NOTE: With so many irons in the fire, the remaining 7 people on the list will be grouped into one remaining article with a paragraph on each one. As important as it is that we not forget the corruption that was exposed and not adequately resolved in 2021, more important is the ongoing corruption that needs to be exposed, interrupted, and addressed in the court of democratic public opinion that’s happening now.
The bronze “third-place” finisher in the competition for the 2021 “Annual Cradle of Corruption Cup” goes to Steven Myers.
Not for any one thing mind you, but for a whole suite of bombastic statements, bully tactics, and brazen betrayals on a range of issues, many of which he passionately stood for and publicly declared with moral certitude on behalf of his caucus, as the most outspoken and animated member of the PC official opposition.
Take the CMT lawsuit for example. Myers and I worked closely together on that file, sharing FOIPP documents and insights. He knew then – as he knows now – that the defense filed by MacLauchlan in the Appeal Court contesting the claims of CMT were and are complete lies – Myers clarified and documented many of those lies contained in the filing in the House during Question Period, but from the minute he was elected, CRICKETS!!! Coward!!
Farmland bank was another BIG betrayal burying some of the best work that I’ve ever done in my life designed to begin a reversal on a range of negative trends affecting farmers, rural communities, and especially the viability of our soil.
If people only knew how excited Myers was about my report when I was writing it and talking to him about it right up to the time I submitted the final copy just before Christmas, 2019. Myers had apparently approached both Paul MacNeil and Andy Walker at the Eastern Graphic a number of times, anxious to do a promotional interview on my “excellent” report, even calling them back several times wondering what the holdup was.
Then Christmas happened.
My report had obviously been read by people who were able to not only kill every shred of enthusiasm for the report in Myers, but charged him with a new mission: bury the report and disparage the work of it’s author, which Myers dutifully did. Whereas quick as a bunny to respond before Christmas, this is what I was facing after Santa’s visit:
Andy Walker told me that early in the New Year he attempted to contact Myers a number of times to do that story that he was chastising the Eastern Graphic for not making more of a priority before Christmas, but could never get a response, and told me he finally gave up trying.
I kept pressuring Myers to have the report made public, and it was finally posted obscurely on the website with no mention of anything by government, but in the end, Myers told Stu Neaty essentially that the problem with my work was it focussed too much on fixing the soil health problem (which it did do, but doing that while also meeting all the requirements of a farmland bank, which I believe is some of the uniqueness and what is exciting about the approach I recommended) and that the Department intended to “start from scratch”.
In a front-page Guardian article titled, “Amid row over research, P.E.I. land bank ‘in limbo’,” reporter Stu Neatby wrote:
“Myers said that when Arsenault was commissioned to conduct the study in the summer of 2019, the expectation was that the research would focus on the “mechanisms” required for his department to purchase land, as well as possible ways in which a land bank could be funded.
Arsenault’s final report, which was quietly posted online in April, contains nine policy-related recommendations about the establishment of the land bank. But it also contained a larger, systemic critique of large-scale industrial agriculture in P.E.I. The report focused heavily on the need for improvement of soil health to be a key policy objective in the establishment of a land bank.”
There was no “row”….just a betrayal.
Neatby’s article continued:
“Arsenault disputes that the findings of his report were outside the bounds of what was expected at the outset.
He said he met with Premier King in August 2019, along with principal secretary Adam Ross. In this meeting, Arsenault said he told the premier that he would need to extend the timeline and scope of his research.
“I realized two things. One, I had to do a much more significant jurisdictional scan of all the provinces. And I also needed to do a longer overview of soil-related issues in terms of what’s gone on here in the last 20 years,” Arsenault said.
“His words exactly — he looked at Adam and he nodded and he said ‘we’ve got to make sure we do this right,'” he said, referring to King.
Arsenault said Myers’ objections to the report’s wider focus are in contrast to his communication with the minister throughout the fall of 2019.
“It’s absolutely a betrayal of the policy that I gave to Premier King before he became premier and what he publicly said he was going to do,” Arsenault said.”
What a lie! That interview was a memorial for the ideal that the PC government would ever put a Farmland Bank in place – as promised:”
I should point out that when I met with the Premier and Adam Ross, it was as a result of concerns over egaming and the fiasco that was unfolding in Hon. Matthew MacKay’s department. I had spoken with Matthew several times about the pending release of the Commissioner’s Order, how I had evidence that his Deputy Minister had lied, that Brad Mix had lied and covered up the destruction of documents, etc.
MacKay told me at that time that he didn’t honestly know who he could trust in his department, that the whole thing was “above his pay grade” and told me that he wanted me to bring those concerns directly to the Premier, and that he would take the initiative to set up a meeting, which he obviously did, because I subsequently received a call from Adam with a mtg. time for a meeting with the Premier.
The problem being that Adam apparently decided to keep the Premier in the dark about the real purpose of the meeting, or at least the Premier said he hadn’t heard anything from or about Matthew MacKay when I brought that up at the outset of the meeting.
The nearly 2 hr meeting spent 1 hr and 45 minutes or so talking about various issues related to corruption in government, King’s decision to keep Neil Stewart (secretly) in government, the destruction of records, the Defence full of lies King was continuing to defend that MacLauchlan had Jonathan Coady with Stewart, McKelvey Law firm file in the Appeal Court of PEI, and other such issues.
As for the credibility of the research in my Farmland Bank report, the former long-time director of the NFU, Urban Laughlan, published this opinion in Island papers.
To make the death of the idea of the establishment of a farmland bank more “official,” [but in a ‘quiet’ sort of way] the Minister of Agriculture noted that a plan was being finalized that would include “timelines for implementing the recommendations”:
“The Land Matters Advisory Committee has been working hard over the past nine months by listening to Islanders and creating this report on how to best deal with and protect our Island’s most precious resource – the land.Our team is already taking steps to review the report and finalize a plan that includes timelines for implementing the recommendations.” – Agriculture and Land Minister Bloyce Thompson [See: “Land matters final report and recommendations available,”].
Guess what the Land [doesn’t apparently matter] Committee recommended regarding a farmland bank?
Land bank: The topic of a land bank is related to
the issues of access to farm land and support for
new entrants. The Committee heard a range of
views from stakeholder groups on this matter.
However, it is important to note that key agricultural
stakeholder groups – such as the PEI Federation
of Agriculture, Dairy Farmers of PEI, and others –
expressed to the Committee that there are more
effective means of supporting access to land, new
entrants to agriculture, and succession planning. In
the end, the Committee concluded that there was
not sufficient evidence to support recommending
the creation of a land bank. [p 14]
When the time came for Premier King to renege on his HARD promise to ban deep water wells, Hon. Natalie Jameson was the Minister at the helm of the Department with that mandate….exit, stage left…time to bring in the enforcer. Myers didn’t just tell everyone, unabashedly, that he was driving the car and wouldn’t be taking directions from Maggie Simpson in the back seat, but went WAAAAAYYY beyond what was necessary to be an effective traitor, and bashed the NFU as “racist”. IMAGINE!!!
If you haven’t read the public letter from Doug Campbell and Edith Ling published December 1, 2021 in the Graphic, don’t skip over it here!
Still no apology
Dec 1, 2021
On May 5, 2021, during the spring sitting of the Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly Steven Myers, Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Action, used his parliamentary privilege inside the House to
disparage the National Farmers Union by calling them racist. Minister Myers was not addressing a legitimate issue. Anyone familiar with the work of the NFU knows otherwise, and those who don’t may wish to inform themselves through our online materials or talking with us in person.
Rather, on May 5th, Minister Myers misused his privilege and influential position as a member of the Island government to inappropriately use the serious and sensitive issue of racism to deflect attention away from the
true matter, which is the ownership and health of our primary resource.
The National Farmers Union has raised the ire of the current government and past governments by refusing to be silenced concerning the intense and ongoing abuse of the Prince Edward Island Lands Protection Act – abuses, which successive governments have allowed thus resulting in more and more of our land coming under the control of corporations, foreign interests, and a small percentage of Islanders, who have their own private
agendas related to concentration of wealth and resources. For the NFU, racism does not play into the equation of expecting our elected representatives to uphold, strengthen, and support the ownership and health of our land, and ensure a future for all Islanders.
The NFU attempted to take the matter of the slur up with Mr Myers. He didn’t have the mutual respect to engage in conversation or offer an apology for his unfounded statement. The NFU, after numerous attempts, finally secured a meeting with Premier King to talk about Island land and water. In the discussion with Premier King, the NFU addressed the issue of Minister Myers’ behaviour. Premier King acknowledged the offensiveness of his minister’s remark, and made the promise that he would urge Myers to make an apology in the next sitting of the Legislature.
The fall sitting of the House has come and gone, and it appears Myers has made no apology. In truth it was not expected by the NFU, and we doubt had it come, that it would have held any true sincerity.
However, as an organization we feel it is important the public be aware of this ugly incident on the Island political landscape. It greatly reveals the character of some of those we have elected to represent us. In the May
5th incident, other MLAs supported Mr Myers by banging on their desks and hooting like undisciplined school children who have not learned the lesson of respect for one’s critics.
Though your faces may have been hidden from the camera, much was revealed about what you stand for. If systemic racism is a true concern for the government it may wish to look inward and address the predominantly white male biases that have long influenced government, political parties, and backroom supporters. The democratic process for which so many of our ancestors fought to establish and preserve deserves better.
Islanders deserve better. Other Island organizations should not assume they too will be treated any different should they digress from the government agenda. There needs to be checks on such behaviour. If Mr Myers assumes stooping to hits below the belt will silence us in striving for better for independent Island farmers and current and future Islanders, then he is mistaken.
We call up the spirit of the NFU’s founding Statement of Purpose: “The common hope and aspiration of us all is that the creative power farmers possess may be a blessing to humanity and not a curse. It is our hope and
aspiration our families may live in dignity and prosperity – that we may, as farmers, live in harmony with one another and that all of the world’s people may live in peace.”
National Farmers Union Executive, District 1, Region 1,
Douglas Campbell, District Director and
Edith Ling, Women’s District Directo
Having served as the National director of the NFU based in Saskatoon with Wayne Easter back in the early 1990’s, and having maintained a respectful and dynamic relationship with them since that time, I can think of no other farm or rural-based organization that has done for education, programming and active policy work to address the issue of racism than the NFU.
Being disingenuous goes with the territory when you’re a true politician willing to play the tune given to you – when you’re in opposition, there’s one tune; when you’re in government, there’s another.
The tune Myers played (Rock Anthem loud) with Ghiz when in Opposition was that he needed to be held accountable for the willful destruction of government records, a criminal offense, and he supported his fellow justice critic when he held up my investigative report into that very matter demanding the government follow up with a formal investigation with an out-of-province law agency.
What goes on in the mind of someone like Myers who can publicly make such declarations against a former Premier he apparently sincerely believed was (and therefore still is) a criminal at large? Yet, he says (as a member of the government) that he doesn’t believe Ghiz ever did a single thing without the best interest of Islanders at heart? Really?
Once again, my apologies for puking. Out of gravol.
Myers not only has flip-flopped on all the big issues, like egaming, landbank, deepwater wells, but prides himself in being the government good, a soggy relic from the partisan days of professional politicians without other skills in life making a career out of pretending to care for people when the only thing on the table is their own career and what they have to do with the Insider Club powerbrokers to remain in their good graces.
“I think it is utterly silly if not reckless to remain silent in the face of the evidence before us.” Mark Mallett
That was a very enlightening read Mr. Arsenault. You must have read Secrets Of The Soil and Bread From Stones?
I myself am an experienced soil amendor (dirt fixer) only from the physical side of IT; lime, minerals, green and brown manure, low till/no till, water management, erosion prevention, beneficial insects, companion planting, chemical free, no GMO, organic, biodynamic, yadda, yadda, yadda.
Unfortunately as IT is, no one in government will truly care about farm families until their own bellies cry out from want. Big AG, much like the other bigs, are only concerned with maximizing acquisition, control and profit from the disintegration of the humus soil and the human soul.
You’re a real David, Kevin. Now go load your sling!