Did you hear recently, that the NS Liberal government is concerned about species at risk? Did you happen to read that bees and other pollinators are among 71 species in Nova Scotia that desperately need protection?
Did you hear too that the NS Liberals are committed to working to protect these species? Did you then throw up in your mouth a little bit? Maybe you choked on the BS that is and always has been Margaret Miller and Stephen McNeil’s disingenuous environmental hogwash?
For the past four years, this government has approved and increased the common use of clear-cuts and carcinogenic herbicides in complete opposition to prior attempts to curtail and eventually phase out such forestry methods. And they have also done so with absolute disregard for the public interest. They call these Forestry Practices, but fail to identify them as bad forestry practices. As is evident, these “practices” have a funny little side effect or two on humans, but also on our flora and fauna.
In 2015, a long running concern about Glyphosate was further supported by the IARC in a report they released classifying Glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. There have been debates about this report, but it has been found those debating it are hampered by conflict of interest concerns. Branches of scientific studies were found to have been funded or partially funded by Monsanto, the manufacturer of Glyphosate. The other argument that doesn’t get as much airplay is that Glyphosate does not work alone. It is mixed with surfactants that help it do its job. POE (polyethoxylated tallow amine) is a highly toxic chemical commonly mixed with Glyphosate in products such as Round Up. While glyphosate has been deemed carcinogenic and is tied to non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in farmers who use the product, POE has been found to cause fertility issues as well as birth defects, still births and miscarriages.
Last year, even in light of the recent findings, and stubbornly in spite of the public opposition, the NS Liberal Government issued multiple permits for the use of VisionMax and other herbicides that contain Glyphosate. One of the most obvious concerns in these approvals was that the MSDS reports, on the products approved, shed very little information on what is being sprayed. We know for example, that 48.8% of VisionMax is Glyphosate, but the other 51.2% is a secret. “The specific chemical identity is being withheld because it is trade secret information of Monsanto Company.”
This year, a few more permits were issued, which has residents pretty steamed. It’s just an insult to those of the public who were very thorough with their opposition and data on the product. But a funny thing has happened this year too. This year, the permits do not disclose what chemical is being approved. The permits refer to the application and supporting documents, and so the only hope of finding out what is approved is to file a FOIPOP request. And that opens another can of worms. By the time a request is ever fulfilled, if the filer can afford the astronomical rates recently adopted by the department to curtail requests, the spraying will be completed and another year of poisoning the forests gone by.
When you look at a clear cut, it is stark, dry, empty and soulless. Very few birds are around. Streams have been destroyed and the ground is compacted by machinery. The ecology is changed. Wildlife is an obvious and easily observed impact of clear cutting and herbicide use. Deer populations are down in the province, per recorded hunting tags and reports by wildlife specialists, but the ongoing problem of urban wildlife has seen a drastic increase of deer and other animals in towns and cities around the province. Truro residents were so flustered by deer in their tulips, that it opened a discussion on deer culls. The fact that there was a forest nearby had people confused. Why wouldn’t the deer stay there? Deeper consideration would tell us that the forest may not include all of the appropriate space, vegetation, access to water, things deer need. But thinking even deeper, one should wonder is that swatch of forest over there suddenly overpopulated, because deer are being displaced by clear-cuts in the forests beyond? In the Highlands National Park, a moose cull over the last few years has been opened to help with an over population of moose, impacting the forests in the park. But no one in government seems to want to talk about the intense deforestation of the plateau or other parts of the highlands.
So did the at risk list that has grown to include 71 species surprise me? No. Did it make me angry? Yes, but about more than just the 71 species. Just four years ago, in July 2013, 19 of these species were added, so almost half of these species are recently deemed at risk, and no one thinks we should be taking a break from poor behaviour to figure out how to do better? The Minister of Natural Resources, Margaret Miller, has the portfolio control to halt clear cuts, but shows no desire to do so. She is also the former Minister of Environment, who approved the many dozens of spraying permits last year. Then she issued a statement on September 1, regarding these species…birds, plants, snapping turtles, lady bugs, lichen, pollinators like bumblebees and butterflies, among so many. Glyphosate kills bees and other pollinators, Margaret, by essentially starving them to death. Field doses of glyphosate are found to make it harder for bees to sense the nectar they need, and nectar that is brought back to the hive is tainted with glyphosate. Bees that were exposed to glyphosate also showed signs of forgetting how to get back to their hive. Clear cutting destroys habitats, Margaret. When you cut down all the trees, completely clearing large tracts of land, all the species that lived there are now homeless.
Her statement was a real treasure. “These species are of significant conservation concern, and we will continue to work with the public, industry and all land stewards to protect them and their habitat,” said Natural Resources Minister Margaret Miller. “All of us can help protect these treasured species by becoming better informed, and by taking care when we are out in the forest, wetland or other habitat where they live.”
Give me a really long freaking break.
What she should have said maybe was that they will continue to allow industry to do as they please, ignore the public but point the finger at them as the ones who need to take care, and talk falsely, to those who still believe them, about being committed to protecting and conserving, all while they permit the ongoing poisoning and decimation of the very habitats they claim they care about. And as far as all of us helping to protect? OK. Stop ignoring those of us who actually sincerely want to protect.
This government has handed control of crown lands over to the same industry that has been destroying them, approved clear cuts in and around protected areas, and continue to ignore the pleas from the public for change. There is no regard for the protected areas at all. The Liscombe Game Sanctuary had clear cuts approved within its boundaries. Clear cuts on the border of Kejimkujik National Park went forward without consideration of the damage from wildfires on its other boundaries or impacts to the park. Long Lake Provincial Park was damaged, by illegal clear cuts that were done, in theory, by accident. The clear cuts dig deep into the crevices of the protected areas along the tributaries of the Margaree Watershed. A quarry and pre-commercial clearing have been approved around the Waverly Game Sanctuary and Long Lake Salmon River Wilderness Area and when DNR was asked about the progressive plan, spraying was not off the table. A DNR officer was quoted as saying, “We’re not ready for that, yet.” The land in question is also in the Shubenacadie River Watershed Area that supplies parts of Dartmouth, Fall River and East Hants.
People in rural NS are no less aware or busy than those in towns and cities and vice versa, but there is a suspicion as to whom the messages from the NS Liberals are for. It seems they can talk about a place while far removed from the topic, and so the words seem meaningful, but they’re not. Some of the rural folks rely on their woodlots for income and are forced to agree to clear cuts in order to sell their wood equitably. How can they compete with the crown land resources being given away for pennies a ton? Others who live near the clear cuts or visit areas impacted tell stories of the destruction that is occurring. Secreted behind 30 metre buffers – supposed wildlife corridors and waterway protectors, but more obviously blinders for what is happening behind them – or far back in the deep woods, where they might only be found by accident, these clear cuts represent more than just their visible scars. They are not monitored or regulated. Not the roads dozed over brooks and streams to access them, not the size of the trees cut, not the real value of the tree stands left behind. Not the impacts they have on water ways or groundwater resources. Not the impacts on our air quality that removing our carbon filters will have (especially considering the fact that much of them are being burned and creating more carbon.) The government can tout science and data all they want, but the visual evidence is drowning them out. There is very little science that can support this devastation. A black bear curled up exposed to the elements in the middle of a clear cut in winter, trying to hibernate. A moose passing through a recently sprayed tract of land. Brooks and streams where fish have been captured full of tumors. Deer brought down by hunters with tumors and physical deformities. These things matter to all of us.
The current Minister of Natural Resources has made her mark and gotten her point across many times over her tenure in this and the Environment ministry. She is clueless, a yes man for McNeil and a friend to the very industries that are destroying this province at an alarming rate. She made her position on public concerns very clear in May 2016, at the legislature. I’ll let her speak for herself…
I don’t think that little flub will ever escape my memory. And I don’t think anyone should let it escape hers. She has acted on those words ever since. In her dealings with the Bay of Fundy fishermen, the quarry groups around the province, the residents who filed complaints about wetland destruction, the public opposed to spraying, protests about the rate and size of clear cuts, Pictou residents suffocating in pulp mill emissions, First Nations communities trying to protect their rivers and rights. She and the Premier have continued to ignore anyone who speaks out against their approved attacks on our environment, treating the “letters from the public” as nothing more than a pesky bit of bother. And the same attitude has been passed down to the latest Minister of Environment who approved burning tires in Brookfield and permitted an Environmental Assessment to proceed in spite of violations for a quarry expansion near Glenbourne.
And after all of this, they expect us to appreciate their patronizing and insincere claims about the species at risk in this province. Next year I expect the species added to the list to be kept secret and only released for an obscene fee through FOIPOP. Even then, their names will most likely be redacted.