Pesticide use political hot potato in P.E.I. election

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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Potato farm

The use of pesticides on Prince Edward Island is an issue that probably won’t be spoken about too often by politicians during the province’s election campaign, except for members of the Green party as they push for tougher regulations.

Political scientist Peter McKenna of the University of Prince Edward Island says the Liberals and Conservatives want to steer clear of a fight with farmers before the Oct. 3 election, particularly Premier Robert Ghiz’s Liberal party.

“A soft underbelly of Robert Ghiz’s administration has always been the claim, rightly or wrongly, that he’s not in touch with rural P.E.I.,” McKenna said.

“The last thing that Robert Ghiz wants to do is to be seen as coming down against the farming community by putting into place something that they would probably perceive as hurting their interests and hurting their ability to maintain the family farm.”

Questions about pesticide use surface a few times each year after heavy rains. Thousands of fish in rivers in western P.E.I. were killed after heavy rains in July. Two farmers were charged after traces of pesticides were found in nearby rivers.

The province’s Environmental Protection Act mandates a 15-metre buffer zone between row crops — such as potatoes — and rivers or streams. But Green Party Leader Sharon Labchuk argues that’s not enough and she’s convinced the government won’t enact stricter rules.

“To tell the truth, I think they honestly believe that there’s nothing wrong with an industry that kills fish and poisons people.”

Organizations: University of Prince Edward Island, Conservatives, Green Party

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island

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Recent comments

  • Henry
    September 20, 2011 - 12:10

    I wonder how many of the farmers would continue farming if chemicals are banned. Could be good for the "organic" growers, if there are any willing to do the hard work. I like your way of thinking Easy Peasy.

  • MEEEE
    September 15, 2011 - 22:15

    I AGREEEEEEE ORGANIC I HAVE MS AND A STRAWBERRY FARM MOVED INTO MY TOWN AND THEY SPRAYED ALL THE TIME NEAR MY HOME I BELIEVE THIS IS WHY I HAVE MS AND ALOT OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE CANCER GOVERNMENT DONT CARE THEY WANNA FILL THERE POCKETS INSTEAD OF OUTTING MONEY TO GOLF COURSES ETC PUT IT WHERE ITS GONA HELP OUR ISLAND GO PESTICIDE FREE WAY TO GO Sharon Labchuk HOPE YOU WIN KEEP FIGHTING

  • SG
    September 14, 2011 - 10:27

    I apologize in advance for my lengthy comment. People may criticize and dismiss Sharon Labchuck but in my view we should be thankful that she is speaking out for the benefit and health of all Islanders. Some may not appreciate her suggestion on a new way of doing business on PEI (farming) but sadly I believe one day Islanders will realize she is right. Unfortunately it may too late. Just my view but I also feel that Islanders would benefit from a strong Opposition comprised of not only PC or Lib members but a healthy number of NDP, Green Members and yes our Island Party Members. Without a strong Opposition it will be Business as usual on PEI. If there is no Opposition there will be no Accountability. Putting all our eggs in one basket has only served in providing Islanders with the same Government monopoly following every Election. If Islanders want change they have to Vote for change. If the same Parties lead with the same views every four years we can't expect change. Having a Government that represents all different views on all issues is having a Government that represents all Islanders. The views of one Person or one Party does not promote change and does not represent Islanders' collective voices. In the last Federal Election Canadians voted to ensure Canada did not elect another Majority Government. I feel Islanders should do the same if all Islanders want to have a voice in the decisions that affect their daily lives. I was very impressed with Mr. Rodd, NDP Party, Sharon Labchuck, Green Pary and Mr. Cann Leader the Island Party while listening to the Debate via CBC Radio. Mr. Rodd and Mr. Cann are relatively new to the Island Political Scene but I commmend them on a great job in putting their Party's views and platform forward. I believe Islanders would benefit in having by having the voices of all our Political Parties heard in the Legislature. Personally I don't look forward to having another four years like the last four ie: a Majority Government under any of the five parties running.

  • Spade
    September 13, 2011 - 19:38

    I cannot think of two more qualified people to talk about and represent rural pei than Robert and TX.They know pesticides well.They saw a farmer spraying one time on their way to Dalvay.Thought he was watering the plants,When confronted argued that they were right.Their answer...We are Liberals..Our way or the wrong way.

  • Really
    September 13, 2011 - 16:37

    What will it take for you to go away labchuk? You'll clearly never be happy with farmers doing what they have to make a living. It's too bad just 2 farmers broke the rules or you would have nothing to complain about!

  • Organic Please
    September 13, 2011 - 16:35

    We need to make this Island 100% organic. It CAN be done. It won't happen over night but it CAN be done. As long as we have politician who say it can't be done, it won't be done. Vote in someone with an interest in healthy islanders this time, people. And that certainly won't be the libs or the PCs. Anything but those two. I mean, how much worse could it be?

  • Easy Peasy
    September 13, 2011 - 14:39

    This one should be so easy. Research. Find out who is farming on a scale similar to PEI, doing it organically, and doing it profitably. Then emulate what they do here. Do the research and show that we can do it and remain financially sound, then enforce that way of doing things here.

    • deep fried soil
      September 13, 2011 - 15:57

      I don't think the soil is any good after all the years of heavy pesticide use. I know of one individual who runs a dairy farm and only plants corn in his fields and a lot of potato farmers are always trying to buy his land because of the really rich soil that has not been soaked with all the chemicals. Not sure if going organic would work right away.