Treat farming like any industry and clean it up

Alison Taylor
The Toronto Star
September 7, 2001

When it comes to polluting, farmers shouldn’t be treated any differently from industry, the Walkerton inquiry heard yesterday.

Among the experts at the public hearing in Toronto was Elizabeth Brubaker of the Energy Probe Research Foundation. Farmers treated like industrialists, she said, would have to bear the cost of preventing pollution on their land.

Her comments came in contrast to previous suggestions at the inquiry that farmers should get subsidies, grants or loans to help them comply with federal environmental laws.

Brubaker said that as long as current farming methods are considered legally acceptable, farmers will have no incentive to make their farms more environmentally safe.

She asked inquiry commissioner Dennis O’Connor to make a distinction between methods farmers consider "normal" and those that are more environmentally sound.

It was also suggested yesterday that the provincial environment ministry should take more comprehensive responsibility for dealing with environmental contamination.

Miriam Diamond, who spoke on behalf of the Canadian Environmental Defence Fund, maintained the ministry was the best body to assume such responsibility because it has the human and financial resources as well as wide geographic scope.

Diamond stressed that sound policy would look at issues involving water, air and soil pollutants comprehensively.

"You cannot have a water protection scheme that does not look at air . . . they’re all connected," she said.

The public hearing will continue at Metro Hall today. The inquiry winds up Sept. 25.

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