Open Letter: Dear Mr. Colwell

Turkey and FarmerBelow is an open letter to Keith Colwell, Agricultural Minister for Nova Scotia. At this time, it has been sent to Colwell and Premier Stephen McNeil (with an additional note that this letter was written for Colwell’s eyes). It will also be sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

You are welcome to use this letter as a foundation and send it to Colwell yourself and any other government official you think should read it. Please, make it personal to you.

All branches of my family have a long history in Canada. We were settlers, farmers, fishermen, loggers and labourers. Many of us thrived in this way of life because it was what we loved. We don’t want to see our abilities limited to do this by our current government.

My biggest fear is that this is only the beginning of the limitations government intends to impose on Nova Scotians. Future generations will look back and wonder why we didn’t fight harder to keep our freedom of choice, our freedom of being self-sufficient and our freedom to raise our own food for our personal consumption.

*The funding cut for 4-H Nova Scotia was announced at last week’s annual awards banquet. I thought someone said Colwell was a big supporter of 4-H.

Dear Mr. Colwell,

This letter is to formally ask for your resignation as Nova Scotia Agricultural Minister.

The government in Canada is a people’s government, operated by Canadian citizens. Elected officials are public servants of these people. We cannot only vote you in, we can also vote you out. We also pay your wages, which means you answer to us, the people.

I am a person, recognized official as such in 1929, and I have the right to ask you to step down from your post. Of course, I do not take this action on a whim. Following are the reasons I have asked for your resignation and why you should provide it:

  1. In a time when world food security is at risk, you have taken it upon yourself to make Nova Scotia more vulnerable by taking away our right to raise turkeys and process them at small butchering facilities. These local butchers provide a much-needed service to individuals who do not have the time, money and means to visit the few government inspected facilities scattered across the province. Furthermore, you suggest you will threaten the individual’s right to slaughter their own birds (turkeys and others) on their own property, citing health concerns. Perhaps you are unaware that people, just regular folks, have been raising, slaughtering and eating their own birds since we discovered they were a means of food. No doubt there have been times in the past four thousand years when someone died from this process, but why condemn everyone for eternity for a few mistakes made by careless individuals?
  1. In a time when Nova Scotia is losing many young people to the west, abandoning one of the most beautiful provinces in the country with a long history and rich cultural heritage, you are limiting their job opportunities by making it difficult or impossible to take up farming as a profession. Many young people are concerned about their health and are concerned about the availability of wholesome, healthy food. They have taken the initiative to improve the supply to meet the high demand for a quality, locally-grown, hormone-free, pesticide-free product. Putting up roadblocks discourages many from even considering starting a small farm to either feed themselves or to provide for their community.
  1. In a time when the economy needs more jobs and small businesses struggle to expand their products and grow, you are severally limiting the ability for the small farm industry to prosper by creating unreasonable and unfair regulations.
  1. In a time when our youth need support and encouragement to take up the torch being handed to them from their families and neighbours to become farmers and to continue to provide reliable healthy food, your department has decided to cut funding to 4-H Nova Scotia. This program nurtures young minds and teaches them about all the wonders of farming in the province. It gives them life skills they can’t learn in the public school system. It encourages them to pursue an active life in various forms of farming.

Furthermore, you are supporting the Nova Scotia Turkey Producers Marketing Board in their bid to gain a monopoly on the turkey industry in Nova Scotia. You have not only supported their barbaric actions of reducing the abilities of small rural processing businesses, you silently support their illegal methods of doing so by not speaking out against them.

The turkey board essentially is a group of individuals who raise turkeys and regulate themselves. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all regulate ourselves, as well as make laws to control the actions of others who threaten the amount of money we generate from our businesses? It would be like Tim Horton’s telling the independent coffee shop owner that they can only buy Tim’s coffee, and slip in a contract stating they won’t sell their product, only consume it themselves.

Which brings me to the contract individuals were threatened to sign at feed stores when they arrived to pick up their turkeys in the spring or they wouldn’t be permitted to leave with their birds: that was illegal. The turkey board had no right to enforce such a contract on people, so I would consider those contracts null and void because they were never required in the first place. There was no mention of them when the people paid for their birds, but the paper was suddenly thrust upon the customer when they arrived to pick their pre-paid turkeys.

I did not buy turkeys from the feed stores, so I did not personally see the contract, but I heard many others speak of it. I wonder if any kept a copy for themselves for future reference. Either way, if I had been given the contract, I would have refused to sign, asked for my money back and left the store without the birds because even though I do not raise birds to sell to others, I often raise a bird to give to my mother (who by the way has successfully slaughtered hundreds of birds in her backyard long before you were diapers).

In closing, I don’t know where you came from or your history in Canada, but I feel I can pull rank and ask for your resignation because my family roots run deep in C-A-N-A-D-A. My family has invested more than 250 years in this country. We are hard-working labourers who are part of the backbone of this great nation. The Tibert family was there when Lunenburg was founded in 1753 and they still make this province their home. My McDonald ancestors fought for the crown and opted to settle in the province in 1783. My mother’s side settled on this side of the pond in the early 1800s, so you see, we are experienced settlers who know how to work the land and feed ourselves.

With Remembrance Day fast approaching, I would add that many of my ancestors fought for Canada during several conflicts. My father almost lost his life at the Gothic Line in 1944, all to protect a way of life he loved…now you wish to take it away from us. I hear him laughing at you from his grave. “Like hell he will,” I hear him say as he slaps the turkey onto his workbench and guts it. I echo his sentiment. My father never had much use for politicians or this type of foolishness.

I am sending copies of this letter to Premier Stephen McNeil, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Weekly Press. I will also be posting it to my Moonshire Meadow Blog ( and posting the link to several farming Facebook groups of which I’m a member.

I’ve attempted to learn your farming experience or at least your relationship to agriculture in Nova Scotia, but there appears to be only one small statement made by Truro Mayor Lenore Zann, in which she states “you come from a farming family”. How nice. Before I started farming, I could have said the same thing even though the closest thing I had done was keep five chickens for eggs. Yet my parents have a long history in homestead farming, not business farming. Also, kids of farmers don’t always have a passion for farming. Some don’t care and can’t wait to leave the farm. Are you one of those kids?

City folks shouldn’t be agricultural ministers because they are not in tune to what rural Nova Scotia farmers require and do not have their best interest in the forefront. At least the former Agricultural Minister John MacDonnell was a farmer, one who lived in rural NS and raised sheep.

Thank you for your time.


Diane Tibert

Self-sufficient Homesteader

Milford Station, NS


3 thoughts on “Open Letter: Dear Mr. Colwell

  1. Retire Colwell,you really don’t know what your doing!Stop supporting the “Turkey Board”and leave these people alone!Your not helping small business, that’s for sure!

  2. retire Cogwell, we do not need people like you who does not know what you are doing. i guess you are from the city and do not know how things are run in the country. No body has ever died from free range animals yet that i have heard off

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