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LETTERS – for Dec. 18, 2008

Protect rural residents from ILOs

It was gratifying to read about a recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling whereby companies can be sued for polluting, despite operating within government regulations and that this could have ramifications for agriculture.

The report “Polluters liable for excessive annoyances,” by Ron Friesen in the Manitoba Co-operator Dec. 4 also raises the question of whether it strengthens the hand of residents complaining about odours from hog barns.

I believe it does. Although the case, for now, only applies to the Quebec civil code, it does set the precedent for all rural residents who have to endure and suffer the stench of hog manure and the environment of its creation.

Hog factories in Manitoba have made headlines for some seven years now. People have been complaining, not only about odour but also about health-related problems. They have also expressed concerns about the pollution of the environment, the water and air quality.

I also agree “there is a big difference” between the family farm and the industrialized method of producing hogs. That big difference must now be seriously addressed by our local and provincial governments.

At present, rural Manitobans are basically at the mercy of the hog industry and the discretion of municipalities. Rural leaders and especially the Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM) have a very important role to play.

The current Manitoba Farm Practices Protection Act needs to be rewritten to accommodate the difference with public input. For instance, setback standards must be put in place to protect residents, whose quality of living is being compromised. The 6-0 ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada recognized that “people do matter.”

On behalf of the rural population of Manitoba, incoming AMM president, Doug Dobrowolski must undertake this challenge and treat as a high priority.

John Fefchak Virden, Man.

CWB director results welcome

The results of the recent Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) director elections have been made public. Single-desk supporters took four out of five director seats.

For myself and thousands of other western grain producers, this is very welcome news.

Obviously, farmers have not allowed themselves to be intimidated by the heavy-handed methods and dishonesty employed by the Harper government in its effort to discredit and destroy the Canadian Wheat Board.

The CWB is a grain producers’ business organization. Only grain producers have the right to make major decisions regarding the operations of the CWB, and this is through the democratic process of one person – one vote. In other words, the federal government does not have the legal right to interfere. But interfere they did. Farmers took them to court several times. The courts ruled in favour of the farmers every time. It is indeed a sad state of affairs when farmers must challenge the federal government through court actions to protect themselves and their marketing agency.

The present Harper government seems to have little respect for democratic rights, fair play and honesty.

This should serve as a wake-up call to all Canadians. Can the Harper government be trusted to govern Canada in the future?

George Hickie Waldron, Sask.

Tory antics unacceptable

In November 2008, several MPs, including David Anderson (parliamentary secretary for the CWB) sent letters directly to voters instructing them how to vote to ensure election of open market candidates. These letters were on House of Commons letterhead and at taxpayers’ expense. The question has to be asked: “How did Anderson and the other MPs get individual CWB voters’ addresses?”

The Conservative government has tried to do indirectly what it cannot do directly: weaken, undermine and ultimately destroy the CWB’s right to sell wheat and barley on export markets on behalf of western Canadian farmers.

All these actions were supported and/or instigated by Stephen Harper, Chuck Strahl, Gerry Ritz and my MP David Anderson. Do we really think that a coalition government could do worse?

Joyce Neufeld Waldeck, Sask.

Please forward letters to Manitoba Co-operator, 1666 Dublin Ave., Winnipeg, R3H 0H1 or Fax: 204-954-1422 or e-mail: [email protected](subject: To the editor)



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