY GOLD..............A18

people try to discount her, then they realize she knows what she’s talking about.” Popham has already had a face-to-face chat with Agriculture and Lands Minister Steve Thomson, and is optimistic about working positively across party lines with him. “Politics may get in the way, because that’s the name of the game we’re in, but we have to work together to improve agriculture,” she said. What has she learned that she’ll take into her first session in Victoria? “It’s the same with what is being talked about on

Vancouver Island, where I’m from. “With every new budget, there’s less and less support for agriculture.” With such lack of support, Popham sees the situation as heading towards an even more dire place. “The agricultural potential of the province is greatly diminishing,” she said. “When I’m done, I want to be able to look back and say the agricultural sector is better than it was when I was elected. “I have learned a lot on this trip, so I’m going to continue to do these trips.”

Billy Barker Showroom presents...

Yuk Yuks

on tour August 13th. Tickets: $10.00 ea. Doors open at 6:30 pm. Show starts at 7:30 pm. To view the showroom or discuss booking details; please contact us at or call 250-992-3522

250-992-5533, 308 McLean St. Downtown

or visit the hotel desk at the Billy Barker Casino Hotel.