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Former B.C. ag minister takes interim post

British Columbia’s former agriculture minister, Abbotsford-Clayburn MLA John van Dongen, will handle the portfolio on an interim basis following the death of Agriculture Minister Stan Hagen.

Hagen, 68, died suddenly Tuesday in Victoria, reportedly of a heart attack.

Currently in Premier Gordon Campbell’s cabinet as solicitor general and minister for public safety, van Dongen was minister for agriculture, food and fisheries from 2001 to 2005.

Hagen had filled in for him briefly in 2003 when van Dongen temporarily stepped aside during a police investigation over an aquaculture file he handled in 2001.

A dairy farmer in Abbotsford before entering politics, van Dongen studied agricultural economics at the University of British Columbia and served on the board of the B.C. Dairy Foundation, Agrifoods International Co-operative (Dairyland), the B.C. Federation of Dairymen’s Associations (later called the B.C. Milk Producers Association) and the Federal Farm Debt Review Board.

A public memorial service for Hagen is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Saturday (Jan. 24) at Mark R. Isfeld Secondary School in Courtenay, about 220 km northwest of Victoria.

Messages of condolence can be faxed to the provincial protocol office at 250-356-2814, but Hagen’s family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Hagen’s name to the Comox Valley Community Foundation.

A book of condolences is also available for signing at the Courtenay Service B.C. Centre at 2500 Cliffe Ave.

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