Keeping Islanders in the Dark

By Edith Ling, as published in the Charlottetown Guardian, February 23, 2021

Those who have nothing to hide do not fear the light. Ethical people welcome transparency in their dealings and actions. They don’t hide behind the veil of privacy to cover the ways they manipulate laws for their own gain. They don’t hide behind the pretence that their secrecy is necessary for reasons of fair competition as a way to cover their own disregard for the good of all citizens and society. They certainly do not expect the government of a people to betray their citizenry to keep wrong-doing buried.

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NFU presents to Land Matters Committee

The mandate of the Land Matters Advisory Committee is to support government’s efforts to develop land policy and legislation and will provide advice and guidance to ensure policies and legislation reflect the current and future needs of the province.  On November 12, members of the NFU presented the following recommendations to the committee. Read the whole submission here:

  • Government acknowledge that Island land, soil, water, and air are public trusts.
  • Government acknowledge the importance of the Lands Protection Act, and commit to gaining knowledge and understanding of its purpose in protecting our primary resource.
  • Government consolidate the management of land under one agency with the powers listed in the presentation and expanded upon with public input. 
  • Government be a leader in seeking diversification in Island agriculture so that there is not such heavy dependence on the potato sector thus putting the stability of our economy at risk.
  • As recommended by Judge Ralph Thompson and by Horace Carver that environmentally sensitive and marginal lands not be farmed but be maintained as non-arable land in a farm’s total land aggregate.
  • Island agricultural land must remain in food production
  • government begin the establishment of an agricultural land bank, which usage would be firmly tied to the Crop Rotation Act.
  • The zoning and management of agricultural land must remain in provincial jurisdiction, rather than be given over to municipalities.

NFU Presents to the PEI Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability

Edith Ling and Doug Campbell appeared before the PEI Legislature’s Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Sustainability on November 5, 2020. They shared the NFU’s concerns about Prince Edward Island’s most valuable resources, stressing the importance of recognizing the interconnection between the health of farming, and of land and water. They urged to committee to and the public responsibility of ensuring that land and water are utilized and protected for the good of all farmers and all Islanders. You can see their presentation on facebook here (or visit the PEI Legislature’s website here and search for the November 5 meeting) of the committee (the presentation starts at 1 hr 16 min) is or their read their entire submission here. Continue reading

Understanding the Spirit and Intent of the Lands Protection Act

By Douglas Campbell

The National Farmers Union (NFU) is praising the Three Rivers Municipal Council for its care in dealing with issues relating to the Buddhist communities in the region. The Council voted to refuse a permit to Great Wisdom Buddhist Institute (Buddhist Nuns) for the building of a residence in Brudenell, eventually to be expanded to hold over 1000 nuns. It was clear that the center of concern for many participants in the Council meeting was greater than the building permit. There has been, however, a growing anxiety in the surrounding area and in other parts of PEI about what looks like unregulated land accumulation. The people at the Council meeting seemed to be intent on looking into what has the appearance of a hodge-podge of land acquisitions.

For people who may not be aware, the Lands Protection Act was put in place in 1982 by the then Progressive Conservative government of Angus MacLean. It was, and continues to be, a forward thinking piece of legislation with spirit and intent and laws to ensure that bonafide Islander residents retain the right to the ownership and use of their land. It was also to protect Island farmers from direct competition by processors. The act is entrenched in the Canadian Constitution. While Island land has always been a target of outside interests with deep pockets, the NFU believes the Act is more relevant than ever now as the world wide land grab escalates. Continue reading

Land Transactions: Government must exercise its people-given authority

By Douglas Campbell
District Director of the National Farmers Union

The National Farmers Union (NFU), like many other Islanders is still in shock after seeing the Irving family name on yet another land transfer. Rebecca Irving, the young daughter of Mary Jean Irving was able to put more PEI land under the Irving name. No one would dare suggest that Ms Irving’s newly crafted corporation, Red Fox Acres, is connected to Irving corporate empire.

In PEI, people have become accustomed to silence about how the Irving family has gained such wide ranging control. Some people are even afraid to speak out. That is understandable. However what is not understandable and very disheartening to watch is the apparent powerlessness of the PEI Government to exercise its authority in the face of corporate power.

The NFU has emphasized the need to place emphasis on enforcing the “protection” aspect of the Lands Protection Act, i.e, its spirit & intent. The loopholes in the Act have served the interests of the Irvings and others in the corporate sector. We have also warned about the lack of transparency in the MacLauchlan government’s Business Corporation Act. This act received unanimous support from all MLAs in June, 2018).

It is significant that when the Irving corporations, in their varied combinations, were no longer allowed to use the Lands Protection Act loophole, they found an open door in some provisions of the Business Corporation Act. The 2,200 acres to which they wanted titled ownership suddenly became the property of a newly formed corporation. Then an Irving family member, under the Business Corporation Act, was able to buy this new corporation and its assets aka, the 2,200 acres. All legal, they say.

Governments of the past did not display a simple deficiency of political will to protect the resources and life sources of PEI. Rather what they have displayed is a distorted political will to openly serve the interests of corporations. Do they think that the people do not see this? It is common to hear people say that it is corporations which run PEI, not government.

It is our belief any government which lurks behind the veil of powerlessness is unworthy to govern. This is an opportunity for a new government to take a different path to protect the Island, its land/water and its people. Our message to the current PEI Government is that you have the authority to make legislation. Now use it. You have the authority to replace any legislation or articles of legislation to protect the interests of Islanders. Now do it. You have the authority to declare null and void the latest Irving acquisition (and maybe some former ones). Now do it.

The NFU would like to see the Honourable Bloyce Thompson take a stronger stand against the latest Irving acquisition. He is not only minister responsible for agriculture and lands but also as Attorney General is the overseer of all legislation. Minister Thompson must be seen to take control of the situation. The same goes for Premier King, who in the fever of the election campaign vowed to make open and transparent the workings of the Business Corporation Act and its Regulations. Open and transparent government was his pledge to Island voters. We are still waiting to see the openness and transparency.