PEI

Agriculture minister says IRAC report into land transaction will be released

P.E.I.'s agriculture minister told the legislature his government will release a report by the Island Regulatory and Appeals commission related to a controversial corporate land transaction.

'No one in this house wants to release this report more than I do'

'I'm sure things will possibly end up in court so I have to be very careful what I say here,' Agriculture Minister Bloyce Thompson told the legislature. (Al MacCormack/CBC)

P.E.I.'s agriculture minister told the legislature his government will release a report by the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission related to a controversial corporate land transaction.

Minister Bloyce Thompson addressed the issue Wednesday, under questioning from the opposition.

Thompson requested the investigation in 2019, which focused on the transfer of 2,200 acres in Summerside and North Bedeque to a company now called Red Fox Acres.

IRAC sent the report to the minister last month. The minister then said he was waiting for the privacy commissioner to review the report. 

While answering questions from Green MLA Michele Beaton in the legislature, Thompson said, "No one in this house wants to release this report more than I do Mr. Speaker and as soon as the privacy commissioner offers her advice and guidance the report will be released."

Parties asked to divest land

In a news release in October, Thompson said he had asked the "parties involved" to divest land to come into line with the Lands Protection Act. However the minister has not confirmed which company or individuals he's given that direction to.

"I'm sure this isn't over by a long shot Mr. Speaker and I'm sure things will possibly end up in court so I have to be very careful what I say here," Thompson said during question period.

This is an important issue for all Islanders and we don't want to get it wrong.​​​​​​— Agriculture Minister Bloyce Thompson

Beaton asked, "When will you finally admit that you have no playbook for protecting Island land?" 

Thompson said, "I am only the second minister to ask for a divestiture of land on this Island.... We took [a] strong hand here Mr. Speaker and I'm sure it's not over and we will continue to protect Islanders, protect this land on this Island." 

Thompson said he's also taking guidance from legal advisers. "This is an important issue for all Islanders and we don't want to get it wrong."

He did not say when it would be made public.

The information and privacy commissioner is an independent officer of the P.E.I. Legislative Assembly who promotes public access to information and protection of privacy, according to the legislature's website. 

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