BY DAVID WEALE
AND DOUG SMALL
We recently met with Edwin and his son Chris Wall of Lower New Annan, a stone’s throw from the Cavendish Farms french fry plant. Life-long fishermen at Malpeque Harbor, these men know the area well.
The Walls took us on a morning-long tour of the countryside. They know most every farmer and the history of the Irving influence on the local communities. The views from their truck were spectacular, pastoral landscapes, peaceful vistas, the P.E.I. we all know and love. They then took us down clay roads off the beaten track.
We saw hedgerows bulldozed, streams silted over; mere trickles of their former flows. Irrigation ponds fed by multiple, newly dug wells pumping constantly.
They told us stories of the farm families. Farmers strong-armed, land sales, farmers monitored and ‘requested’ to purchase certain products.
Farmers encouraged to remove hedgerows and plow to the very edge of waterway buffer zones; all for the sake of profits and a few more bags of frozen fries. A very high price for P.E.I. to pay.
On our return home, we contemplated the corporate dilemma. How does one counter corporate tactics such as we witnessed? Our own government appears unable and/or unwilling to even acknowledge the harm done. They too are subjected to the strong-arm, bullying approach.
We propose an alternative corporate business strategy.
Why not become partners in an environmental renaissance? Instead of bulldozing trees and hedgerows, why not plant them? Instead of plowing to the edge of wetlands, silting and poisoning streams, why not advocate for larger effective buffer zones? Why not fund stream restoration and dredging of silt-laden estuaries?
Consider your corporate image, consider the public relations advantages, and yes, consider an exciting new, visionary profit-boosting dynamic. The Irving empire could tout “Grown on Prince Edward Island,” “Cavendish Farms - A Partner in Environmental Responsibility,” or “Cavendish Farms - We Care.”
Your markets are changing. The world is embracing and rewarding responsible, ethical corporations.
The annual photo-op with the premier handing a cheque to the QEH is nice, but not enough, not nearly enough, considering.
- David Weale and Dale Small are founders of Vision P.E.I.