Husband of cabinet minister charged for buffer zone infraction

Teresa Wright
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Skye View Farms is located in Elmwood, P.E.I.

A P.E.I. cabinet minister’s husband has been charged with violating buffer zone laws.

Alex Docherty, owner of Skye View Farms Ltd. in Elmwood, was charged under the Environmental Protection Act with “cultivating a row crop within 200 meters of a watercourse boundary or wetland boundary,” according to documents filed in provincial court last week.

Docherty, a seed potato farmer, is married to Community Services and Seniors Minister Valerie Docherty.

The issue of buffer zone violation around waterways has been a sensitive one in P.E.I. Hundreds of fish were killed in the Trout River for the second year in a row earlier this summer. After the fish kill in the same river last year, Mount Royal farmer Warren Ellis was charged under the same section of the Environmental Protection Act as Docherty.

Ellis’ charges were later dismissed.

But the provincial government has taken a hard stand on the continuous problem with fish kills in P.E.I. waterways. During a news conference announcing a new action committee to work on the issue last week, Agriculture Minister George Webster said buffer zone legislation is the bare minimum in protecting Island waterways from runoff events.

Documents filed in provincial court this week say Docherty’s violation is alleged to have occurred at 9:35 a.m. on July 16 and pictures and potato plant samples were seized as evidence.

Docherty’s company was issued a $10,000 summery offense ticket.

Docherty said he did not want to discuss the charge at this time, but did say he is considering contesting it.

“It’s all up to my lawyer,” he said.

Despite being faced with a hefty fine, Docherty was quite cheerful when speaking with The Guardian Tuesday.

“I love life, that’s about the only comment I’ll make,” he said.

Government officials declined to comment on the issue, saying they did not want to speak to an issue while it is before the courts.

Docherty has until August 29 to decide whether to pay the fine or contest the charge in court.

Organizations: Skye View Farms, Community Services, Mount Royal

Geographic location: P.E.I., Elmwood, Trout River

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Recent comments

  • johnny cash
    August 01, 2012 - 15:20

    I don't think this is a cheap shot,i have no doubt he likely uses her "influence" to benefit his farm,something most other farmers aside from mackinley have no access to. Public service means public scrutiny!

  • Captain Canuck
    August 01, 2012 - 14:45

    I think they got you there, Guardian. A buffer zone infraction is a buffer zone infraction and that's the important thing. The "Who the offender is" is a minor detail in the story, and who the offender is related to is "nunya bizniss". Honestly, Guardian, that is sliding down the slope toward Tabloid Journalism, isn't it? I think I'd be more carefuller.

    August 01, 2012 - 13:40

    Alex Docherty, owner of Skye View Farms Ltd. in Elmwood, was charged under the Environmental Protection Act with “cultivating a row crop within 200 meters of a watercourse boundary or wetland boundary. It doesn't matter who the spouse is. This man who is responsible for the farming issues knew better. This is a farmer whom I am sure has farmed for some time and knows what's right and what is wrong. There was no need for an arrogance response of " I Love Life" I felt that was nothing but sarcasm and arrogance. Once again our waterways and fish are being endangered. Farmers, Contractors, and we as Islanders had better start taking this very seriously. One just has to look at the changes we have seen in our streams, brooks, rivers, bays, etc in the past few years. What are we waiting for? Are we waiting forwater restrictions to be put in place due to the pollution of our waterways . Now is the time to act responsibly and take responsibility for actions.

  • Bill Kays
    August 01, 2012 - 10:48

    Although I do not like this government I agree that it is a cheap shot taken at the minister. On the other hand, why aren't people talking about the real issue ... that of too much pesticide being used to cultivate our crops. Tell MacDonald's, Wendy's, etc., to lower the standards on the type of potato they require the farmer to grow. My grandfather grew potatoes, used fertilizer & pesticides respectfully, and we never had fish kills. There were no "BUFFER ZONES". I am all for the protection of our waterways but not at the cost of losing any rights or freedoms to use those waterways. Find out the exact cause of the fish kills. If it was pesticide or fertilizer then do not allow that person to use those products anymore. I am concerned about people and the effects of these products on us, our families, and our drinking water.

  • aongasha
    August 01, 2012 - 10:41

    Entertaining to say the least to watch all those who thought if fine to identify Nazanin Afshin-Jam as the Defence Minister's wife, but now twist themselves in knots over the Dochertys. And yes in both cases I think the Guardian was wrong.

    August 01, 2012 - 09:00

    Well maybe the adult members of a Cabinet Minister's family should know better. Anyhow Mr. Docherty is taking it pretty easy on the problem. Heck he and his wife would remember that the current agriculture minister and then environment minister George Webster had to deal with questions about his brother Bertie's farming misdeeds back in 2007. Bertie had to plow down some potatoes planted too close a waterway. Nothing much came of it beyond that. Certainly nothing whatsoever was done in relation to a minister allowing such acts so close to home. So whatever. I do not see the Docherty situation as much different than that of major Liberal donor Warren Ellis. At least Docherty is being checked up before a disaster occurs. The article states that Ellis's charges for the 2011 fish kill on the Trout River were dismissed. The article does not mention he is federal charges in front of him for that fish kill. Nor does the article specify that Ellis was able to get clear of the provincial charges due to a weakness in the provincial act of legislation. Teresa Wright's claim that after the 2012 fish kill on the Trout River the provincial government is taking a ' strong stand' through a committee is off base if not rather delusional. Real action would have been closing the loophole in the provincial legislation over the last twelve months. But the government did not do this and the opposition, in characeristic fashion on the major issues of our Island society, did not push for it either. There has been no public announcment on the cause of the 2012 fish kill on the Trout River. Teresa Wright should keep on the story and find us he answers on that one. It has been almost a month since that massive complete kill down of all the fish in the tributary and nobody seems to have come up with any answers on the cause to date.

  • John Andrew Robertson
    August 01, 2012 - 08:30

    This is a sensitive issue (rightly so) which deserves media coverage, whatever the outcome. However nothing in your article justifies citing the Cabinet Minister herself in the issue or the headline. While there may be issues pertinent to the Cabinet Minister that deserves discussion - this is not one of them.

  • Be Ashamed for the Right Issues
    August 01, 2012 - 07:57

    Isn't Valerie Docherty the MLA that supports Plan B? Islanders should focus on her responsibilities to Islanders, not what her husband does. If she should be embarrassed by something, it's supporting millions of tax dollars being spent for a project the vast majority of her constituents neither want nor need. Now that's a reason to be ashamed.

  • Troy
    August 01, 2012 - 07:56

    “It’s all up to my lawyer" Really? Ignorance is bliss. Talk about not taking responsibility. It's just sad.

  • Wow
    August 01, 2012 - 07:33

    The author of this article must be a Tory. It should have nothing to do with Valerie..... but then again..... we all have to abide by the laws. No matter who we are.

  • releived
    August 01, 2012 - 07:24

    I am sssooo glad we can't accuse the gua Drdian of being sexist. First Nazanin Afshin-Jam is " the defense minister's wife" and now Alex is "a cabinet minister's husband". Didn't you guys learn anything????? They have names, lives and businesses seperate from their spouses, Imagine. We live in a country where they are entitled to their opinions and yes their mistakes......

  • so her husband did what
    August 01, 2012 - 06:50

    Indeed this is a cheap shot at Valerie. Ms. Docherty has had to put up with Ghiz and his dummy boy cabinet tweaks and now her husband has been careless and reckless too. Valerie has the greatest smile which radiates her wholesome nature. When Ghiz messes up, which seems daily occurrence does the press attack his wife as a doctor? I would never vote Liberal again but this is a cheap shot at Valerie, leave her out of it you idiots.

  • voter
    August 01, 2012 - 06:08

    he says he loves life and then continues on his merry way after endangering life in nearby water ---sort of a miserable two-sided comment and approach to soimething he loves

  • don
    August 01, 2012 - 04:15

    she is a co-owner of this farm that is her husband so he should know the laws. and pay the fine with out trying to wiggle out. theses farmers does not appear to care about the water or the fish just the PROFIT.

  • Ed Prebinski
    August 01, 2012 - 01:32

    shows the true colors of this newspaper, impartiality. I guess its a make up to the Cons for describing The Defence Ministers's wife.

  • Mitch
    July 31, 2012 - 23:49

    Thinking of contesting the fine??? Just man up, accept responsibility and make sure it doesn't happen again!! How come people like Warren Ellis and now Mr Docherty feel they need to contest something like this?? They violated a take responsibility for your actions. Contesting things like this only makes you look arrogant and above the law.

  • hurrah
    July 31, 2012 - 22:44

    So what???? She has been in the front page before!!!!!! I think it is great!!! No,I am certainly NOT a Liberal either!!!!

  • Bruce Kelloway
    July 31, 2012 - 21:51

    Alex is one of the finest people on earth. Cheap cheap cheap shot a Valerie, another fine person.

  • Gerard
    July 31, 2012 - 21:16

    I could be wrong, but, I think it is a CHEAP SHOT to bring Valerie Docherty's name to this press release..........she didn't contaminate the water's. However, it's P. E. I. isn'f it?????? Although I would NEVER vote Liberal, I still think it is a cheap shot.

    • Not So Cheap
      July 31, 2012 - 21:24

      I don't think it is a cheap shot. He is married to a public figure who would be quick to make cheap shots at an opposition member for less. That is what it means to be involved in politics....nothing is sacred.

    • Shellie Brown-e
      August 01, 2012 - 00:34

      HIGH-FIVE To Community Services and Seniors Minister Valerie Docherty.*** - Don't know and don't want to know the family dynamics or whatever else there May Be behind her doing The Right Thing. >> When you have Fish Kills, there are People Kills. Human Beings contracting numerous illness, diseases caused by coming from & ingested by Human Beings from same water sources killing massive numbers of fish. NOW THT the World has become more Enviromentally Cautious, PEI'S Tourism Business WILL take a hard hit. Nobody in their right mind - with an iota of Common Sense will come to PEI - The Gentle Island -" The Silent Killer Island" due to the Contaminated Drinkinking Water Sources.

    • Townie
      August 01, 2012 - 07:46

      Why shouldn't her name be brought into it. To know that it is an elected officials spouse is something the public should be aware of. What if they drop the charges suspiciously? When your in public office your life is .. well.. public. This farmer should have been doubly aware of the buffer zone rules because his spouse is an MLA.

    • CheapShot
      August 01, 2012 - 07:50

      I agree with Gerard this is a very cheap shot with bringing Valerie Doherty's name into this article as it is her husband's farm and she has nothing to do with him not putting up a buffer zone! Grow up people!