12 days in jail for making compost
©1991-2012, Randall Prue
Six years in the making. Later additions/updates are dated.
Officials of Carignan, Quebec acted swiftly to put an end to a suspected organized compost ring within its territory. In the absence of a law that specifically prohibits the dangerous substance, officials were obliged to resort to an arcane, little-used by-law which prohibits the storage of dead leaves. Suspected of being an important figure in an international composting conspiracy, Randall Prue was convicted September 25, 1991 in Chambly Municipal Court of illegal storage of dead leaves. Prue’s connections to compost go back three decades and it’s no secret that during this time he has made tons of the stuff, encouraging others to do the same. Considered a compost expert, he is often seen demonstrating how to make the stuff to hundreds of people at a time.
The illicit manufacture and distribution of compost is of global concern. While many cities ignore the problem, and in some cases even encourage composting, Carignan is vigilant. In spite of the high cost to the public for gathering evidence and pursuing this matter through the courts for nearly two years, it was worth it. If those compost people want to set up shop in Carignan, they’re going to have a fight on their hands! They’d better try somewhere like Westmount where stuff like this is subsidized.
Even if Parks Canada is interested in Mr. Prue’s composting expertise, Mayor Paul-André Perreault made it clear in a telephone interview that he will have no part of it and that he has no intention of replying to Prue’s written offer to waive his usual fee to initiate a community composting project. Mayor Perreault is nobody’s fool!
Formerly famous for farm land and proudly boasting that 92% of its land is agricultural, Carignan is better known today for bungaloonies, a rash of city halls, and numerous lawsuits, all in the interest of serving its population of 5,000±.
Likely out of modesty, 29-year-old Carignan Inspector Stéphan Ménard refused to comment to C.B.C. NewsWatch, except to say that their interest in the case was “ridiculous”. In his testimony, Ménard admitted that he doesn’t know the difference between dead leaves and compost anyway. To C.B.C. radio he said that Prue broke the law and was treated according to regulations. When interviewed for Atmosphère, the environmental report on Montreal’s cable weather channel, Météo-Média, Ménard stated that “Prue’s leaves were encircled and contained in snow fencing, and it was really not aesthetic”, and that, as in most municipalities, citizens put their leaves into containers for collection by the garbage persons. He declined an invitation to defend his actions on CJAD’s King/Duff current affairs program. Such modesty is rare these days.
Carignan’s reluctance to concern itself with compost may well be explained by its own statements in “Le bulletin de Carignan” Vol. 3, No. 2, June 1990.
“The protection of our environment: A PRIORITY”
“Carignan is doing its part for the environment.”
With all this effort spent on the environment, the city can hardly be expected to have any time left to concern itself with composting as well. The mayor goes on to compare himself to David crossing swords with Goliath over the [proposed new] dump site. He states that “The city is prepared to obstinately defend the environmental aspect so dear to the citizens of Carignan.”. Its recent actions against Prue’s Dead Leaves Society graphically illustrate this commitment to the environment. The mayor continues, “Until now the only environmental guarantee for the citizens is the firm position upheld by the city of Carignan.” Prue disputes this, but then he’s a convicted leaf-hoarder.
Perhaps the city’s secretive approach is to prevent tipping their hand to other compost criminals. Probably for the same reason, Carignan refuses to tell citizens what they should do with their dead leaves. It is known, however, that Prue uses neighbour’s leaves to make his compost, preventing the leaves from arriving at their lawful destination—Montreal’s controversial Miron quarry, where they are combined with garbage from many other places to manufacture several finished products: vermin, bio-gas, carbon dioxide, and assorted health and safety risks. These products are distributed freely to the quarry’s neighbours.
One journalist attempted to penetrate the city’s shroud of secrecy by asking Ménard for his side of the story. The journalist was threatened with a law-suit.
Apparently a hardened criminal, Prue has no intention of ceasing his illegal activity. He is prepared to go to prison to pay his debt to society, but, according to a clerk of the court, Carignan would rather have the money ($210.00), no doubt to finance its continuing anti-crime campaigns.
To make sure there’s no compost in Carignan, city officials are spending thousands more tax-payers’ dollars in court to prevent a proposed dump and/or recycling facility within its boundaries. Press releases concerning the project openly admit that finished compost would be given to residents. Once you let one of those new European style recycling facilities in your town, there’s no telling what might follow it. We won’t have our citizens’ yards filled with compost where little children might get their hands on it and grow some trees—or worse—food.
The city failed in its attempt to have Prue remove evergreen seedlings from his property, which he steadfastly refused to part with for the sole reason that he likes trees! He claimed they had been given to him by Quebec’s Forestry Ministry. Ménard is not blind, however, and anyone who would plant 300 trees in 5 years has got to be up to something. Unable to prove that ten dead seedlings were the basis of an illegal commercial operation, the city was forced to stand by and watch as two charges were dropped. Prue will be allowed to continue to grow trees. A suspected link between the trees and the compost has yet to be proven.
Like many other illegal composting operations, Prue used farming as a front. In an effort to remove this possibility, the city ordered him to cease farming in spite of his mandate from the provincial government to do so on government-protected farm land. He will have to find some other way to finance his composting activities.
In spite of the conviction, it is suspected that Prue has simply taken his operation underground, making compost in secret farms around the south shore where Carignan officials have no authority. Unless the city can involve provincial police and other municipalities—maybe the R.C.M.P.—these clandestine sites will likely remain in operation.
Crime is not new to Carignan where, under unprecedented circumstances, former federal cabinet minister Richard Grisé was asked by the country’s leader to resign a few years ago; he wanted to keep his elected position in spite of an R.C.M.P. investigation into wrong-doings. There’s enough rot around here already without people making compost.
Following Grisé, we elected Phillip Edmonston of the New Democratic Party—the party that induces labour and fights for us working stiffs. In his role as Ralph Nader North of the Automobile Protection Agency, Phillip worked for many years to make our automobile mechanics more honest—obviously the right man to keep the bureaucrats out of the compost. His office stated that municipal affairs are not in their jurisdiction. The environment, as we all know, is an insignificant local issue. Edmonston is presently busy defending the rights of American Express card-holders and merchants, who would doubtlessly be in dire straits were it not for his concern and intervention.
As long as composters are allowed to run loose believing they have some God-given right to grow their own food, no one is secure. Only through the continuing efforts of cities like Carignan will the world be compost-free and the pavement safe to roam.
Unless you want the view from your swimming pool ruined by flowers, trees and vegetables…