Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
In recent decades environmental bureaucracies have grown by leaps and bounds. Far more tax dollars are now devoted to environmental concerns than was the case 40 years ago.
I count myself among those who, until recently, thought this was a great thing. It’s reasonable to task some government employees with the job of championing the natural world which we all share and benefit from.
But bureaucracies have a dynamic all their own. It seems that the larger and better funded they become the more disconnected from reality they grow.
Here in Canada environmental bureaucrats are kicking a beleaguered corn farmer when he’s down. It isn’t bad enough Martin Reid is experiencing a nightmare Spring. His fields are currently under a meter (3 feet) of water due to flooding – which means his growing season has already been severely compromised.
Among those flood waters is a species of fish. Apparently, when he experienced similar flooding back in 1993, Reid used pumps to dissipate the water, but fish were killed in the process. As a result he was fined $1,000 for – get this – illegal fishing. He was also advised that a second offense could involve a $100,000 fine.
Rather than launching a fish rescue mission themselves, the bureaucrats at Fisheries and Oceans Canada have chosen to sit in their armchairs and make life difficult for this man who’s fighting for his economic survival.
Reid has been obliged to purchase a fishing license and, according to a news story:
He’s under strict orders to safeguard the lives of the carp once he begins to expel them.
“We have to collect all of them, and we have to fish both sexes, that’s what (the permit) says,” Reid explained.
“I have to transport them so as not to damage them, by containers with water inside. If some of them die, I have to bury them.”
When contacted by a journalist, provincial authorities supported their federal bureaucratic counterparts:
“The idea is to help farmers,” said Jean-Philippe Detolle. “The licence was issued to reassure them they won’t be fined.”
This is how you know you’ve woken up in a Kafka novel.
h/t Theodore Lichacz