Only after the last tree has been cut down.  Only after the last river has been poisoned.  Only after the last fish has been caught.  Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.

"When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof." - Wingspread Statement of the Precautionary Principle.
Sample Letters:

July 14, 2003 
The Honourable David Anderson Minister of the Environment 
Les Terrasses de la Chaudiere 
10 Wellington Street, 
28th Floor 
Hull, Quebec 
K1A 0H3 

Dear Mr. Anderson;

I am part of a rapidly growing group of concerned Canadians and citizens of this province which is becoming increasingly alarmed by the proliferation of pig factories in Canada, and, more specifically, in my area of east central Saskatchewan.

The Agricultural Act in this province has been designed to protect the factory operators, leaving the residents with no power, no voice, and no recourse.  One by one, our communities are brought under siege, each forced to re-invent the same fight to keep these ‘pollution shoppers’ out.

Sadly, they usually fail, left with broken relationships and broken communities.

Once these operations are set up, there is no avenue by which they can be adequately regulated, monitored, punished or shut down for their reckless contamination of our water and air.

The people who say they are protecting our precious water at source are compromising it every time they give out another permit! They refuse to see the danger in what they are doing.

No independent Environmental Impact Studies are required before the provincial government issues an operating permit to these factories.

The provincial government makes the rules, does the testing, monitors (?!) the operations, and slaps the wrist of any offenders (the fines for any transgressions can be ‘all the way up’ to a maximum of $5,000.00 - the price of their daily telephone bill!).  The fox is in the chicken coop and there is no one doing anything about it.     

Every year, each operation draws millions of gallons of drinking water – my drinking water and yours - out of the ground to support these factories. Every year, that water is turned into millions of gallons of raw, liquid manure that is collected in huge cesspools and then spread on our soil to soak into the surface and ground waters. It seems to me to be a 'ticking bomb'.  I'm afraid that we are allowing a very dangerous activity to continue and increase – illness and death have struck similar situations in other areas already. Do people have to die because we cannot learn from the mistakes and experiences of others?

I fear that, in a surprisingly short time, we will be left with a 'dead zone' - no one will live in this beautiful, yet-undefiled part of our province. This is economic development? The pollution will continue to leach downwards and outwards, throughout the entire area, causing irremediable damage. Future generations will suffer enormous consequences because of this madness. Is this preserving our environment for them? Is this exploitation of our resources the way to lay the foundation for a better quality of life for them? Give the production of our food back to our farmers – not to foreign factory operators!

This is the United Nations Year of Fresh Water, but it ain't happenin' here!

Yours truly,

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Letter to Saskatchewan Party Regarding Position on ILOs
October 10, 2003

The NDP government is turning Saskatchewan into a rural slum with the creation of mega factory farm hog barns across the province.  It is incongruous that in a province prone to drought we would promote this type of agribusiness.

My concerns are water quality and quantity, toxic air emissions, the destruction of the family farm and in the inhumane and unhealthy housing for the animals and the antibiotic resistance that develops from these conditions making the quality of meat questionable.

What will you do about these factory farms if you are elected?

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Response from Saskatchewan Party Regarding Position on ILOs
October 14, 2003

Thank you so much for your recent letter to several Saskatchewan Party candidates regarding your concerns about hog barn development in Saskatchewan.

The Saskatchewan Party is not opposed to the development of intensive livestock operations in our province.  In fact, intensive livestock operations are prime example of economic development opportunities that will help to grow our economy.  To move our agriculture industry away from one of primarily grain production to more value-added industry would help to stabilize this important industry and thus be of economic benefit to the entire province.

That being said, I do recognize that many like yourself are concerned about potential negative environmental impacts of these developments.  I believe that responsible public policy can help us achieve the benefits of economic development through intensive livestock operations without risking the environment.  Other provinces in Canada that already have well established intensive livestock operations have not seen a marked decline in their environment when compared to Saskatchewan.

Thank you so much for your inquiry.

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Letter to Saskatchewan NDP Regarding Position on ILOs
October 15, 2003

I have moved into an urban environment after 10 years of rural living.

Our current government is turning Saskatchewan into a rural slum.

The creation of numerous ‘factory farm’ hog barns across our province is deplorable. It is incongruous that in a province prone to drought, we would promote this type of agribusiness.

Among my concerns are water quality and quantity, toxic air emissions, the destruction of the family farm, the inhumane and unhealthy housing for the animals and the antibiotic resistance that develops from these conditions making the quality of meat questionable.

The current government is promoting an industry that will provide short-term economic gains and certain long-term disaster.

What will you do to stop this insanity if you are elected?

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Response from Saskatchewan NDP Regarding Position on ILOs
October 17, 2003

Thank you for your e-mail regarding hog barns. You have sent this e-mail to seven NDP candidates, to whom I have forwarded your concerns.  Please note that NDP candidate e-mail comes to the provincial party headquarters first.

The New Democrats' platform as well as government regulations are addressing the issues raised in your e-mail.  We are certainly prepared to review those regulations as we implement new initiatives that are outlined in the platform.

Building on the success of the Spirit Creek Watershed Monitoring Committee, we will be expanding soil and water quality monitoring across the province, taking both preventative and corrective actions as necessary.  We're going to continue the farm family opportunity initiative to provide supports to maintain family farms through increased diversification and value-added production.

We're also beginning a bio-mass pilot project in the Cudworth area to help better manage livestock wastes, emissions/odours, while creating energy and fertilizer bi-products.  Within the next few months, we will also put in place a provincial bio diversity plan to ensure that we have long-term measures in place to protect our ecosystems and unique biospheres. 

Thanks again for your interest.

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Response from David Anderson, Federal Minister of Environment

November 12, 2003

Thank you for your letter concerning the environmental impacts of large-scale hog factories in Canada, specifically in Saskatchewan.

I share your concerns about the potentially harmful effects of large-scale hog production on human health and the surrounding environment.  Please be assured that my department recognizes the importance of dealing effectively with intensive livestock operations, to ensure that the environment is protected. 

As you are aware, the location and operation of livestock facilities in Canada falls under the authority of provincial and municipal governments, where zoning by-laws and other conditions of operation are enforced.  The Government of Canada does, however, recognize that environmental protection is a critical issue for citizens, and that there is interdependence between agriculture and the environment.  With the announcement in June 2002 of the Agricultural Policy Framework (APF), significantly strengthened environmental components will be implemented to protect the environment from agricultural activities, and to achieve measurable and meaningful environmental goals in the areas of water, air and soil quality, and biodiversity.

To ensure that the aquatic environment is protected, Environment Canada officials are emphasizing the importance of dealing effectively with intensive livestock operations, as well as other forms of agriculture.  In delivering on the APF environmental goals outlined above, my department is working closely with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), other federal government departments, and provincial environment and agriculture departments, to address water quality issues, to improve farm practices, and to ensure that the environment is protected across Canada.  This includes the development of new beneficial management practices for manure management and storage.

The intent of the APF is threefold:  to help the agriculture industry recognize its impact on the environment; to support producers and land owners in taking actions that reduce environmental risk from agricultural operations; and to promote the continuous growth of the stewardship ethic within the industry.  As such, the federal government is confident that the work now being done to establish agri-environmental farm plans, standards and beneficial management practices will be favourably received and implemented by the agricultural community.

I am enclosing an information supplement that provides details on Government of Canada actions with respect to this important environmental issue.

I appreciate your bringing your concerns to my attention, and trust that my comments are of assistance. 

Yours sincerely,

David Anderson, P.C., M.P.

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