Green MLA Michele Beaton suggested a land sale of 2,000 acres to an Irving-owned company may still be in the works, despite a similar sale being quashed by the previous government.
During question period on Wednesday, the Mermaid-Stratford MLA said she has heard “murmurings” of the sale of the land to an Irving-owned subsidiary.
“There have been some murmurings among farmers in the Bedeque area of a soon-to-be finalized transfer of over 2,000 acres of arable land from a local family operator to a new corporation owned and operated by the Irvings," Beaton said.
"Are you aware of the land sale in question?" she asked Agriculture Minister Bloyce Thompson.
Thompson replied that no decision on this sale by the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission has been made, and that he was not aware of it.
"That has not come across my desk yet," Thompson said.
“Our government doesn't operate on rumours. When it's facts, and it comes across our desk, and if IRAC advises us to not approve it, that's what we will do."
-Agriculture Minister Bloyce Thompson
IRAC does not publicly release information related to the parties involved in land sale applications.
A previous application for the sale of 2,220 acres by Brendel Farms Ltd. to three farming businesses – Galloway Farms, Indian River Farms and Long River Farms – was denied by executive council on March 26. The three businesses listed members of the Irving family as directors. On the same day, former premier Wade MacLauchlan called an election, the result of which was a defeat of his government on April 23.
At the time Richard Brown, who was then minister on the file, told The Guardian that cabinet had denied the sale because it was in contravention of the Lands Protection Act.
The act limits land-size holdings of agricultural corporations to 3,000 acres, although some exceptions do exist.
Brown said executive council followed the recommendation of IRAC in denying the sale.
On Wednesday, Beaton suggested the new sale would likely result in the same recommendation from IRAC.
"Will this government follow any potential recommendation from IRAC to deny the sale in question?" Beaton asked Thompson.
“Our government doesn't operate on rumours,” Thompson said in response.
“When it's facts, and it comes across our desk, and if IRAC advises us to not approve it, that's what we will do."
The Guardian reached out to a director of Brendel Farms Ltd. but did not hear back by deadline.