Agricultural associations such as the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Grain Growers of Canada and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association have sounded the alarm over Bill C-68, the Liberal law they believe “will place a crippling regulatory burden on family-owned operations.”

Bill C-68 amends the Fisheries Act. It could lead to puddles in farm fields being classified as fish habitat. Presentations by Fawn Jackson, Senior Manager, Government and International Relations with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Erin Gowriluk, Executive Director of Grain Growers of Canada and Frank Annau, the Environment and Science Policy Advisor for the Canadian Federation of Agriculture say farmers would have to leave puddles and watering holes alone.

According to Jackson, it would “virtually impossible for beef producers to be in compliance with the act.”  It would affect irrigation channels, dugouts, floodwater, standing water after rain, and run-off during rain.

Under the Liberals, Environment Canada already considers highway ditches to be fish habitat. Cattlemen cannot afford to see if their farm reservoirs will be next with no suitable means of compliance except to spend large amounts of cash. This money would have to be spent in addition to the new Liberal carbon tax that disproportionately penalizes farmers and rural residents.

Conservatives want the legislation clarified to exempt farmers from normal and traditional activities.

Farmer-built drainage ditches, reservoirs and irrigation channels are currently subject to provincial regulations that protect water flow. Bill C-68 would mean a farmer would be prohibited from moving a drainage ditch or filling in a reservoir that is no longer needed even if there have never been fish in it.

When Bill C-68 was first introduced, it did not include the controversial amendment that agricultural producers, supported by the Conservatives, find so offensive. As a consequence, farm groups were never given the proper opportunity to be consulted before the Bill was rammed through Parliament by the Liberals. It is only now, as the legislation makes its way through the Senate, are Canadians hearing from farm organizations.

While Canadians have been distracted by the daily scandals that rock Ottawa, like the SNC-Lavalin and the Vice-Admiral Mark Norman corruption cases, bad legislation like Bill C-68 continues to get pushed by an unethical government that is drifting leaderless towards the next election. Farmers are stewards of the land. They aspire to leave a healthy farming environment for future generations. Bill C-68, just like the Liberal government, threatens the future viability of the family farm.

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