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N.L. MHA named ag, forestry secretary

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams has given his deputy a parliamentary secretary to help mind the agrifoods and forestry file.

Steve Kent, the rookie MHA for Mount Pearl North, was named Wednesday as the parlimentary secretary to the minister responsible for the Forestry and Agrifoods Agency, Deputy Premier Kathy Dunderdale.

The Forestry and Agrifoods Agency was set up in 2007 within the provincial department of natural resources, also one of Dunderdale’s portfolios, to address “emerging priorities” in the farming and forestry sectors.

At that time, the province’s ag industry was valued at about $500 million a year and directly or indirectly supported about 6,200 jobs, mainly in rural areas.

Kent, first elected to the provincial House of Assembly in October 2007, entered politics in 1997 as the deputy mayor of the city of Mount Pearl, just southwest of St. John’s. He then served as the community’s mayor from 2003 to 2007.

A management and marketing consultant by profession, Kent in 2006 set up The Focus Group, a consulting firm for companies in the private and volunteer sectors. He and his wife also operate the Young Drivers of Canada driver training centres in Newfoundland.

Kent was also nationally known as a youth volunteer, having been named Mount Pearl’s Youth of the Year from 1992 to 1996 and twice as its Youth Volunteer of the Year, also earning the national YTV Achievement Award for Public Service in 1996.

Kent in December 1999 was also named by Maclean’s magazine as one of the top 100 Canadians to watch for in the next century.

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