Thursday, November 26, 2009

Victory for Wild Salmon

Does the Fisheries Act have teeth?

An update from
Alexandra Morton, November 26, 2009

We are one step closer to applying the laws of Canada to salmon farming! It was a pivotal day in court. Although it is only one more step towards enforcing the laws of Canada on fish farmers,  it was essential if we are to bring reason to this situation.

In September I laid charges against Marine Harvest for illegal possession of juvenile wild salmon. This came after months of correspondence with Fisheries and Oceans, asking them to uphold the Fisheries Actand lay a charge themselves.

Today was our third court appearance. The first two were simply to set dates, and then extend those dates so that the Department of Justice could review the details of the case. Today's appearance was a "process hearing" with a judge to lay out the charge and our evidence. The judge could either have refused to issue a summons, or approve the charge.

Today in Port Hardy, the judge approved the charge and a summons will be issued to Marine Harvest to appear in court and the trial could proceed.

There are several directions this could take from this point:

1. The Department of Justice could take the case over and run the case. My lawyer, Jeff Jones and I are hoping this will occur as this is truly David against Goliath, a tiny North Island law firm working Pro Bono to date, against a multi billion dollar international corporation. A round of applause for Jeffery and Marianne Jones they have done so much already!

2. If the Department of Justice takes the case, they could proceed to trial where all evidence can be heard, and a Judge will rule on the merit of the case. Or, the Department of Justice can stay the charges and the case is closed without a trial.

3. Jeff Jones and I might have to run the trial ourselves. While this seems a good idea, the reality is a tidal wave of paperwork that could overwhelm his firm, even though this appears to be an extremely straightforward charge which many fishermen have faced. However, well funded corporate defendants can stretch a trial out for days if not weeks, making it extremely costly for a private citizen to enforce the Fisheries Act.

In any case we are setting precedence. Canada cannot manage its fisheries in a sustainable way unless the laws about how many fish are caught are enforced. Over-fishing is a global problem, it is not sound management to allow salmon farmers unlimited access to BC wild fish.

Thanks to all of you for all your support. If you know anyone who would like to join us in signing the letter to the Minister of Fisheries to PLEASE ENFORCE THE FISHERIES ACT, the letter is still on our website Until the Federal government is
willing to uphold the laws of Canada we will continue to do what we can to fill the void.

My deepest thanks to all of you, we face tough stretch ahead, but once again the courts have agreed with our position.

A remarkable film will be released next week on the Global impact of salmon farming, here is the trailer:

No individual can right the wrongs we have wreaked on our planet.  Thank you all for being with me on this.

alexandra morton

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Local food includes local meat

New Democrats are introducing a bill in the legislature today which, if passed, could mean meat from local farmers can be purchased directly by customers.

The new bill amends the Food Safety Act, which will change the current rules that all meat offered for sale must be processed at centralized facilities, a burden for some small producers.

“Forcing farmers to ship their animals hundreds of miles for processing not only makes local meat unaffordable, it also puts undue stress on the animals and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions,” said Lana Popham, New Democrat agriculture critic, calling it a "common-sense bill".

“Even as increasing numbers of British Columbians are looking for local food choices, the centuries-old tradition of the family farm is at risk,” said New Democrat MLA Nicholas Simons, who introduced the bill.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fresh evidence BC government supports off-shore oil drilling

Minister Blair Lekstrom: "We believe it can be done".

"The Battle is Still Someone's to win."

by Catherine Turnquist

Last Friday was National Child Day, a day meant to recognize the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Among them are the right to healthy development and the right to pursue an education.

The machete trail being currently hacked through our social and health services is putting those rights in jeopardy. Children, particularly those with special needs, must always be a priority, whatever the economic climate. If their needs aren’t met, their health, growth and education are all compromised.

Intensive therapy for autism, treatment for Fetal Alcohol Disorder, services for children with Down’s Syndrome, an anti-bullying program for schools, literacy initiatives – all are being dropped in favour of deficit reduction.

Public health nurses, the only clinic in B.C. for youth with addictions – supports we expect to have available are being lost almost daily. It took years to build up some of these systems and if we let them go now, it will take years to get them back - if we ever get them back.

This has become nothing less than a fight for what kind of society we want to live in and what kind of province our children are going to inherit. Priorities come from values. Values are what make a society what it is, what decides how liveable and how civilized it is.

If we don’t insist that our government protect special needs children, we're moving a step closer to barbarism, to social Darwinism. The biggest, strongest and most-neurotypical will thrive. The children with autism, or cerebral palsy - they'll all get trampled and have their meagre resources strip-mined for cash by the very public officials meant to protect their interests.

Fight, people. This really is life or death and the battle is still someone's to win.

Nov. 20, 2009

Thanks Monday Magazine!

Nov. 12-18 2009 issue.

I'm cramming for an A+ before the end of the year.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

BC Legislature must come together in support of a Global Climate Treaty in Copenhagen

Yesterday in the Legislature I rose to ask all MLAs to make a joint appeal to Prime Minister Stephen Harper to engage constructively and help make the Copenhagen negotiations next month a success.

I will be following up with Premier Campbell on this request and will let you know what happens.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Agriculture and the Green Economy

Here is a short speech I gave yesterday in the Legislature in support of a private member's motion made by Rob Fleming. This motion would strengthen our green economy and I spoke about the important role agriculture can play.

Friday, November 13, 2009

New website shares intimate messages from B.C. parents to children with autism

Parents of children with autism have opened up their hearts and personal lives to British Columbians, describing the triumphs and struggles of raising their children, said MLA Lana Popham.

“The new website,, offers a window that few of us ever look through. It’s a window into the world of people with autism and just how challenging - and inspiring - it is to raise a child with autism," said Popham. “The parents are bravely sharing their experiences with the public, so other British Columbians have the chance to experience a little of this private world.”

Launched today, the website will allow the parents to record their personal messages to their children. The parents created the site as a response to the B.C. government’s recent decision to cut funding for early intensive behavioural intervention (EIBI).

The public will have access to the private thoughts of care-givers as they struggle to explain to their children the devastating effect of the B.C. government’s cuts.

“While you can never truly describe what living with autism is, this site can offer a glimpse into the challenges and victories we endure and celebrate every day," said Hollie Davis, a mother to a child living with autism. "Often those who live with autism or who are raising children with autism are completely isolated. It’s wonderful to get to a point as a parent that you can say 'my child may have autism, but autism does not and will not have my child'.”

Autism affects approximately 1 in 165 children in Canada, a number that is steadily increasing.

“Our hope is that the stories here will help raise awareness of the importance of funding EIBI for children with autism in addition to creating a support system for parents and care-givers alike," said Sylvia Michalewicz, co-founder and volunteer coordinator of

Thursday, November 5, 2009

No HST on bikes in BC!

Hi Everybody,

This week in the B.C. legislature I took on a challenge from Ian Black, the Honourable Minister of Small Business. Minister Black claims no bike stores have contacted him regarding the new 7% tax on bicycles; and he is arguing that making bicycles less affordable will not reduce bike sales.

I’m saying cyclists all over British Columbia agree that increasing the cost of cycling is not going to get more people riding their bikes! We don’t want our government to add a new tax on buying a bike. No HST on bikes in BC.

It also directly contradicts the BC Liberal government’s “Great Goal” of making our province environmentally sustainable.

To meet our provincial Climate Action Plan Goals we must strengthen transportation options like cycling. The HST on bicycles and cycling equipment will create a disincentive to cycling.

Visit a Victoria bike store like Recyclistas and you’ll hear how many view this issue.

"[The HST] is kind of frustrating”, said Luke Postl of Recyclistas, “especially with things like helmets. Helmets are already a huge chunk of money for some people. You have to wear them, or you get a fine, and now the cost is going up. The cost is going up on other accessories too — oil and grease, patch kits, reflective stickers and locks. All of that was PST-exempt. I'm against the HST. I think it will alienate a lot of people from riding. It's added a cost that is too much. The cost of living is already exorbitant, and the minimum wage isn't going up.”

This week I reminded the Minister that for almost thirty years bicycles have had an exemption to the provincial service tax. This has always been good policy: it supports healthy living and less polluting transportation.

John Luton, a Victoria City Councilor and transit expert sums it up: “Cycling is our fastest growing mode of transportation, especially in Victoria and Vancouver. When it comes to cycling, Victoria is setting standards across the country demonstrating the viability of cycling as an environmentally friendly, convenient and low cost commuting alternative. During a time when governments across the world are looking at ways to encourage cycling, our government has imposed a brand new tax on bikes. It just doesn’t make sense - and this decision must be reversed.”

I want the government to withdraw the Bill creating the HST and develop a tax plan based on consultation and the will of the province. We just completed an election where the Liberals said in writing they were not contemplating a HST. Bringing it in now without a public debate is an affront to democracy.

I am asking every cyclist and environmentally-responsible person out there to sign the petition at   
Thank you!

Best, Lana

(We’ve created a pdf version that you can print out and have at bike stores etc. Let me know if you want me to email you a copy.)  

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Taxation of Local Farming needs Improvement

Hi all,

A number of people have asked me what is happening with the results of the Farm Assessment Review Panel and the report they submitted this summer.

Today, in Debates, I asked the Minister responsible for an update. In a nutshell, he said the government is still working on it and they hope to make a decision on the panel`s recommendations for 2010 before the end of this year.

A number of you have also spoken to me about how unfair the farm tax re-assessment process has been as the decision-makers don’t seem to understand that organic farms are often structured differently than conventional farms: they may be smaller but still very productive; and they may make use of natural assets like buffer zones, or forested land as part of farm and if so, expect that these areas be considered as part of the farm to a reasonable extent when their taxes are assessed.

I raised the issue of how harmful the assessment process has been to farmers and got a commitment from the Minister to be included in their discussions as to how they move forward.
I`ll keep you in the loop and please share your thoughts and concerns with me.


Lana Popham.

PS. The picture is of Dieter Eisenhawer and I. Dieter is an excellent local organic farmer. (This is a picture of a recent visit I made to his farm: he is admiring my un-farmer-like fingernails).
PPS. Transcript is below.






Morning Sitting


Committee of Supply

L. Popham: I'm under the impression that the farm assessment review panel falls under this ministry, and I'm just wondering if the minister would be able to confirm that for me. 
Hon. B. Bennett: Yes. 
 L. Popham: The report was submitted this summer, and I'm wondering at what point the recommendations would be accepted or would be implemented for farmers in B.C. 
Hon. B. Bennett: When I saw the member come in, I turned immediately to the farm assessment review project briefing note in my binder. The member knows that there are recommendations that go to 2010 and recommendations that go to 2011. 
What I can tell the member today is that we are looking seriously at the recommendations that relate to 2010. We have not made a final decision. It's government. There's process to go through. There is still some consideration of these recommendations to take place, but we're well along in terms of thinking about how and when. 
With regard to the recommendations for 2011 and beyond, we are also discussing those in some considerable detail and trying to determine all of the implications of implementing those. We've got more time with those, and we're going to take some more time with those. 
L. Popham: I understand that there's process in government, but the reason I bring this up is because the destructive way that this assessment project was initiated has actually brought a lot of damage, probably, to my constituency, Saanich South, and it's damage that is not reversible at this point. We've had farmers walk away from their farms outside of the agricultural land reserve. 
I would like to impress upon the minister that the priority of finishing this project is crucial. The reason I'm saying that is because we have farms outside of my constituency — for example, in Sooke — that are trying to make future plans. The way that they have been treated through the assessment process…. I think the future isn't certain for the way that they're able to continue their business. 
The farm that I'm talking about is a farm in Sooke called ALM farm. They do a seed business. The future of it is in jeopardy because of these recommendations not being brought in, in prompt time. 
I would just like to make sure that it's a priority, and I would like to know if I would be able to be included in those discussions about which recommendations would be accepted. 
Hon. B. Bennett: I'm sorry. I took a little bit of time to discuss this with staff because I would like to be able to give as much assurance and certainty to the member as I can on this. 
I'd like the recommendations for the 2010 tax roll. We have the process that I referred to earlier. I'm going to do my very best to effect this change by regulation prior to the end of this year so that it would take effect in 2010. 
I'm not there yet, so the member and the agricultural constituents that she refers to will still have some uncertainty. They should know that we're well down the road on this. Certainly, the minister likes the recommendations and is attempting to get this resolved before the end of the year. I think that's probably the closest to a commitment that the member can get from me here today. 
L. Popham: That's fine. I understand that there is a process. I'll repeat again that I would like to be included in some of those discussions about the recommendations. 
Hon. B. Bennett: I'm sorry, hon. Chair. I should have responded to the member's request. I am more than happy to involve the member to whatever extent she wants to be involved in this discussion. Members of the opposition meet with me fairly regularly, and they're all invited to do that. Despite the fact that I might get a little testy in here with the member from Port Alberni, he's welcome in my office any day, if he has a problem that he wants to work through on behalf of his constituents. 
The same holds true for the member asking the question. I know that she is an expert in agriculture, so I would value whatever advice she has.