Letters to the editor – October 8, 2015

Posted

Climate change ignored

We need new, major initiatives to promote industry solutions, and education to counteract climate-change.

We have met none of our climate-change reduction targets under prime minister Stephen Harper. He voted “no” to climate change accountability, to implementation of the Kyoto Accord and refused to attend the UN Global Summit on Climate Change. How does he explain these actions to his children?

We need the group-inventiveness of Canadians and climate scientists to help reduce our emissions. Instead, this government used our money to promote tar sands and pipelines, while covering up how these increase climate change. They don’t allow climate scientists to speak to the public.

Conservatives changed the Navigable Waters Act to remove all environmental protection from Canadian lakes and rivers.

They campaigned on smaller government, then eliminated hundreds of vital services, while at the same time, increasing government spending by 30 percent for more government offices, more Tory senators, the largest advertising department, PM office, and most PMO staff in history.

They “balanced the budget,” adding $160 billion to our public debt.

A Conservative MP was convicted of election fraud. Harper responded with laws making it harder for people to vote. The Elections Canada officer is no longer allowed to make public statements about voting.

Forty percent of Canadians didn’t vote in the last election. If all Canadians voted, they could get rid of this inhumane, unethical, racist, fiscally inept, dictatorial government. You can advance vote at any Elections Canada office any time from now, until Oct. 13. Or you can vote early on Oct. 9, 10, 11 and 12 (from noon to 8 p.m. at your normal polling office).

Bring two pieces of ID.

Jackie Lewis
Bancroft, Ont.

Answers fudged

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In the markets section (WP Oct. 1, 2015) there was a column headlined, “Will fertilizer prices rise next spring?” I stared at the headline, wondering what sort of person wrote such a headline.

Young and callow, or old and cynical? If the latter, then it is a purely rhetorical question. When last did fertilizer prices fall in the spring? But what are we to make of the answers from J.P. Gervais, chief Ag. Economist at Farm Credit Canada, and Dan Mazier, president of Keystone Agricultural Producers? We all know that natural gas is a large component in fertilizer, and we also know that the price of natural gas has been in the tank for quite a while. Yet the best that Gervais can come up with is bafflement that low-priced gas makes no evident difference to the price of nitrogen. He makes an attempt at bafflegab by talking about the price of fertilizer “decoupling” from the price of natural gas.

Dan Mazier also fudges the question. The answer to what is going on with fertilizer is evident with almost everything we buy these days

If you buy gas at the pump, do you think the fluctuations are a result of supply and demand? If you pick up a tin of your favorite coffee, and the tin is smaller and the price bigger, how do you account for that? If the drug your well-being is dependent on suddenly goes up several hundred percent, is that an indication the market is behaving as it should?

The truth is, greed is becoming unmanageable. We are slaying the miraculous goose. The world is awash in people looking for overnight riches. Why should fertilizer companies be any different?

Greed is a terrible master. It is driving the need for more land, bigger machines, fancier vehicles and it is exponential. What was enough last year, may not be half enough next year.

That is one of the problems with greed. Once successful at pulling an exorbitant price out of something, an air of uncertainty is introduced. If the area of reasonable profit is abandoned, what should I charge? When greed is in the driver’s seat, the answer is “whatever the market will bear.”

If I have all the power, as the fertilizer companies have, and the people who require my product must have it to continue in industrial farming, in such a world of greed as we now live in, what will the market bear? I think we are merely on the cusp of marketplace that will make the Roman Coliseum at its bloodiest look like a Sunday afternoon picnic.

There is a very ugly process in place. About this time of year, like clockwork, columns like the one under discussion begin. Farmers are urged to stock up on fertilizer, “because it will be higher in the spring.” So they sell grain at a low price, or load up on cash advances, and buy fertilizer at a price that nets fertilizer companies rich profits.

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Then the people who either couldn’t afford to buy in the fall, or made the error of thinking Charlie Brown style that prices might be lower in the spring, sure enough, get severely penalized for not doing as they are told.

It’s a process I’ve seen repeated several years now. It’s a dirty, shameful business, but it’s par for industrial farming. All I know, if living to the age I have tells me anything, it is not going to end well. Fertilizer is only one part of the picture.

John Beckham
Winnipeg, Man.

Info suppressed

Who is served by suppressing information?

Discontinuing the long form census means no reliable data collection regarding living conditions of Canadians. How then to create good long-term policy?

Libraries at federal ag research facilities (like the stations at Swift Current and Lethbridge) have been closed. Librarians have been fired. Thousands of books, manuals, journals, and research papers have been destroyed. Valuable archival papers dating back over a 100 years are moved to neglected basement corners.

This dumbing down of Canadians is happening as we enter a period of climate variability which has already caused political instability. This is precisely the wrong time to fire librarians, send research papers and books to the dumpsters, muzzle scientists and decrease the knowledge base.

Who is served? Not Canada or the Canadian public.

The 2015 general election is a chance to change direction— both an opportunity and a responsibility for everyone.

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Stewart Wells,
Swift Current, Sask.

Jackie Lewis