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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: NFU outraged at government for not holding Irving to account

Dairy cows much hay at a farm in Quebec. Shubenacadie dairy farmer Gerrit Damsteegt says supply management makes his industry more stable. Ryan Remiorz
Dairy cows much hay at a farm in Quebec. Shubenacadie dairy farmer Gerrit Damsteegt says supply management makes his industry more stable. Ryan Remiorz - The Canadian Press

The National Farmers Union (NFU) says that “total farce” would be the best words to describe the appearance of Robert Irving of Cavendish Farms before P.E.I.’s standing committee on Communities, Land and Environment, on Tuesday, Nov. 1.

The committee is supposed to be examining land holdings on Prince Edward Island as related to the Lands Protection Act. In the fall of 2017, the committee passed a motion to invite Cavendish Farms, Vanco Farms, and GEBIS to appear before the committee to discuss their land holdings.

It has taken all this time for a representative of Cavendish to finally appear before the committee. Vanco Farms has not even responded, and the committee has made it possible for GEBIS to remain absent.

Robert Irving’s appearance made a total mockery of the whole procedure of examining land holdings on Prince Edward Island. How is it that Robert Irving gets to dictate to this government committee that he can commit a mere hour to them claiming he has somewhere else to be?

In his 40-minute presentation he made no effort to explain Cavendish’s land holdings. Rather he talked about what a great job his company is doing, and that they need the island’s water resources for irrigation to grow potatoes. As well he took it upon himself to state that the land limits need to be changed to allow potato farmers twice the acreage because of the investment they must make in the industry.

It was a total snow job and the Liberal dominated committee allowed it. Chairperson Kathleen Casey closed the session down before any real questions could be asked about the issues around the lack of protection this government is providing to the Island’s precious land resource. The government members, with their obsessive hear-nodding at almost every word from Robert Irving, would have given him assurance that he was with “his own people.” Robert Irving must have left assured of the government’s ongoing support for his plan to continue to rule the economy of P.E.I.

CBC in its interview on Compass Tuesday evening allowed Irving to repeat his campaign message and totally avoid giving any answers about the real issue of land control by corporations in Prince Edward Island.

Thus, Islanders are none the wiser about how much land Cavendish owns or is controlling in the province. It is unfortunate that the media in attendance missed the real story. They need to take steps to correct this and start asking hard questions around our land issue, because it is apparent the present government won’t.

Douglas Campbell,

Southwest Lot 16,

District Director of the National Farmers Union

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