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

Smithers Gallery Association cancels Divas Friends Variety Show

The gallery says they can’t find anyone to book artists. Also, a look at arts 2018 funding requests.

VIDEOS and PHOTOS: 20th anniversary of the Delgamuukw/Gisday’wa court decision celebrated

Chiefs and elders from different houses spoke at the feast discussing their memories of the case.

No charges against Smithers RCMP officer for in-custody death

The Independent Investigations Office conducted an investigation into the actions of the officer.

VIDEO: Researchers rely on drones to survey aftermath of B.C. wildfires

UBC researchers are using aerial drones to study the historic 2017 wildfires in the province

Pair of Bulkley Valley Otters named top swimmers

Zach Durnin was bronze medalist in 10 and under. Fergus Hobson, 16, took bronze in the senior boys.

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Family suspends search for missing Alberta couple, plane near Revelstoke

Due to bad weather, families of missing Albertan couple say they will resume in the spring

Canadian grocers make $3M per year from penny-rounding: UBC study

Ottawa announced plans in 2012 to phase out the copper coin

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

B.C. anti-hate campaigner finds Google search on his efforts redirects to porn

Text from online news article about Cran Campbell being used to link to suspect websites

‘The Last Jedi’ opens with $220M, 2nd best weekend all-time

As anticipated, the movie fell shy of the opening weekend for J.J. Abrams’ 2015 franchise reboot

2 couples tie the knot in Australia’s 1st same-sex weddings

West Australian couple Anne Sedgwick, Lyn Hawkins have been together for 40 years

B.C. concert promoter bans Nazi symbols at shows

A man was witnessed making a Nazi salute during a heavy metal show at Pub 340

Most Read