Richard Brown’s attempt to sell Wade MacLauchlan’s rejection of a land banking system last night (Thursday, April 3, 2019) on CBC’s Compass program was excruciating to watch.
Why was Brown interviewed instead of Wade? He’s not the leader of the Liberal Party. The leaders of the other Parties made themselves available for an interview, declaring essentially the same message: the time has clearly come to implement a Land Banking system in PEI.
Premier MacLauchlan’s absence on Compass last night – along with his refusal to participate in the upcoming Leader’s debate on protecting PEI’s land next Tuesday at the Murchinson Centre – is very troubling indeed. It’s like Wade is living in a completely different universe from the rest of us, peopled exclusively by entrepreneurs and industry executives aspiring to be wealthy and powerful winners in a global economy.
Rather than appearing on PEI’s suppertime news, or attending debates organized by grassroots voluntary organizations, Premier MacLauchlan has chosen to align himself with one and only one perspective: the “Partnership for Growth.” And he apparently intends to do his campaigning from the safe distance of a Guest Opinion in the Guardian.
In fact, Premier MacLauchlan has an article in today’s Guardian (April 5, 2019) titled “Partnership for Growth: An Economic Action Plan Within Six Months.” In it he declares that the Liberal Party is “very supportive” of the vision of the Partnership for Growth coalition comprised of 20 business groups, and promises to immediately establish an “economic task force” to develop an “economic action plan” for the Island as soon as he’s re-elected Premier.
His task force will have its main representation from the Partnership for Growth, as well as from the Federation of Municipalities, Indigenous groups, post-secondary institutions, and federal partners with “economic mandates.” Not a single organization is named for his task force having anything to do with farming, fishing, forestry or protecting land, water and trees!
Not one of the following words can be found in his election platform treatise mapping out his “visionary” way forward for PEI: land, soil, water, trees, agriculture, forestry, farming, farmer, fisher, or environment. Like I said, it’s like he’s living in a parallel universe!
Can Wade really be that unaware of the urgent crises (plural) currently facing our land? What could possibly be on his agenda that’s more important? Well, it appears it was the time he needed to write his Guest Opinion giving us the tools we need so we, as he puts it, can “aggressively implement” an economic growth strategy so “…we will once again outperform our global competitors.” Really? What a display of disconnected, abstract and delusional thinking…..what a display of hubris!
With Wade’s focus being so far from our primary industries and public trusts like land and water, I suppose it was predictable that he would conclude he was too busy penning his Magnum Opus to be bothered talking about land, so he told Richard what to say, then sent him on off to do the CBC interview.
It was clear from Brown’s facial expressions, anxious disposition, and overall sullen demeanour that he didn’t believe a single word he was saying as he dutifully took exactly the opposite stand on land banking from what he told farmers with gleeful enthusiasm just a year earlier, presenting as Wade’s spokesperson for a policy he personally doesn’t believe is good for PEI. That’s both a little sad, and a lot disturbing!
Minister Brown is likely hoping that what he said about land banking to a relatively-small group of farmers at the Annual District Convention of the National Farmers Union at the Milton Community Hall last year has long-since been forgotten. No chance!
While listening to his Compass interview, bits and pieces of his words of praise for a land banking system from a year ago echoed through the back of my mind, and I thought to myself: “Why the heck didn’t I record that!”
Then it dawned on me: “I think I did!”
So I went hunting for my now-defunct android mobile phone, fired it up, and lo and behold, after scrolling through hundreds of files buried in subfolders, I finally found it, was able to transfer it to my computer, edit out the clip, and upload it to Youtube.
But before you read a transcript of what Richard said about the merits of an agricultural land banking system a year ago – and his Liberal government’s past promise to establish a land bank, which was apparently embedded in a previous Liberal Party election platform – watch a short clip of what Brown said last night on Compass:
Now here’s a verbatim transcript of what he said at the NFU Convention on April 3, 2018:
Richard Brown: “But one of the things you have to answer for me is…when a, when a farmer works all his life, hard, hard, hard all his life….and he’s ready to retire…and he wants to sell his farm, ya know, should I interfere with the price? If you guys can answer that for me…make a recommendation, we’ll take a look at it.
Reg Phelan (Regional Director, NFU): We have actually made recommendations on that several times..it’s the land banking concept
Richard Brown: Yeah, and going back to the old Land Development Corporation which I think was a tremendous idea here on Prince Edward Island. It was in one of our Throne Speeches I think, and an election commitment, and I think we’d go one step further (and I’m maybe getting looks from the Minister of Agriculture) but ya know, I would love to be able to have a big land bank, and not sell it, lease it back to the farmers here in Prince Edward Island, and it stays in the public interest, and that agricultural land will be farmed by farmers through a lease program, and not purchased, because the minute it is repurchased, it can be sold again.
Personally I would be more then willing to look at an investment in land through a “banking” system that gave me a comparable return to the prime interest rate and government could help by making it a “tax free” investment. In fact I believe many islanders would be interested. I once heard that $90,000,000.00 leave our Island every year through “market” investment ie: mutual funds, and that most if not all business activity on PEI is actually too small to be able to access the advantages of those type of investment dollars. It would be my guess that government portions of public pensions ie: education, public sector, are part of that amount. Maybe, if offered, individuals would choose “Our Island” over bigger returns, interesting don’t you think?
Wow! What a flip-flop! Thank you for all the time you took to find that clip from the NFU. Would love to see Richard Brown’s face if he were to hear that played back. On the other hand, kind of feel sorry for him having to defend policies he doesn’t really believe in.