On Sunday, August 21, 2022, Saskatchewan’s premier Scott Moe took to Twitter to demand an explanation as to why the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault’s department was “trespassing on private land without the owners’ permission” to take water samples.
Premier Moe linked to a letter sent from Saskatchewan’s Minister of Highways and Minister Responsible for Water Security Agency Jeremy Cockrill to Steven Guilbeault demanding an explanation and end to this by the federal government.
In the letter from Cockrill to Guilbeault, Cockrill says that “Recently, Saskatchewan producers in the Pense, Mossbank and Pilot Butte areas contacted the Government of Saskatchewan and raised serious concerns about Government of Canada employees, in clearly marked Government of Canada vehicles, trespassing on private lands.”
The letter continues, “When approached by producers, these employees indicated that they were testing water sources for pesticide/nitrate levels.”
Cockrill indicates that the land and water body (a producer’s dugout “are both privately owned.”
Adding that the “Government of Canada representatives did not request permission to enter from the landowners, nor did they seek permission to perform testing or advise landowners of any other purpose or necessity for attendance.”
The letter points out that “General water quality management falls under provincial jurisdiction” and that “The federal government should in no way be interfering with the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency’s mandate to manage this area,”.
“While consulting on the creation of a Canada Water Agency, your government indicated that it would not infringe on provincial jurisdiction but would work in collaboration with provincial governments.”
“Your attempt at covert testing of water bodies on private lands in this matter, without collaborating with the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency or any Government of Saskatchewan ministry, has created unnecessary fear and disruption to our citizens while also displaying a disappointing act of bad faith.”
“These actions call into question the federal government’s motivations when it comes to water management in Canada”, Cockrill writes.
Cockrill also said that if Guilbeault’s department does not cease this activity, it could be “considered a violation of the province’s Trespass Act.”