Montreal, February 2, 2002  /  No 97  
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Harry Valentine is a free-marketeer living in Eastern Ontario. He can be reached at
by Harry Valentine
          It has long been known that empire building occurs within government bureaucracies. Senior bureaucrats often seek to increase the scope of their influence, their power and prestige by endeavouring to increase their budgets and the number of subordinates who report to them. In the past, the salaries of department heads and senior bureaucrats would also increase. Historically, bureaucrats and department heads received their budgetary allocations from one department at one level of government. An exception to this practice exists in Eastern Ontario, just west of the Quebec border, where bureaucrats employed in conservation authorities are receiving their budgetary allocations from three levels of government.
          The federal government has recently given grants to what is supposed to be a department of the Government of Ontario, which oversees natural resources and environmental issues. These departments are conservation authorities. Traditionally, they have been partially funded by the province and partially funded by municipalities located in the areas in which the authorities operate. These authorities are supposed to report to and are overseen by boards of directors. These boards are made up mainly of municipal politicians who represent the different municipalities in which the designated area.  
          Criticism of municipal political behaviour has recently appeared in a weekly journal in Eastern Ontario. The critique pertained to how a lack of knowledge in certain areas results in many municipal politicians becoming pawns of bureaucrats who then easily manipulate them. The conservation authorities are recognised as provincial agencies employing provincial bureaucrats. They are supposed to be accountable to committees of municipal officials who have very little authority over them. In a bizarre fiscal practice, these provincial conservation authorities in Eastern Ontario have gained access to federal funding. This funding is intended for a variety of projects related to the environment.  
          Some of these projects involve rivers in Eastern Ontario, including a section of the St. Lawrence River. The provincial management and protection of the wildlife in that region has increased the waterfowl population in several locations along the St. Lawrence River. Among some unusual side-effects are two public beaches, located west of the international hydrodam, becoming toilets for geese. These beaches are frequented by campers from Quebec during the summer months. The size and number of deposits that the waterfowl leave on the beaches is comparable to a pack of several hundred dogs having visited these same beaches and all having squated down to leave their calling cards. If any harm comes to any of the waterfowl in the area, intensive investigations follow and culprits face heavy fines. An Eastern Ontario cheese factory was heavily fined during 2001 because a few waterfowl died near a pond on the factory grounds. 
Conservation storm troopers 
          Conservation officers have been granted extraordinary powers to protect wildlife. They may demand access to private homes to inspect the contents of freezers and refrigerators and without requiring a court order or a search warrant. Through the environmental and conservation laws, the state has granted itself totalitarian powers that are as yet unchallenged in the courts. The precedent that has been set under environmental law could be extended to the civilian police forces at the state's discretion. Few people may be aware that the foundations of a police state, in which constitutional rights and freedoms become irrelevant, already exist in parts of this country. 
     « The size and number of deposits that the waterfowl leave on the beaches is comparable to a pack of several hundred dogs having visited these same beaches and all having squated down to leave their calling cards. »
          The provincial conservation departments are empowered to protect the habitat of waterfowl living along the St. Lawrence and they exercise this power with a heavy hand. In undertaking this task, a proposed 500-acre business park was prevented from being developed over a period of many years. It was to be located along the St. Lawrence River just west of the Quebec border. The developer had been prevented from initiating the project by the area conservation authority. Appeals to former Ontario Premier, Bob Rae, fell on deaf ears. Eventually two cabinet ministers from the Harris government did visit the region to inspect the site for themselves. They reprimanded at least one conservation authority officer and overruled the conservation authority regarding the proposed business park; however, 20 percent of the designated land still had to be allocated as habitat for ducks. The developer eventually abandoned the plan to develop a high-tech business park along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River.  
          A proposed residential development plan that involved digging inlets off a river that feeds into the St. Lawrence, would have resulted in executive style homes that had direct waterway access being built in Eastern Ontario. The combination of a high-tech business park plus these types of executive homes would have boosted the economy of the region of Ontario just west of the provincial border. The project had been stalled for many years, courtesy of the provincial conservation department. They wanted to protect fish spawning grounds. After many years, the fish still spawn despite the existence of the new inlets. The power granted to a conservation authority has already prevented a private economic development program from being undertaken in a part of Eastern Ontario, something the conservation bureaucrats shrug off as something insignificant. 
          A few miles away near St. Zotique, Quebec, a thriving community was built around waterway inlets. Every home in this community has waterway access and homeowners can park their boats at a dock in their backyards. Very rarely is there ever a house up for sale or rent in this waterway community. The very kinds of communities which exist along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, between Côteau-du-Lac and the Ontario border, were also planned for the Ontario side of the border. Priority was instead given to waterfowl habitat, a policy which has affected fish stocks in the Lake St. Francis area that borders both Quebec and Ontario. 
          The explosion in the waterfowl population along the St. Lawrence on the Ontario side, has depleted perch stocks in Lake St. Francis because perch is on the diet of the waterfowl. A resident of Coteau Landing or St. Zotique who may have once fished for lake perch in Lake St. Francis during the summer months is likely to have caught undersized fish if he has tried during the summer of 2001. There is a licenced commercial perch fishery operating in Lake St. Francis (Ontario side) and they get their licences from the same conservation authority which protects the waterfowl habitat. The perch being served in area restaurants on both sides of the provincial border has to be imported from outside suppliers, including from overseas. The small size of the perch being caught in Lake St. Francis is not suitable for market. 
Bureaucrat protecting waterfowl eating perch protected by bureaucrat... 
          The provincial bureaucrats and their conservation authority prevented economic development from occurring just west of the Quebec border. By acting to protect the perch and they protected the waterfowl habitat, they have also handed new economic development potential over to the Quebec side. The waterfowl living in the habitat the bureaucrats are protecting are eating most of the perch that the bureaucrats are also protecting. If this is not enough, the federal government has now given the provincial bureaucrats and their conservation authorities federal funding to create new breeding grounds for fish, in some of the rivers that feed into the St. Lawrence.  
          There is a private perch hatchery on a Mohawk Reserve located in Lake St. Francis and the question begs to be asked as to whether the new federally funded fish breeding grounds are intended to compete commercially with this hatchery. The only other alternative is that the extra fish are going to be bred to feed the ever increasing waterfowl population. Nobody at either the federal or provincial government levels seems in any way interested in hearing about the increasing waterfowl toilet problem that the government programs have been creating, or the waste of tax dollars to breed fish to feed waterfowl. This policy is in its purest form nothing more than a policy for the birds. In Ontario, not only is it against the law to shoot waterfowl, but a homeowner will face charges if a waterfowl lands on his property and his dog kills it. The waterfowl population problem that is being created in Ontario will eventually spill over into Quebec, due to the shared border along Lake St. Francis.  
          The shenanigans of the conservation authorities and the powers they have been accorded, is turning into an elaborate charade in which the state is increasing its powers without the population at large even being aware of what is really happening. Already, bureaucrats formulate regulations which a minister can sign into law, without any debate before any elected assembly. On more than one occasion, laws and policies have come into existence by Order-in-Council, bypassing discussions before parliament. Totalitarian state powers are creeping in slowly and surely and during a crisis, politicians and bureaucrats could "borrow" a precedent from environmental law and apply it to another area, to restrict the rights and freedoms of citizens. Many citizens may be left wondering how it could be that such totalitarian laws could actually have existed on the books for so many years and nobody even knew. 
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