After almost four years, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) has withdrawn all charges that Paul Skippen pled not guilty to. Mr. Skippen, from the first, agreed that in attempting to chase a huge flock of geese from his newly planted grain field, he had killed one. As his permit had expired several days before, he agreed to the investigating officer Kyle Wood that he was guilty of that offense. He was served a few days later with several charges that, to say the least, were very creative. These “creative” charges have finally been dropped, but not before a deep rift has developed between the Manitoulin farming community and the MNRF.
The blatant disregard for the farming community and crop predation has led many to view the MNRF with distrust. I am afraid that this distrust will never be resolved. Consider this: Conservative Officer Kyle Wood and his partner, while investigating this matter, entered a neighbour’s property and removed a trailer. The OPP was called, and it was returned. Why were they (the officers) not charged? Mr. Wood, while under oath, represented himself as an expert who could tell from a shell casing that he found 30 feet into the grain field that the shot was fired from the middle of the road! I believe that this was a deliberate attempt to impress the justice of the peace, Ms. Darlene Hayden, and it evidently worked as she registered a conviction. On appeal, this was overturned. This leads me to Mr. Dan Williams, the prosecutor in this matter. By impressing on the court that CO Wood was an expert, he is culpable.
I personally have lost all respect for the ministry. Trumped up charges, misrepresentation and misappropriation, they tried everything to punish a guy who was just trying to protect his livelihood. Mr. Skippen is exonerated, at a big cost of time and money that he has lost, but the MNRF has lost something more valuable—the respect of a bunch of people who work long hours for damn small pay, the farmers of Manitoulin.