DENIAL: Climate Change Minister on defence over trespass scandal

Keean Bexte

August 24, 2022

Trudeau’s Climate Change Minister, Steven Guilbeault, is on the defensive, finally responding to Saskatchewan Minister Jeremy Cockrill’s warning that federal agents could be arrested for trespassing on private land to take samples.

Climate Change Minister on the defence over trespass scandal
Climate Change Minister on the defence over trespass scandal

“I believe that we, and Canadians, are best served when we engage on the facts—not heated and misinformed rhetoric,” writes Climate Change Minister Guilbeault in a signed letter to Cockrill.

“…. On August 11, Environment and Climate Change Canada water scientists were taking samples alongside a highway in Pense, Saskatchewan on behalf of Health Canada. A landowner approached the scientists to inform them that they were in fact on private land.”

As previously reported by The Counter Signal, not one but several landowners, according to Minister Cockrill, have contacted the Saskatchewan government to raise “serious concerns about Government of Canada employees, in clearly marked Government of Canada vehicles, trespassing on private lands.”

As per the farmers, they were told by federal climate change agents that they were testing water sources for pesticide/nitrate levels on farms in the Pense, Mossbank, and Pilot Butte areas of the province.

While Guilbeault does not deny that it was possible that Government of Canada employees might have trespassed on a farm in Pense, Guilbeault contradicts Cockrill’s report of the farmers’ account, outright denying that the agents weren’t there to test nitrate levels.

“You brought this matter to my attention in your very public and very frank letter of August 21,” writes Guilbeault. “I also took note of your comments openly speculating about the work of these scientists. Please allow me to be equally frank and public in my response: departmental officials are not testing water for nitrates or nutrients related to farm runoff, and their study is not related to the non-regulated, voluntary goals of the Government of Canada in an effort to reduce emissions from agricultural fertilizers.”

Guilbeault continues, calling reports from outlets like The Counter Signal on Trudeau’s prospective nitrogen reduction policy that will see nitrogen capped at 30% below 2020 levels by 2030 “misinformation.”

“The claims made in the media about this incident compound other recent misinformation regarding the voluntary nature of the fertilizer emission reduction goals, mischaracterizing work that is voluntary, unregulated and being done in partnership with Canadian farmers to reduce emissions, not fertilizer use,” Guilbeault writes.

To be clear, The Counter Signal has never stated that Trudeau’s goal of reducing nitrous oxide emissions from fertilizer has passed the house or senate and become the law of the land.

We have, however, brought attention to the prospective policy and what it will mean for farmers and Canadians at large if it were to pass, and this reporting is backed up by Fertilizer Canada, which has stated that attempts to reduce fertilizer emissions will result in less fertilizer use and lower crop yield consequently. It doesn’t matter what the government’s stated intent of the emissions reduction is; that’s the inevitable result.

As per a report from Fertilizer Canada:

Total Emission Reduction puts a cap on the total emissions allowable from fertilizer at 30% below 2020 levels. As the yield of Canadian crops is directly linked to proper fertilizer application this creates a ceiling on Canadian agricultural productivity well below 2020 levels….

It is estimated that a 30% absolute emission reduction for a farmer with 1000 acres of canola and 1000 acres of wheat, stands to have their profit reduced by approximately $38,000 – $40,500/ annually.

In 2020, Western Canadian farmers planted approximately 20.8 million acres of canola. Using these values, cumulatively farm revenues from canola could be reduced by $396M – $441M on an annual basis. Wheat farmers could experience a reduction of $400M.

Besides the media, Canada’s former Agriculture Minister, Gerry Ritz, was so disturbed by the possibility of this informal policy being made a reality that he took it upon himself to go on the biggest live news show in the world, Tucker Carlson Tonight, to voice his concerns.

But I guess Ritz is just a hapless victim of “misinformation,” too. 

Guilbeault continues his letter, saying that Environment and Climate Change Canada is now “reviewing its sampling protocols” just in case agents did “inadvertently” encroach on private lands to make sure they’re following the law in the future as a “measure of good faith.”

In an email to The Counter Signal, ECCC confirmed that they were reviewing their sampling protocols before undertaking any further testing.

“We have many great and common challenges as Canadians that require our united action and effort. All orders of government should be able to agree on the value of collecting baseline scientific data, in accordance with the laws of the land, to protect the health and safety of Canadians,” Guilbeault’s letter concludes.

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