editorial 

It’s getting awfully difficult to differentiate Glen Clark and his NDP government from any of the Social Credit governments the current premier used to attack for lack of ethics. As if it wasn’t difficult enough to have some certainty about land use issues in B.C., last week Clark and some of his cabinet ministers did a reverse-full-twisting quad that any freestyle aerialist would be proud of. I’m speaking of the government’s decision to invoke a "provincial interest" clause to take a land use decision in the Kamloops area away from the agricultural land commission. There’s a proposal for a $180 million condo-golf resort-ranch on agricultural reserve land surrounding Kamloops Lake. The commission said no, the land was too valuable as ranch land. But the government stepped in — where no provincial government has stepped before — and overruled the commission. Previously, the only two ways a commission decision could be overturned were through an independent arbitrator or through public hearings. This time Premier Clark made the call from Argentina, where he’s on tour with the Team Canada trade mission, and said it was in the provincial interest. Exactly what the provincial interest is has not been made clear — except that the proposed resort is in Environment Minister Cathy McGregor’s riding, so it would be in her provincial interest. "This is me acting as MLA in the best interests of me and my community," McGregor told a newspaper. That’s almost as good a quote as David Zirnhelt’s: "Never forget, government can do anything." McGregor’s parliamentry secretary, Joan Sawicki, resigned over the matter, saying: "I’m concerned it sets a really dangerous precedent for other developers who may also wish to circumvent the agricultural land commission. I don’t think this is a unique case." Sawicki is right, and one of the agricultural land reserves under most intense pressure, outside of the Lower Mainland, is the Pemberton Valley. With the boom in housing in Pemberton, and prices climbing faster than Whistler’s, what’s to keep a cash-starved provincial government from invoking its "provincial interest" clause in the Pemberton Valley when the right type of development proposal comes along? It’s ironic, too, that McGregor — who has hardly been heard from since she was appointed to cabinet — feels compelled to speak out when there’s a resort development in her riding, yet she has refused to get involved in a resort proposal such as the Cayoosh ski area that is bogged down in her own ministry’s bureaucracy. Even the fact that the Cayoosh proposal is strongly supported by the town of Lillooet and sits in an NDP hasn’t moved the minister. It’s quite simply a case of the minister and her government acting in their own best interest. And they said the Socreds had no morals.

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