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B.C. names new agriculture minister

British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell has named Nanaimo-Parksville MLA Ron Cantelon as the province’s new minister of agriculture and lands, replacing the late Stan Hagen.

Cantelon, an MLA since May 2005 and formerly a manager for real estate network Re/Max, entered politics in 1999 as a city councillor in Nanaimo, about 100 km north of Victoria on Vancouver Island.

His agriculture resume includes a stint on the B.C. Agriculture Plan Committee and the Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture.

“Ron has played an important role in the development of agriculture and aquaculture policy and his experience will help advance government’s priorities in this important area,” Campbell said in a release Friday.

The agriculture and lands portfolio covers B.C. agriculture, aquaculture, food industry development, animal health and crop protection, food safety and quality, allocation of Crown land, commercial fisheries and fish processing, aquaculture licensing and regulation, soil management, weed control, crop insurance and the Integrated Land Management Bureau.

The ag ministry also oversees the B.C. Farm Industry Review Board, Agriculture Land Commission, B.C. Wine Institute and Muskwa Kechika Advisory Board.

“Agriculture, aquaculture and the management of Crown lands play an important role in British Columbia’s economy and I look forward to carrying on the great work of ministers such as Stan Hagen,” said Cantelon.

“There is tremendous diversity and quality in British Columbia’s agriculture products and more and more people are taking pride in buying locally grown food.”

Cantelon’s previous experience as a community-level booster earned him Tourism Nanaimo’s Citizen of the Year award in 1999.

His appointment as agriculture and lands minister follows Stan Hagen’s sudden death Jan. 20. Solicitor General John van Dongen has overseen the portfolio on an interim basis in the two weeks since then.

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