EDITORIAL: Ministry of Food

We believe it would be better to shift priorities, hack at existing government ministries, than create a new bureaucracy

Like many words in our language, ‘progressive’ has a number of definitions.

Oxford has at least five, including a reference to rock music in the 1970s.

We have heard the word frequently in recent years, used in different ways by different people with different agendas. Politically, it has been used to suggest change, innovation and/or social reform.

(An aside: for decades there was a federal entity called the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. Is that not an oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp?)

New Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been called progressive. Those left of centre on the political spectrum seem to love the word, hugging it like it gives them a sense of moral superiority.

Are higher taxes and more government progressive ideas? Really? It looks from here like the easy way out, not a forward-thinking solution to any of society’s challenges.

Reporter Candace Wu’s series on food banks and food insecurity started today on page A5. The chief source for the first part of the series speaks about raising taxes so governments can do better to ensure more people are getting enough nutritious food.

We agree with former UBC professor and Qualicum Beach resident Graham Riches that it’s shameful a rich country like Canada sees about 850,000 people a month make use of food banks, 30 per cent of those being children.

If we believed the money from a tax hike would go directly to feeding the hungry, we would almost favour the idea. Cynical as this may be, we don’t trust government to do that job, to use all of that money for food.

Governments are nation builders. A new, tax-fed Ministry of Food (for lack of a better term) would have a minister, a deputy minister, two or three assistant deputy ministers and dozens upon dozens of workers making government union wages. That’s millions of dollars each year from the budget of the Ministry of Food that does not go to food.

We believe it would be better to shift priorities, hack at existing government ministries, create a department dedicated to feeding people in B.C. We agree with Riches and others that this — ensuring people have nutritious food daily — should be a priority. We do not agree that government — or more accurately, more government — is the answer.

The current B.C. government has 19 ministries. It’s difficult to argue any of them (perhaps Health and Education) are focussed on, and spending money on, issues that are more important than food.

— Editorial by John Harding

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