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Hagen renamed B.C. ag minister in shuffle

A former British Columbia agriculture minister will take on the portfolio again in a cabinet shuffle Monday by Premier Gordon Campbell.

Comox Valley MLA Stan Hagen, who has been Campbell’s minister for tourism, sport and the arts since 2006, takes over from Pat Bell as minister of agriculture and lands.

Bell, the Prince George MLA who had held the ag portfolio since 2005, moves to the forests and range portfolio.

Hagen, who moved to the Comox area in 1968, worked in the construction industry and launched a ready-mix company. He was elected as the area’s Social Credit MLA in 1986 and served in then-premier Bill Vander Zalm’s caucus before he and the party were defeated by the NDP in 1991.

After a stint as general manager of a paving company, Hagen was re-elected as the area’s Liberal MLA in 2001 and 2005, and served in several ministerial portfolios.

Hagen was named to the agriculture portfolio in 2003, when then-minister John van Dongen temporarily stepped aside during a police investigation over an aquaculture file he handled in 2001.

Campbell’s cabinet shuffle, in which five new ministers were named and seven moved to different portfolios, comes with less than a year remaining before the province’s next election, scheduled for May 12, 2009. Campbell said the move would “provide more integrated services across government.”

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