Re: Carl DeGurse- It's time to talk about Ag-gag in Manitoba (Wpg Free Press, 27 Feb.) "Manitoba is exploring potential legislation that would protect bio-security at food production premises where livestock or other animals are being kept in order to protect animals from hazards that may compromise food safety."
However, it doesn't say why bio-security is suddenly so critical that it now needs legislative action, especially when factory hog barn establishments have been in Manitoba for nearly 25 years.
Ag-Gag laws are dangerous because they essentially give animal factory owners/operators a free pass at doing what they want to animals. These laws are designed to scare off activists or potential whistle blowers from taking videos, photos, or documenting anything that takes place on the premises. There would be no accountability. What are they afraid of? Self-regulation and scrutiny would be a mockery to animal stewardship. And, if hog factory operators, aka farmers are so terrified that protesters will bring disease onto their properties, I find that somewhat ironic, in that they are spending manpower and resources to try and create disease-free barns, when they are exacerbating the problem by providing the perfect medium for diseases to proliferate within the barns themselves, along with the huge storage lagoons of feces.
As citizens of Manitoba, we need to decide what kind of a country we want to live in. A healthy, vibrant, rural economy with small family farms and small local abattoirs which are good for urban Canada as well. We need to restore public confidence in the food system (currently very low). We need to develop a food supply system that does not destroy community, here in Manitoba, Canada or in other countries. Farmers must be valued for the contribution they make to our society.
Sadly, this is not taking place in Manitoba. The public good, our concerns for health, the environment and protection to our water sources has fallen through the cracks.
To-day, caring people are continually in conflict to save our communities, their health, their way of life and to preserve precious water sources and environment. Sadly however, it's like fighting fires with a hammer.
Why, one might ask, has the Manitoba government deserted their obligations to uphold and protect our rural citizens.
As we know, our present Manitoba government is a proponent of the hog industry, and is also the regulator; which is wrong. Needed regulation must be determined and administered by another independent agency, else there is a conflict of interest!
Justice Horace Krever, the presiding judge during the tainted blood scandal, expresses the following as a solemn warning, (Inquiry- Oct. 1993):
"The relationship between a regulator and the regulated must never become one in which-the regulator loses sight of the principle that it regulates only in the public interest and not in the interest of the regulated.”
John Fefchak, Virden, MB.