Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Rio's Environmental Carnivale

The United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development or the Earth Summit at its debut in 1992 had a twelve year old grab the attention of world leaders. This child became known as “the girl who silenced the world for five minutes,” her words filled with passion, bringing some of those listening to tears. To a gathering of world leaders, some 108 countries had been represented by their heads of state such as US President George Bush Sr. and Canada's P.M. Brian Mulroney, she said, “We've come 5000 miles to tell you adults you must change your ways.”

Fast forward to 2012 the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development or as it was called RIO+20 had no child to stop the world instead glamour was used to sell the concept to the young and inspire them to action. Prior to the Earth Summit several other events were held such as the UNEP Green Nations Fest. Ambassadors for the UNEP, supermodel Gisele and actor Don Cheadle (best known by the young for his Iron Man movie) came to encourage more people to take part in World Environment Day and promise to plant trees. As it was announced some 50,000 new trees were promised to be planted in Brazil, with the first in front of cameras and an adoring crowd planted by Gisele. For the sceptic the question remains, who is really going to keep an official count of the number of trees that will be planted and verified? In a country where deforestation is an acute problem this public gesture looked good on camera.

It has been weeks since the end of RIO+20 and the world stage is preoccupied with a new event, the 'Green' Olympics, perhaps it is the best time to take a look at the Rio Earth Summit and our need for public spectacles such as these gatherings. It is not scepticism but a need for reality that is the motivator now that the publicity has died down and Gisele is off to another fashion shoot, and the other stars and personalities crowding the pages of gossip magazines.

The United Nations Environmental Program, the same UNEP that hosted tree-huggers for World Environment Day, issued a dire warning when it released its Global Environment Outlook. It said “the world continues to speed down an unsustainable path despite over 500 international agreed goals and objectives to support the sustainable management of the environment and improve human well-being.” Data compiled by the UNEP shows that water quality and access to clean water still is the most important issue for many countries, and by 2015 more than 600 million people will lack access to safe drinking water. Water is a basic ingredient to human survival and these statistics are alarming.

Elizabeth Thompson, Executive Co-ordinator for the Rio Earth Summit had said, “We have failed. We have not properly maintained the issue of sustainable development as a way of living, doing business. That is the overall reason why we have not made the kind of progress that we should have.” Thompson said that the Rio conference is hoped to be a “transforming moment” (Connie Watson CBC news, UNEP report). Yet unlike the first Earth Summit of 1992 there will be no agreements that will legally bind countries to meet any environmental targets. This time it is a gentler RIO+20 where countries will be asked to work voluntarily to reach targets they set for themselves. How much of a “transforming moment” was it really when it was all over?

In 1992 climate change was a new concept, today it is the basis of argument. Simply put many argue that Earth is simply going through changes and that the notion of climate change is merely a tool of the alarmists'. A recent poll in June conducted by the Washington Post and Stanford University showed that concern over climate change dropped from 33% to a low 18% as the number one environmental issue. Climate change is a hard sell in some ways even though we have enough changing around us to demand attention. The last decade was the warmest on record and in 2010 emissions from fossil fuels were at the highest level. “Under current models, greenhouse-gas emissions could double over the next 50 years, leading to a rise in global temperatures of three degrees Celsius or more by the end of the century UNEP said. The annual economic damage from climate change is estimated at one to two percent of world GDP by 2100 if temperatures increase by 2.5 C, it warned. The UN's target is 2 C.” (The Vancouver Sun 'Earth's Resources in Peril, UN Warns', Agence France – Presse June 8, 2012).

Still arguments will rage over the validity of science and those who have their own motivations will continue to point to historical evens as an explanation. Yet RIO+20 was not solely concerned with climate change. Instead it was an overall discussion on the sustainability of our Earth encompassing all facets of consumption, development and trade. Environmentalists from dozens of organizations had an opportunity to put their agendas forward, amongst organizations such as Prosperity Without Growth, UNCTAD and UN Global Compact, Christian Aid, World Wildlife Fund and so many more - all these interest groups looking for attention and all with their own views on what we need to safeguard our future.

RIO+20 was not only a meeting of government representatives, heads of state and NGO's, it was a set of conferences where corporate CEO's played the most important role. It is the business world that in fact has the power to bring about change and influence government policy. Whether it is the CEO's of Shell and BP with the development of Canada's oil sands, or Dow Chemicals and its production in Brazil or the mighty power of the world's stock exchanges with the ability to promote long-term sustainable investment in their markets, the will to change is in their hands.

To some this may be a frightening concept, that the true future of Earth rests in the hands of the few and the wealthy. Peter Bakker head of World Business Council for Sustainable Development had this to say in relation to the many various gatherings and sustainability initiatives around the world, “they don't even begin to make a dent in creating a more sustainable world.” He said that “Business has the technology, innovation, management skills and financial resources to help us lead us toward a more sustainable future, and mind you, business has the will to do this.” (the guardian,'RIO+20: the Earth Summit diaries' by Jo Confino).

Adding to Peter Bakker's sentiments on the power and will of global business, CEO's from the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (a network of sustainable banks), the Green Economy Coalition, and the Norwegian Forum for Environment and Development presented their proposals. Andrew Kroglund, Director of Information and Policy at the Norwegian Forum for Environment and Development said, “Reforming the financial system will require a range of enabling policies and cultural changes.” (the guardian, 'RIO+20: the Earth Summit diaries' by Jo Confino). It is hoped that these proposals will help create sustainable products, promote diversity to increase innovation, improve long-term sustainability reporting and discourage speculative activities with no social benefit. And not to forget a catchy new slogan, 'banking because the future matters.'

What is RIO+20 to be remembered for? It had no twelve year old child to silence the world or bring tears of emotion to our audience. After all we have had twenty years of maturity since the first Earth Summit of 1992. Today climate change is not a new concept with dire warnings, rather the basis for argument on its validity. We do have 'green' as a term or label of pride such as 'green' products and organically grown produce at the supermarkets, most costing double the usual price. Peter Bakker's CEO's can at least do their part for the 'Green' Economy with the purchase of these 'green' products which most of the ordinary folk cannot afford.

RIO+20 did bring celebrities such as Leonardo Di Caprio, Sir Richard Branson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and not to forget the opening guests such as Gisele and Don Cheadle, and hundreds of CEO's from around the world. US President Obama did not appear, nor did Canada's Prime Minister Harper or British P.M. David Cameron. Canada's Environment Minister Peter Kent was very happy with the lack of any firm commitments, he said “It does not have
unrealistic, inappropriate binding commitments, and that's a good thing.” (Heather Scoffield, The Canadian Press).

Was RIO+20 simply a carnival marking the twentieth anniversary of an event that brought global attention and commitment to our need to work together for the future of this Earth and for humanity as a whole? Was it an opportunity for ominous warnings as that by the UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon when he said, “If we really do not take firm actions, we may be heading towards the end – the end of our future.” Canadian environmental groups stayed away as did our prime minister, though international groups such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and others made their voices heard.

Whether the opinion of RIO+20 is that of a failure or of a stepping stone for the future, the words of Cicero Lucena and John Geemer prior to the opening of the summit ring loud and clear. They speak of the true legacy of the Earth Summit of 1992 without the child or the emotion:

“Yet, two decades on, all the major scientific indicators continue to flash red. And sadly, it is now clear that a large part of the summit's riginal potential has been squandered. Since 2000 alone, forests equivalent in size to the land mass of Germany have been lost; 80% of the world's fish stocks have collapsed or are on the brink of collapse; and the Gobi desert is growing by roughly 10,000 square kilometres every year.  The list of environmental pressures grow by the day, and there can be little doubt that the unsustainable use of natural resources will be the biggest challenge facing mankind in the 21st century. So why haven't we done better since 1992?” (the guardian, 'Why Rio failed in the past and how it can succeed this time). Senator Cicero Luccena is first Secretary of the Brazilian Senate and President of GLOBE Brazil. Lord Gummer is a former UK environment minister and president of GLOBE International.

Lasse Gustavsson of the WWF had this to say of RIO+20, “We don't need meaningless pages right now. What we need is a manual to save the world.” (the guardian, Jo Confino). RIO+20 produced a Lego manual and if anyone is familiar with one of those than you will understand just how much trouble we are in. Still there is the 11th Conference of Parties (COP11) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CCBD) in Hyderabad, India in October, and the 'Green' Olympics.

Whereas in 1992, a twelve year old Canadian girl stood before world leaders and said, “We've come 5000 miles to tell you adults you must change your ways,” now it is we the adults who have to motivate you, the young to adapt the knowledge and make a difference for our combined future.

Another child stopped the world and brought many to tears. Who can forget the little girl running in Vietnam burnt and in pain. The horror of war had no more an alarming depiction yet it did not stop war, nor the pain of children.

Send comments to: demtruth@gmail.com 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Grabbing 'Integrity in Politics' by the Horns

On July 7th 2012 a fundraiser was held in St. Catharines its title and slogan repeated by speakers should of meant something more than hypocrisy. Instead Integrity in Politics was a shameful face put together to raise funds in support of Eleanor Lancaster. Lancaster's own words at the end of her speech, “we do hold our politicians to a higher standard,” still fouls the air with duplicity and hypocrisy.

Mayorgate has raised a number of questions in articles relating to the illegal contributions for the municipal elections of 2010. One question has been repeated over and over again, how was it possible for Eleanor Lancaster to decide she would become judge and jury, how was it possible for Eleanor Lancaster to intentionally leave out the biggest contravener with the most illegal contributions from her sanctimonious scrutiny? Mayor Brian McMullan of St. Catharines had more illegal contributions than anyone else in the Municipal Elections of 2010 and Eleanor Lancaster intentionally left Mayor Brian McMullan out of her audit request. Integrity in Politics is a worthy goal to aspire to but it is sad that Eleanor Lancaster seems to equate her version of integrity with her selective justice.

Attending Integrity in Politics Fundraiser knowing that the chief fundraisers were Jeff Loucks and Andrew Gill required self control. Mr. Jeff Loucks is not known to Mayorgate though Andrew Gil is very well acquainted in the pages and articles presented in the past. It was the opening speech by Jeff Loucks and his statements which set the scene for the rest of the evening. Mr. Loucks said that “it does not matter if this was a mistake those contributions were illegal,” and then followed up with “when all candidates follow the rules that is a true test of our democracy.” No one could argue with these statements though they were expressed in the wrong place and the wrong time.

The Webster's Dictionary has this as a meaning for the word integrity - “the quality or state of being of sound moral principle, uprightness, honesty and sincerity.” For hypocrisy Webster's says “a pretending to be what one is not, or to feel what one does not. esp. a pretence of virtue, piety etc.

Integrity in Politics Fundraiser and Eleanor Lancaster as its centre can only lay claim to the latter description. Mr. Sean Foley took the podium to introduce Eleanor Lancaster, he spoke of her country upbringing, her devotion to her husband and then her work. He brought to attention Eleanor Lancaster's nine years as a Regional Councillor and commented how Lancaster was on the Executive Committee of the Niagara Regional Council, “so she was well aware of the whole operation.” Now the fabric of Eleanor Lancaster's excuses and motivations begin to unravel.

As Eleanor Lancaster took the stage herself the groundwork of hypocrisy had been laid. Eleanor Lancaster opened with these words “Governments have put in place strict financial regulations to guard the integrity of those candidates who have put their names for elections.” True there are strict financial regulations for municipal elections but it was Eleanor Lancaster who decided she would choose who would face scrutiny. Lancaster said many things relating to the Municipal Elections Act, that it was established in 1996 and the regulations. Then Eleanor Lancaster made an attempt to explain what motivated her into action.

She said “one of the Standard reporters identified in an article in April in the newspaper that a number of municipal councillors who had received very generous donations from a local developer who claimed that it was a democratic thing to do - that tweaked my interest and just was the beginning to ask myself just how much democracy was this developer buying.” Eleanor's smug hypocrisy brought laughter from those who were present. Lancaster continued, “with very careful investigation of these expense forms, some of them very badly filled out, and that was mostly from the experienced councillors – to try and determine how related companies the monies that were paid into the candidates coffers, with very clear black and white evidence.”

The Standard article Eleanor Lancaster used as her 'tweaking' was titled, 'This is our way of participating in the democratic process' by Matthew Van Dongen. Examining the article it becomes difficult to understand Eleanor Lancaster's arrogant audacity to use Matthew Van Dongen's piece as evidence or proof of her motivation. Matthew's article was a one-sided piece of journalism yet he did have this to say, “For example, his companies (referring to developer Dan Raseta) gave $1500 to Mayor Brian McMullan...” I guess Eleanor Lancaster chose to not be 'tweaked' on this statement for whatever reason. In fact as Eleanor Lancaster had said “with very careful consideration of these expense forms...” and “with very clear black and white evidence,” she decided to intentionally leave out the biggest contravener of the whole bunch, both in the number of illegal contributions and total dollar value of illegal contributions. I guess it was not black and white enough for Eleanor Lancaster's interpretation of integrity in politics that Matthew Van Dongen even states the dollar amount, and that amount happens to be double the allowable maximum. Her “very careful investigation of these expense forms” would of shown that Mayor Brian McMullan had double the allowable maximum from Tom Rankin, Len Pennachetti and Angelo Nitsopolous. Still Eleanor Lancaster saw nothing wrong in that. As a self-appointed judge and jury Eleanor Lancaster intentionally left out Mayor Brian McMullan out of the audit request. Three thousand dollars in illegal contributions from four individuals, yet Eleanor Lancaster chose to single out only one developer for her cowardly slander in public.

Eleanor Lancaster said, “just how much democracy was this developer buying,” in return one could ask “how much democracy was the candidate selling at the time.” The article Eleanor refers to, (she even used as evidence in her application for the audit request), mentions other individuals who made multiple donations, still that was irrelevant to Lancaster. Eleanor Lancaster singled out developer Dan Raseta for the slanderous statement and left out Tom Rankin, Angelo Nitsopolous, Len Pennachetti and Norman Rockwell. Each of these individuals provided illegal contributions yet for whatever reason Lancaster saw no reason to include them.

The words Eleanor Lancaster used in her speech still reverberate as in an empty drum. She said, “very clear black and white evidence.” Nitsopolous, Pennachetti and Tom Rankin all provided double the allowable maximum to Mayor Brian McMullan. Tom Rankin in fact no stranger to illegal contributions had also provided double the illegal maximum to Mayor Brian McMullan in the 2006 Municipal Campaign. As Lancaster had said the Municipal Elections Act was instituted in 1996 and only strengthened in 2009. Mayor Brian McMullan had illegal contributions from Tom Rankin back in 2006, has Mayor Brian McMullan refunded that illegal contribution?

Has Tom Rankin requested a refund? Yet Eleanor Lancaster only decides to slander Dan Raseta. She in fact went further with another irrelevant comment saying “Tom Richardson who is the lawyer for this developer and for these four councillors.” What was Eleanor's implication here?

Mr. Dan Raseta did provide illegal contributions and he himself will not deny this. He sat down for an interview with the publisher of Mayorgate to answer some questions. In his words he simply wanted to clear the air and explain what he did and why. Dan Raseta said, “During the election on at least two occasions we enquired and were verbally advised by the City Clerk in regards to the treatment of donations from related companies. We relied on that advice when making those donations which we now know was mistaken or misunderstood by us.” Raseta further stated, “We did not knowingly make over contributions as suggested by Eleanor Lancaster and that is why I was confident at the time to publicly say, “It's not unfair because those are the rules.” I believed that statement to be true and had no problem telling a reporter who I knew would publish it.”

In his opening speech Jeff Loucks said, “it does not matter if this was a mistake these contributions were illegal.” He was correct in a fashion, they were illegal, yet Mr. Dan Raseta has not walked away from his responsibility nor his actions. In our interview he made it clear it was a mistake but that he was willing to accept all responsibility. Angelo Nitsopolous, Len Pennachetti and Tom Rankin were all given an opportunity to put their side of the story forward with more than one email request for an interview with Mayorgate, no one responded. What can anyone of them fear in answering why did they provide illegal contributions. Tom Rankin for instance had done so in two municipal election campaigns, in 2006 and 2010, both times to Mayor Brian McMullan.

A second email was sent to each, with no response or acknowledgement. 

Cowardly slanderous statements hidden behind the guise of a fundraiser garnishing snickering laughter from a small group seemed to bolster Eleanor Lancaster. Dan Raseta did provide illegal contributions, and he was not the only one. Under Lancaster's guidelines of selective justice one then may ask the others how much democracy were they buying. Eleanor Lancaster owes Dan Raseta a public apology in the least.

A supposed fight for the integrity in politics demands equality on all levels. Eleanor Lancaster has chosen only selective justice without a hint of integrity. The praises sung by Jeff Loucks, George Darte and Sean Foley remain empty when the facts are examined. Eleanor Lancaster must answer the question, why did she leave Mayor Brian McMullan out of the audit request, and if necessary under oath. Brian McMullan had more illegal contributions and the greatest dollar value in illegal contribution of all candidates. Mayor Brian McMullan with some 25 years political experience and with illegal contributions dating back to 2006 has no excuses. He signed his financial statements and no one else. Is he to say that he did not read what he signed? Is Mayor Brian McMullan to claim that he has no ability to manage his financial affairs as the Municipal Elections Act requires?

The Municipal Elections Act states very clearly what the penalties for intentional breaches of the Act are. It states: “Any person who contravenes the Act is liable to a fine of up to $25,000.00 and or up to six months imprisonment if the offence was committed knowingly. The fine for corporations and trade unions is increased to $50.000.00” Immediately below this warning the sub-heading is Candidates, and I quote, “All of the above individual penalties plus the forfeiture of office if the offence was committed knowingly.” Judge Harris I guess did not read the Municipal Elections Act.

This hunt for integrity in politics has taken another step into the murky waters of reality in politics. Eleanor Lancaster is still on the trail of her hypocritical attempts to exactly do what is anybody's guess. If you were to ask Loucks, Darte or Foley, and yes Andrew Gill then only gushing sticky sweet praise will come forward. On the other hand “very clear black and white evidence” points to the examination of fact and that leaves Eleanor Lancaster standing in a far different landscape.

Now Ontario Supreme Court of Justice, Judge Joseph Quinn is to bring forth his enlightened decision. Judge Quinn said that an audit was unlikely to “uncover more smoking guns.” That may be true, yet a proper and equal audit of all who contravened and accepted illegal contributions may produce some foul smelling bodies by now and not only the cliched “smoking guns.” Simply look at Mayor Brian McMullan's 2006 Financial Statement which he also signed. Judge Quinn asks, “What would the audit provide that we do not already know” (Doug Herod, The Standard, June 27 2012). If it is to remain within the parameters that Eleanor Lancaster had set out then the answer clearly is nothing at all. Yet if it is to be set within the parameters of legislation, fact and “very clear black and white evidence,” then maybe finally we can get a glimpse of true integrity in politics.

So where do we as a society go when the words of Jeff Loucks in his opening address of the Integrity in Politics Fundraiser said, “when all candidates follow the rules that is a true test of our democracy.” Within these parameters Eleanor Lancaster grossly failed us, her motivations are far from grandma's altruistic desire for equality. Our legislative process has failed by ignoring glaring evidence and fact. Our judiciary has failed by interpreting the laws to suit whatever motivation. Finally our 'Lord' Mayor Brian McMullan has failed us, he breached the legislation that is in place equally applicable to all candidates, he has done so in both the 2006 and 2010 Municipal Campaigns, and now appears to be free an clear of all consequence.

On July 7th 2012 Integrity in Politics took a ride down a very dangerous slippery path in St. Catharines. The ideals expressed on that summer's evening were no less grand than that of the believers of Eden yet the sad reality remains and questions hang in the air unanswered. Mayorgate would be willing to sit down with anyone willing to answer the hard questions. Eleanor Lancaster will not accept this invitation, the truth would be too embarrassing for her. Is anyone willing to explain how was it possible to take the claim on a title of 'Integrity in Politics' and relate that to what Eleanor Lancaster had done?

Finally, the duplicity of Eleanor Lancaster becomes more evident when one compares her comments as quoted by Marlene Bergsma of The Standard in the article 'Mayor looking into possible election campaign over payments' of July 7th 2011 and her own speech at the Integrity in Politics Fundraiser July 7th 2012. Marlene Bergsma said that “Lancaster denied the allegation, and said she only searched the records of those candidates who were running in contested seats.” Bergsma quotes Eleanor Lancaster as saying, “These were chosen because they were closely contested seats.”

Now fast forward to July 7th 2012 a year after this article with Bergsma. At her own fund raising event staged to aid in the expense of legal costs Eleanor Lancaster had this to say: “One of the Standard reporters identified in an article in April in the newspaper that a number of municipal councillors who had received very generous donations from a local developer who claimed that it was a democratic thing to do – that tweaked my interest ... with very clear black and white evidence.” That article titled 'This is our way of participating in the democratic process' by Matthew Van Dongen states in very clear black and white, “For example his companies gave $1500 to Mayor Brian McMullan...”

Which is the truth?, a question Eleanor Lancaster will not answer. 'Judge' Eleanor Lancaster decided to intentionally absolve the one who had contravened the legislation the most with “very clear black and white evidence” staring her in the face. In the end how do we trust Eleanor Lancaster and her motivations?

Interview with Dan Raseta, June 11th 2012

Mayorgate: Mr. Raseta did you know that an individual or business can give a maximum of $750 to any one candidate in Ontario, then would you need to give more than the allowable maximum to any candidate?

DR: Our understanding of the election rules was that an individual and or business could give up to $750.00 to a candidate and that each business would be treated as a separate individual. During the election on at least two occasions we enquired and were verbally advised by the City Clerk in regards to the treatment of donations from related companies. We relied on that advice when making those donations which we now know was mistaken or misunderstood by us. It would have been very easy to have contributed to those candidates in the same amounts had we donated from either of the two principals “as individuals” and/or the corporation separately which would have kept us in compliance with the rules. In the future we will consult with our own legal counsel before taking any action rather than relying on the advice of others.

Mayorgate: In an interview with Matthew Van Dongen of The Standard you are quoted as saying, “It's not unfair because those are the rules.” What did you mean by that? With that statement it appears you knew the rules of the Elections Act, could Van Dongen have taken your words out of context?

DR:  We did not knowingly make over contributions as suggested by Eleanor Lancaster and that is why I was confident at the time to publicly say “Its not unfair because those are the rules” I believed that statement to be true and I had no problem telling a reporter who I knew would publish it. I was always up front about those contributions, which were publicly disclosed.

When we received a copy of a Compliance Audit Notice requested by Eleanor Lancaster that alleged some of our corporations as having, based on the associations between each other, over contributed in the recent Municipal Election, we immediately took steps to have the notice reviewed by a municipal lawyer in order to establish whether the notice had any merit. To my dismay our legal council advised us that in their opinion there were over contributions and that we should take steps to correct them. We immediately wrote to affected candidates advising them of the error and requested repayments to bring all of our contributions in compliance with the Municipal Elections Act. All the over contributions were returned at that time.

Mayorgate: Eleanor Lancaster who requested the audit has said when she was a politician she experienced pressure from donors who expected her to vote according to their interests. Was that something you considered?

DR: We wanted to support candidates who we felt were going to do a good job of leading our community where we do business, pay taxes and where our families live, we make no apologies for that and that is why at the time I made the comment encouraging others to participate in democracy as well. I can’t comment on what experiences Eleanor Lancaster may have had in her career regarding donors. We would not be interested in having our community led by individuals who are easily pushed around, as Eleanor implies she was.

Mayorgate: You questioned Eleanor Lancaster's motivation behind the formal audit request, do you still feel the same way?

DR:  We believe that her motivation comes from her active participation in PROUD, which is a well known anti growth special interest group. PROUD and Eleanor Lancaster were actively involved in that election by working on campaigns like that of Carlos Garcia, and endorsing a list of candidates in a PROUD funded publication that was also used to criticize their opponents.

The candidates who PROUD supported generally lost, which might explain her motivation to litigate elections that her group could not win. This honest mistake on our part is now being used by PROUD and Eleanor Lancaster to embarrass its political opponents. Other elected officials who were not their political opponents had the same issue but clearly Eleanor Lancaster filed selectively against the people whom she and PROUD failed to beat in the election. This convenient targeting of her political opponents does not serve the public interest and clouds the whole issue.

Mayorgate: Judge David Harris in a written decision on February 9th 2012 said, “The Act states a contributor shall not give more than $750 to any one candidate. To do so would be a clear contravention of the Act. The obligation on the candidate is different however.” Do you think this is a fair interpretation of the responsibilities under the Act?

DR: I think it’s fair to not fault individual candidates if they unknowingly made errors, if a refund to correct the error was not permitted by the Act, candidates could be sabotaged by receiving contributions from corporations which were associated but not apparently so. Therefore I think it is a fair interpretation of the responsibilities under the Act.

Send comments: demtruth@gmail.com 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

LIAR, LIAR Pants on Fire...

Once again questions are raised regarding a Ministry of the Environment official report, and again convenient coincidence is expected to be accepted. As the actions by Dr. Jaeger face deeper questioning the huddle of protection becomes more encompassing.

A letter was sent to Minister Jim Bradley regarding what Dr. Jaeger claimed to have been told by ministry staff. Minister Bradley did not reply, instead he got another underling to do that once again. This time the response comes from Bill Bardswick, Director West Central Region and as with the response from Director Lisa Feldman once again raising more questions than providing answers.

Now it is the Ministry of Environment report dated March 3rd 2010 reference number ENV1180AC-2009-100-a under EBRO File Number #09EBR004.1. It would seem that the date of the testing is an error as reported. Dr. Jeager made claims in her correspondence that the MOE had informed her of samples taken in August 2009 though the official ministry report stated September and October 2009. Bill Bardswick now claims that it was an unfortunate error made in the report and that it should in fact state that samples were taken in August. Who believes in coincidence? Not many, can one imagine a woman claiming it was coincidence the frying pan was in her hands at the time her husband came home with the lipstick stain and tried to lie his way out? Director Bardswick claiming an unfortunate error, does it smell of the frying pan coincidence, sure as hell does.

On October 19th 2009 the MOE sent a communication under reference ENV1180AC-2009-100 for the EBRO File Number #09EBR004.1 and that states that the MOE had received the EBR investigation application on August 20th 2009. This was received in the Toronto offices of the MOE and Ass. Dep. Min. had to decide whether an actual investigation would be conducted. The official report dated March 3rd 2010 after the completion of the investigation also states the same fact. Maybe Director Bardswick could claim that was an unfortunate error in dates as well.

So now that's one point 'explained' away to suit the need. Now to the next. It appears that a creek which would have to be below ground, well below ground as the illegal dumping by Sam Demita was at 25 foot depth at the shallow end, anyhow this creek with its flow left the orange staining on the surface, 25 feet or more up on the surface. Director Bardswick states, “iron precipitate would occur as an orange material on the soils when the ditch is relatively dry.” Someone should tell Director Bardswick to read Mayorgate, there was no ditch back in 2009. One must read Director Bill Bardswick's exact words to understand what he has said. It is presumed that in the position of Director West Central Region, Bill Bardswick does have a command of the English language and in fact says what he means.

These are Director Bill Bardswick's own words: “Given the intermittent flow in the creek, iron precipitate would occur as an orange material on the soils when the ditch is relatively dry. These observations were made by ministry staff along the railway track near the location of the fill material on August 24, 2009.” Is one to take this as Bardswick's words to say that “ministry staff” observed this in the ditch “near the location of the fill” back in August? How else can this be interpreted? Can this be convenient coincidence or something else less pleasant? The ditch did not exist in 2009 that is a proven undeniable fact, no convenient coincidence here, just simple fact. So how or what did the ministry staff observe in August 2009? Still visual proof is more...um, visual, and let's examine some of that now.

Director Bill Bardswick claimed in his letter that samples were taken on August 24th and that rather conveniently now it was an error made in the MOE report. He also said that MOE made observations of the ditch and the orange material on August 24th 2009? Those are Director Bill Bardswick's words which he answered on behalf of the Minister? This is what he said, ”The Minister has asked that I respond directly to your concerns,” Look at these photos taken with a date stamp on August 24th 2009! By the way did the MOE staff hide from the camera if they were there taking samples? Let's go back to the visual facts, no ditch existed at this time for the MOE staff to observe in any condition, dry or wet. Can Director Bardswick see any orange material, even cans of orange pop anywhere? I can understand that right this moment he must be fighting with a hell of a lump in his throat. He tried to change details of a report two years after his ministry presented it to suit whatever need now and to be hit with photos of the very date he needed to use for convenience, it must be hard to deal with. Truth is often difficult for those who think they can play with it as they please.

More to come for Bill Bardswick Director of West Central Region, on April 4th 2009 I in fact walked the tracks (no not like Johnny Cash) nearly the full line with Matthew Williamson Compliance and Enforcement Officer for the Niagara Escarpment Commission. No ditch!, no orange material! Matthew Williamson did confirm in writing that the dumping by Sam Demita was done without any permit and therefore illegal, but hey that's not anything you care about.

Still more for Director Bardswick, July 21st 2009 the massive illegal dumping into a natural ravine by Sam Demita of Sun Collision was such a pretty sight, but no orange material. Look at photos dated September 9th 2009, I think that Director Bardswick has got it by now, still no ditch and still no orange, anywhere to be seen. Fast forward to January 24th 2010, five months after the little date he pulled out of the convenient hat and still no ditch and no orange water anywhere to be seen. Director Bardswick stated in his letter, “Therefore the information the ministry provided to Dr. Jaeger was accurate,” how can this be possible? What were the motivating factors behind Director Bardswick's attempts at changing details of an official report presented to the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario two years ago?

Ministry of the Environment presented an official report under the EBR at the completion of an investigation as an official document. This report was also provided to the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario who compiled it into his Annual Report and presented that to the Legislative Assembly. Two years later Bill Bardswick decides to change details of that report? What he now has added has been proven to be false and simply for convenience and what does that make his letter of June 21st 2012, the letter that he wrote on behalf and upon the minister's request? The whole investigation undertaken by MOE in 2009 is questionable including the final report. As a Director of the MOE he had decided to play with the Environmental Bill of Rights and the truth, and the question is why?

September 7th 2009 the railway tracks are here, still no ditch visible anywhere and no orange material in sight! 

Minister Jim Bradley who in his arrogance has refused to speak to the people of his own riding has now used two MOE directors to cast even more doubt on the EBR process and his ministry. In sheer cowardice Minister Jim Bradley has not answered anything himself, even after his boss – Premier Dalton McGuinty said he would do so directly. Yet in legal terms Minister Jim Bradley is fully responsible for every word. Director Bill Bardswick said in his letter, “The minister has asked that I respond directly to your concerns.” Director Lisa Feldman said in her letter to me, “I have been asked to respond directly to you about this matter.”

January 2010, railway tracks are still there and no ditch, plenty of water but alas Director Bill Bardswick no orange in sight, not even an empty KOOL-AID container. 

Director Feldman has brought doubt on the MOE report of February 16th 2011, and now Director Bardswick has brought massive doubt on the MOE report of March 3rd 2010. Is it possible that the MOE is using deceit to suit a particular need at the time? The facts provided in response cannot allow logic pass such an unpleasant question. And if both the MOE Directors are answering on behalf of the minister and upon Minister Bradley's request than what is Minister Bradley's motivation here?

Here we are July 2010 and wow, Director Bill Bardswick can see now the ditch has arrived. But alas, no orange water or any other orange material, the catch basin grate has no orange stains, and the famous railway tracks that he mentioned in his letter are still there.  

Ministry of the Environment found Sun Collision in contravention of the EPA Ontario Reg #347 as a result of the 2009 investigation. No action was taken because of Sun Collision's previous record and only clean up orders issued. Many questions remained at the time which now come back to life, one being the depth of the test pits. The ravine that was illegally filled was at 25 feet depth and deeper in some areas, yet the test pits were dug to only 10 feet. Director Bardswick's actions now only cast more doubts to an already questionable situation.

Although the questions remain unanswered. It is more difficult to find understanding why would Director Bill Bardswick attempt to change the details of a report submitted two years ago. Dr. Valerie Jaeger made claims in her correspondence and stated the information came from the MOE. The official MOE report dated March 3rd 2010 contradicted the statements made by Dr. Jaeger in fact the report made those statements appear to be lies. As this information was forwarded to Minister of Environment Jim Bradley a communication in letter form comes from Director Bill Bardswick. Director Bardswick says “The minister has asked I respond....” Director Bardswick then attempts to change, to alter the report which proved Dr. Jaeger had lied. Yet the attempted changes are clearly suspect and border on lies themselves.
It is time to ask Minister Jim Bradley why has he done this. Minister Bradley refused to answer himself and had his directors speak on his behalf and what they have said is alarming. Dr. Jaeger lied in her communications and whatever Director Bill Bardswick attempted to do has failed. Bardswick stopped short of repeating Dr. Jaeger's lies in relation to complaints of orange precipitate dating back to 2009 in the ditch. Statements relating to August 24th 2009 by Director Bardswick are bewildering and photos provided, that were taken on that very day, cast doubt on what Director Bardswick attempted to claim.

Now is the time for serious questions to be asked of Minister Jim Bradley. Both directors who answered on behalf of the minister are only public servants who do as they are told, only it is sad that it is our public money that pays their healthy salaries. The full responsibility rests in the hands of Minister Jim Bradley and it is he who in the end must be questioned. Regional Chairman Gary Burroughs has taken no action in relation to Dr. Valerie Jaeger's lies, and the only intervention has been Minister Jim Bradley's MOE and Director Bill Bardswick's attempts to alter the details of an official report from 2010. Can it be that Minister Jim Bradley does intervene on behalf of his constituents, but only the well connected and select few?

A response has still not arrived from Ass. Dep. Min. Kevin French to clarify Director Feldman's statements in relation to the damaged vehicles. So an open invitation is offered to Minister Jim Bradley to answer these questions and more on Mayorgate, though I don't think that will be accepted any time soon.

Send comments to: demtruth@gmail.com 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Tiara of Pride

The Canada Day long weekend and a time to relax. To most Canadians national pride is somewhat corny, true we see the occasional flag waving in the breeze, yet how can we celebrate a country? It's not like your child's birthday or an anniversary – this 'thing' that is called national pride is less tangible. Though how many of us would rather live in another place other than Canada, and why not.

I was in my bank a couple of days ago and a staff member was asking all those waiting and the other staff who knew how old Canada was. No one got it right who took a stab at an answer. True in our history we have not had to struggle or sacrifice much to become a nation. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms was not a document that was born out of a call to arms, rather its conception was the conference table.

As Canadians we have joined the world in battle to ensure humanity's rights and freedoms, and we have volunteered our brave men and women in uniform to provide peace and equality in foreign lands. We have not shirked our responsibilities on the world stage even if at times we have at home. Yet how do we celebrate Canada? Is it a BBQ and a beer, or some fireworks? Maybe the best way to answer that is to repeat the question, how many would rather live elsewhere? Your individual answers are the celebration of this country and what it is worth to each and every one of us. Simple, less corny and no mathematics needed.

Mayorgate and our artist Alexandra Davidoff decided that a young face wearing a tiara with pride was our way to celebrate. You choose your own, Canada really is worth celebrating.

Send comments to: demtruth@gmail.com