Organic vineyard operator now B.C.’s ag minister

Lana Popham. (B.C. NDP via Flickr, license at Creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

AGCanada.com – One of the operators of Vancouver Island’s first certified organic vineyard has been named British Columbia’s minister of agriculture as the opposition New Democrats take the governing reins.

Lana Popham, the MLA for the Vancouver Island riding of Saanich South, was named July 18 as ag minister in Premier John Horgan’s cabinet.

Horgan took over as premier after Christy Clark’s Liberals, who won a minority government in the May 9 provincial election, lost a non-confidence vote June 29 against the NDP and Green Party.

Born in Regina and raised on Quadra Island, Popham earned a geography degree from the University of British Columbia and moved to the Saanich area in 1996, where she co-founded Barking Dog Vineyard, now billed as the first certified organic vineyard on Vancouver Island.

Before entering provincial politics, Popham served on Saanich’s planning, transportation and economic development committee, the Peninsula Agricultural Commission and the Investment Agriculture Board.

She also served stints as president of the Vancouver Island Grape Growers Association and as chair of the certification committee for the Islands Organic Producers Association.

Popham first came to the B.C. legislature in 2009 and was named as agriculture and lands critic by then-leader Carole James. She was shuffled into the small business, tourism, arts and culture portfolios in 2013, but later returned to the ag critic post before the 2017 election.

Among other files of interest to B.C. farmers, the new minister of forests, lands, natural resource operations and rural development will be Doug Donaldson, MLA for the northwestern riding of Stikine.

Donaldson, before May’s election, was the NDP critic for energy and mines. He and his wife operate a small-scale farm at Hazelton, about 280 km northeast of Prince Rupert, where they grow produce and raise livestock.

Donaldson, a former consulting biologist, journalist and small business owner, served four terms as a municipal councillor in Hazelton before entering provincial politics in 2009.

This article originally appeared July 23 on AGCanada.com.