Andy Walker

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Once again the state is amassing its resources against Skye View Farms and owners Alex and Logan Docherty.

The farm was charged under the Fisheries Act in 2018 following a fish kill in the Clyde River that occurred in July of 2016. The company's lawyers filed a challenge under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, claiming fisheries and conservation officers conducted a search without obtaining a warrant.

In her ruling, Chief Provincial Court Judge Nancy Orr agreed, noting in a written decision "if there are procedures that need to be followed and they are ignored where there are legislative avenues available to obtain the evidence you need, then when you do not take them, the court should not reward individuals who follow that course of activity."

When the evidence was excluded, the Crown was unable to proceed and the case was dismissed. The Crown announced last September it was planning to appeal the dismissal and laid out the grounds for its appeal in a document filed with the Supreme Court August 20.The question that has to be asked is why the Crown is amassing such an effort against one Island farm family?

Canadians have a right to expect that those who are given law enforcement powers will follow the law. Judge Orr was quite clear that didn't happen in this case and ruled accordingly. The appeal essentially argues the fisheries officers did not have reasonable grounds to obtain a search warrant and Judge Orr made an error in law when she "relied exclusively on the existence of “reasonable grounds” as determinative of the issue.

If the Crown does not get the result they want on the appeal, will they keep going as far as the limits of the law allow? The smart money says yes unfortunately. While the court option should always be there, it should be the last resort rather than the first choice.

Still with weather events, the rain that occurred August 25 brought some welcome relief to growers facing one of the hottest and driest summers in decades. However, it came too late for some fields and there are fears over 20 per cent of the potato crop could be lost.

The summer has once again sparked the debate on whether the ban on high capacity wells for agricultural purposes should come to an end. Most people can agree that climate change is a definite reality and crops need water to grow. While good soil organic matter definitely helps plants retain moisture during dry periods, all plants need at least some water.

This issue has always been highly politicized and any discussion of even studying the issue sends politicians scurrying. At the very least Islanders deserve an explanation of why keeping the greens at their favourite golf course poses no threat to the province's water supply but irrigating our food does.

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