Letters to the editor – October 16, 2014

FACING THE FACTS

With the current round of advertising going on with Ducks Unlimited and their critique of drainage, we finally have an opportunity to discuss publicly the elephant in the room. Uncontrolled drainage without any limits or boundaries is just as dangerous to the public as unlimited weight restrictions on our highways.

Limits are required to provide order and checks in a system that can only handle so much chaos. We are advocating a water management policy in this province that includes input from all stakeholders to ensure that any significant damage is mitigated before major weather events occur.

Conservancy groups such as Ducks Unlimited, Nature Conservancy and Sierra Club et al. need to face basic facts. Agriculture is not going to step back to the ’50s and carry on meaningful production using archaic principles and processes.

I do not foresee any member of these groups wanting to revert back to the old pen and paper and the party line phone system.

Therefore, why are they demanding that agriculture needs to revert back to the way water and ecosystems were at that time?

Economically, agriculture is a key pillar of the economic platform of the Saskatchewan economy.

Saskatchewan retains 40 percent of Canadian arable land and employs 13 percent of the Saskatchewan workforce.

In 2013, agriculture in Saskatchewan provided $11.8 billion in farm cash receipts and $11.7 billion in agri-food exports. In order to continue to provide these types of production numbers, more efficiency will need to be developed within the Saskatchewan agriculture landscape. Drainage is an integral part of creating those efficiencies.

Agriculture producers are not advocating draining every pothole and water body within the production belt but want to work with a system that allows them to farm the best and leave the rest.

Members of our association have over 16 percent of the lands they manage in habitat and wetlands. This varies according to the medium term environmental conditions.

Wet conditions of the last decade have reduced the productive capability of the land potentially creating medium-term or even irreparable damage due to increased soil salinity, nutrient leaching and acreage loss due to long-term water accumulation.

Ducks Unlimited and other conservancy groups also need to have boundaries and limits placed on their activities. Using Google search “overpopulation of geese” reveals that an overabundance of waterfowl has resulted in permanent damage to the Arctic tundra as quoted in a U.S. Geological Survey: “As the best areas are overgrazed and destroyed, geese move on to graze new areas that are less productive and more prone to destruction. Once the plants are gone, evaporation of soil moisture leads to salinization (salt buildup) of the soil.

“In some areas, scientists have documented soil salt levels that are 10 times that of seawater. In these areas, even the stunted Arctic growing willows are killed by the salt and virtually no plants — at least none usable by wildlife — grow.”

This is one example of what can happen when conservancy issues without limits or controls can adversely affect our environment.

In Saskatchewan, Ducks Unlimited has now secured 1,858,210 acres and influences a cumulative total of 2,608,502 acres. Not all of that acreage has been managed in a manner that has them recognized as responsible neighbours.

Saskatchewan Farm Stewardship Association is a group of Saskatchewan producers that want to ensure there is a meaningful dialogue among all stakeholders whether urban, rural, environmentalist or conservationists that ensures there is a long-term water management strategy that benefits all residents.

David Zerr, President,
Sask. Farm Stewardship Assoc.
Yorkton, Sask.

CRIMINALS IN WAITING

Minister (of public safety and emergency preparedness) Stephen Blaney tabled what was called a common sense gun control bill recently in Parliament. What he did do was make cosmetic changes that would have little impact on the average long gun owner.

What he did not do was decriminalize the ownership of firearms for lawful gun owners. Under this law, when your possession licence expires, you now have six months to renew, or you become a felon and may end up with a criminal record and perhaps go to jail for up to 10 years.

In July of this year Blaney made the statement that the grace period would be five years. His five years became six months.

Amalgamating both POL (possession only licences) and PAL (possession and acquisition licences) basically forces those POL licensees to take a mandatory safety course before renewing the possession licence. This will create difficulties for our seniors who have been using firearms most of their lives in rural Canada.

It is difficult to understand why (prime minister Stephen) Harper will not decriminalize firearm ownership in Canada. Firearms are the only property that owning without a paper licence can send you to jail for up to 10 years. Plus you will have a criminal record.

In the past decade, Harper has promised to repeal the Liberal gun control Bill C-68. He has lied over and over again to the gun owners of Canada. The only thing he did was getting rid of the long gun registration. The police still use the registry, so it really isn’t dead. C-68 is basically alive and well.

So, Mr. Harper, we are all tired of your lying. Lawful gun owners will see through all the smoke in 2015.

Inky Mark, former MP
Dauphin, Man.

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