This past Wednesday was Beef Day, a day of celebration, started six or seven years ago at the provincial legislature by the provincial government in response to pressure by the ranching industry.
This year the proclamation dedicating the day was presented to Ray Sanders, the director of the Williams Lake campus of Thompson Rivers University, the home campus of the Applied Sustainable Ranching (ASUR) program.
Readers may remember that it was the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association that pointedly invited TRU to develop a local, hands on practical course that would help prepare another generation of ranchers to take over some of the family livestock enterprises and farming ventures.
The day also celebrated the development of a system of beef raised and processed entirely in B.C. for B.C. consumers. This is part of a B.C. food security strategy.
Various beef industry groups got together to lobby government on the many issues important to their industry and farms in general.
Among the many meetings with government ministers, official opposition critics, and officials was a meeting with the ministers of agriculture, advanced education, and small business (Cariboo North MLA, Coralee Oakes) and Donna Barnett, MLA for Cariboo Chilcotin, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development.
The program manager, Jill Watt, and several students, plus members of the Industry Advisory Committee to the program attended this meeting. I am sure that it was a great learning experience for the students. Government was thanked and small asks were put before the ministers.
For me, it was a whole tsunami of memories flooding over me. Time has only partially blotted out the remembrance of the cuts and thrusts of parliament’s verbal “sword fighting.” It is true that the distance between the government benches and the opposition benches is a few sword lengths.
By the way, it is good thing parliamentarians are not armed, given the incident Wednesday in the federal parliament with the Prime Minister pushing and roughing it up with other members.
All the way down to Victoria I saw first crops of hay put up, strawberries at market and full blossom on the Broome. Just a reminder that we farm in the North.
The “coup de grace” for me was sitting on the floor of the legislature where former members get to sit and witnessing the grueling question period that where opposition members try to pin down cabinet ministers on the issues of the day.
When I entered that chamber as a minister, it was usually with a lot of Adrenalin running in my veins, ready to verbally fight back after some attack from the opposition benches. No adrenalin this time. Thankfully memories don’t create the same anxiety as the former reality did.
Many members asked me if I missed the place. The answer was a resounding “no.”
David Zirnhelt is a member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association and chair of the advisory committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching program which started at Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake this January.