april 2021

Bay of Quinte Greens, Newsletter
April 2021

Welcome once again to the online newsletter.   Below you’ll find Lori Borthwick’s (our President) good advice, Don Wilford’s (our CFO) reminder of our new website, a note from Leadnow concerning the use of First Nations’ lands in Ontario, a book review by Jim Colby and a note on the development of PEC environmentally sensitive lands for commercial ventures, a thoughtful comment on development again by Don and other things.  We hope this is helpful but we would love to hear from our readers wherever you may be.
Contact jamesdolancolby@gmail.com.

A Note from the President: The Gift of Time
By Lori Borthwick, President of the Bay of Quinte Provincial Greens

I have been seeing a lot of posts on social media where people are saying that they consider this time of the pandemic to have been a wasted year. They often suggest that their lives are on hold and they are just marking time until the fury of this pandemic subsides and they pick up their lives as they did before any of us ever heard of COVID 19.

I understand that this pandemic and the changes it has brought to our lives in terms of lockdowns, social isolation and myriad other changes are not something any of us would have chosen to happen. However the time we are given to live on this earth is precious, it is short, and yes, even during the pandemic it can be magical. How sad to wish this time away.

As humans we are extremely adaptable and I have used this time to cultivate an appreciation of my own company. I have discovered that I can enjoy solitude. I enjoy each minute spent watching the sun rise, or the various birds at the feeder. The excitement of watching the early spring ephemerals on my walks gives me reason to look forward to the day.

Time has slowed, days run together and I can fill each day with what is important to me. In some ways I feel like a child again, the excitement of seeing what each new day will bring rises within me. I wake early eager to experience the beauty of the day.

This pandemic has given me the time to reflect on my life, a chance to experience and enjoy the unwinding of each day. This time of enforced isolation has been a gift, and perhaps we can all come out the other side of this time with a new appreciation of the beauty that surrounds us each day that we may have been too busy to drink in, in our pre-pandemic lives.

Quinte Greens Speaker Series:  
by Don Wilford

We have had a lot of interest in the recordings of our events – they’re all now on our new website – https://bayofquintegpo.ca/events/

Our remaining events before our summer recess will be on “Economics” followed by “Food Security” (June 9th) and “The Three Mayors” (June 29th) – the mayors of Belleville, PEC, and Quinte West have agreed to talk about the needs of municipalities with GPO’s Mike Schreiner as host.

You can register for any or all of the events on our website
And, of course, if you’re willing to help, you can donate to the Greens too.

Provincial Note:  Grassy Narrows from Kate Hodgson of Leadnow Grassy Narrows Band: 

hen I was a student I had a wonderful teacher—Bob Rogers— who, as a young man, was a tour guide in the Grassy Narrows Band lands in northern Manitoba and Ontario.  He was befriended by an older man—Andy Keewatin, Chief of the Grassy Narrows people.  Bob told stories about Andy’s kindness and wisdom.  Later as a film maker Bob did an NFB documentary on Minamata disease amongst the Grassy Narrows Band caused by the effluence from the upstream Dryden Pulp and Paper plant.  He actually flew Andy to Japan to meet the Japanese folks afflicted also with mercury poisoning from commercially poisoned waters.  I thought of Bob who is gone now when I got this note from Kate Hodgson at Leadnow.  I pass it on FYI.  If any are interested in the history of the struggles of the Grassy Narrows Band you can read about them in this article by Bob Rogers.

From Leadnow:

Dear James D,

I’m writing to you about an urgent petition from Free Grassy, who is calling on Ontario Minister of Energy and Mines Greg Rickford to hit the brakes on a dangerous mining project in Grassy Narrows’ Territory. Will you sign the petition – https://you.leadnow.ca/petitions/withdraw-all-grassy-territory-from-mining-and-mineral-exploration-now

Here’s a brief explanation of the campaign:

Trillium Gold Mines Inc. is applying to drill for gold in Grassy Narrows Territory against Grassy Narrows’ will.

This could lead to a dangerous gold mine that would compound the harm that mercury, clearcut logging, hydro dams and residential schools have already done to Grassy Narrows’ lives, lands, and way of life.

This violation of Grassy Narrows’ Land Declaration is an important threat to Grassy Narrows’ self-determination, rights and culture.

Minister Rickford is a well-known champion of the mining industry [1], and he is counting on being able to rubber stamp Trillium Gold Mines without causing a stir. But if thousands speak out in opposition to Trillium Gold, Minister Rickford will know he can’t approve their permit and survive the backlash.

James D, will you sign the petition calling on Minister Rickford to deny Trillium Gold’s drilling permit and withdraw Grassy Narrows Territory from mining activity?

Here’s some more information about the campaign calling on Minister Rickford to withdraw all Grassy Territory from mining and mineral exploration now.

In 2018, Grassy Narrows enacted a Land Declaration, enshrining into their law a ban on all mineral staking, exploration and mining in their territory. Yet the staking of claims in Grassy Narrows Territory has grown exponentially — from a few hundred to over four thousand in June 2018.

Trillium Gold Mines Inc is proposing to drill over 100 holes in Grassy Narrows’ protected area, despite having been informed by Grassy Narrows that this is in direct conflict with Grassy Narrows’ law.

Grassy Narrows’ Territory, already violated by mercury, clearcut logging and hydro dams is key to Grassy Narrows’ way of life. Approving this permit will embolden other mining companies and could lead to a dangerous mine that would compound the harm already done to Grassy Narrows people.

The Grassy Narrows First Nation and their allies have fought for years to build awareness about the issues facing their territory. The Leadnow community amplified Free Grassy’s calls for the government to build a home for community members suffering from mercury poisoning — and, together, we won. [2]

With hope,
Kate, on behalf of the Leadnow team

[1] https://www.gregrickfordmpp.ca/ontario_brings_mineral_and_mining_sector_back_to_the_forefront
[2] https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2020/04/03/grassy-narrows-signs-deal-with-ottawa-to-build-mercury-care-home.html

Leadnow doesn’t take handouts from corporations or political parties. Everything we achieve together is only possible because of ordinary people like you chipping in what they can. Please will you consider donating a few bucks a week to Leadnow? Click here to set up a secure donation: http://www.leadnow.ca/donate

PEC News: Quinte Isle Campark Proposal 
by Jim Colby

After more than 5 years of wrangling the Council voted unanimously to approve the revised expansion plan for this trailer park from 619 sites to 956.  These are seasonal sites and are not occupied from December to April. Nevertheless, as many presenters pointed out the area to be rezoned to commercial is adjacent to environmental significant lands.   At a zoom meeting attended by Council plus 100 virtual viewers 26 people spoke against the Proposed enlargement.  The PEC Municipal Planner, Matthew Coffrey and his staff had already recommended approval based on their examination of the proposal and changes included in the final version.  Mayor Steve Ferguson noted that Council “had an obligation to make Prince Edward County available to others”

One commenter later wrote in response to the Mayor’s observation:  “Can someone please explain the so-called “obligation” we have to make the County available to others? Especially after the disaster we witnessed last summer? What about stewardship and obligation to the environment, the wildlife, and to our tax-paying residents, all of which suffer from devastating decisions like this one?”  (cf countylive)

Good question, yet the Council’s approval was unanimous and there are certainly council members who in the past have vigorously defended the environmentally vulnerable areas in the County.   What gives eh?   

Well this proposed expansion comes from an already established business which has been accommodating in revising initial plans to better fit the Municipal plan and the concerns of some opponents.  Council must also be aware that should his proposal be denied at the municipal  level the owner can take his appeal to the Provincial Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) and their ruling will decide the issue.  Given the recommendation of Matthew Coffrey and his staff it seems very likely the expansion would be approved at that level.  There is, for PEC, some expense involved in such a defence.  They are aware also that the unanimous rejection of the Picton Terminal Proposal is on it’s way to LPAT.  They (the Councillors) also must consider the upcoming Irth Spa question which will also involve a proposed development in one of the natural core areas set aside from commercial development.  As they say, it’s complicated.

Interested readers can find a full and excellent account of the PEC Council proceedings by Sharon Harrison on the Countylive website

Development in the County:
by Don Wilford

My mind went to “The Words That Come Before All Else” – words from another planet (well, another culture), words of Thanksgiving from our indigenous peoples as told in Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book, “Braiding Sweetgrass” that we read in our Bay of Quinte Greens’ Media Klub. When you read it you experience a profound sense of loss. The words are from a hunter-gatherer culture. If you rely on nature then you must give careful and complete thanks to nature. To our way of thinking it seems to take so long. “What’s your problem”, Kimmerer says, “don’t you have time to give thanks?”

But our culture was an agricultural culture – and more recently a colonial-consumer one. Our ancestors were told they had dominion to exploit our world. And they did. When I heard an indigenous leader speak at GPO’s Annual Meeting, in 2019, he said that we talk endlessly but nothing changes. For centuries, all that has mattered is our desire to own indigenous land and to have “sovereignty”.

As someone brought up in England, I reflect on my own history lessons – Henry VIII’s break with the Church gave him a lot of land that he sold to prosperous merchants. And it was followed, a century later, with enclosures of common land. Words like “tragedy of the commons” and our need to make land “productive” became part of who we are – part of our culture.

And so it comes to pass that I Zoom into a Council meeting and see the ancient play, yet again, on stage – on the one hand, “owners” of land intent to use it “productively” – on the other, citizens who care but who don’t own. In fact, it is a triumph of hope that we have created “Planning Rules” at all. They are a prayer – a prayer that we might, just might, do the “right” thing, when the time comes.

If you care about Planning there are two documents you must read. One is the your municipality’s “Official Plan”. In the case of the County, it says we want to have a vibrant tourist industry because it brings jobs and prosperity. And at the same time we must protect our places of natural beauty. The second is the Provincial Policy Statement. It’s about growth and jobs but also about protecting the “long-term ecological function and biodiversity of our natural heritage”.

They are two different – but the same – expressions of opposing values that are forever in tension but with the body of law squarely in favour of rights of ownership. The way this game is now played is by hiring consultants. Developers’ consultants write reports that tell us how a development is in the “public interest” and the municipality hires consultants to write “peer review” reports on the reports. And Municipal Staff write their own report based on the other reports. And finally, the public has its say but by this time it’s taken five years and while it’s not germane that it’s taken so long, well, you have to be reasonable.

On April 14th, this played out before Council for the Quinte Isle Campark development in Athol. It took five hours. 26 members of the public voiced their opposition. The Councillor for Athol asked no questions relating to his constituents concerns but asked Planning Staff if, “you are confident we have a good application”. And to be fair, the answer was that the application was consistent with the Official Plan and Provincial Policy Statement and so, yes, it was a good application. It was then unanimously passed by Council. The upshot is that an existing trailer park with 619 sites will be expanded to over 950 – more tourists, more restaurant meals, more winery sales, more taxes – and more traffic, more wear and tear on our roads, and more inconvenience to nearby residents.

The next one up is the “Irth Landscape Hotel and Spa”, on May 19th – more high-end tourism by rezoning part of a “Natural Core Area” as “Tourist Commercial”. It’s a shame but it’s the same dynamic that made Niagara Falls what it is – not a natural wonder that grasped people’s imaginations but a tourist trap replete with made-in-China souvenirs.

And what of me, as a Green? Well, I support local business and local enterprise with stronger local supply chains and more resilient communities. At the same time, it seems to me we’re at an inflexion point in terms of our place in the world. Our presence is overwhelming the planet and growth can’t continue. Our cultural values no longer serve, including, frankly, our Planning rules.

Geoff West, a scientist I admire, has a TED talk entitled, “The Surprising Math of Cities and Corporations”. It’s worth watching. He demonstrates a fundamental law of life – natural things grow when they must – to survive – but they also know when to stop. A tree that continues to grow will fall over. Human constructions like corporations follow the same rule. But our human imaginations and ambitions are limitless. Today, we need to change that, globally, perhaps at the United Nations. But we can also try to make a start here, at Shire Hall.

Doug Ford News:
by: Darren Elias, Press Secretary Green Party of Ontario
The Ford Government thinks that, ‘Prioritizing renewable generation is no longer appropriate”
I’m sorry, what?

Clean energy isn’t just the future, it’s the present. It’s cheaper, more feasible and more accessible than ever before. But instead, Ford is taking us backwards by embracing high cost, dirty sources of electricity including ramping up gas power plants — a move that will increase climate pollution by 300%.  He’s playing politics in the face of sound economics and science. It’s illogical, short-sighted and senseless.

This is your opportunity to make renewable energy a priority for Ontario. Give Doug Ford A Science Lesson. Even in the middle of a pandemic, Ford still has time to push his anti-science, climate-denying agenda.

It is simply wrong that we have a government so opposed to renewable energy, especially now that the price is so low.  Now is the time to build back smarter with a Green recovery focusing on good, clean jobs and low-cost renewable energy. It’s smart for the health of people, the economy, and the planet.

Tell Doug Ford to reverse course on this backward proposal.

Darren Elias
Press Secretary
Green Party of Ontario

Book Review:
by Jim Colby
Why we elect Narcissists and Sociopaths and How we can Stop
, Bill Eddy

Bill Eddy is a lawyer, a conflict resolution social worker and an academic from California.  The dedication of this book reads:  “To young voters everywhere:  May you avoid the mistakes of your elders.”

I was told that when Northrop Frye accepted the job of Principal of Victoria College in the University of Toronto in the middle of a busy academic career someone asked him why, given his passion for teaching and writing, he would take on such a dull administrative burden.  He responded:  “If I don’t do it, someone who wants the job will.”  I love the idea that some public work is done not out of desire but duty.  Eddy’s book is about the person who longs for authority for self-aggrandizement only.   He writes:

I learned about personality disorders, including narcissists and sociopaths in 1980 while training to be a child and family counsellor. . . . Understanding these disorders helped me to deal with the most difficult clients I had, as well as a few people in my personal life.  These people could seem reasonable and even charming on the surface, but they repeatedly got into conflicts with those around them . . . After a dozen years as a therapist . . . I became a lawyer in 1992.  I quickly realized that personality disorders were driving a lot of legal disputes too . . . Clients with such disorders had disputes that wouldn’t settle” (vi)

Eddy uses the term “high-conflict personalities” for such individuals.   I cringed when I first saw the title of his book.  I almost wanted to avoid it.  Trump was in the White House and I was discouraged by the process of media driven elections in which contempt and accusation seemed to dominate discussions which ought to be at least rationale and respectful.  So I got the book.  I am so glad I did.  Here is the map which Eddy’s book follows:

Part I first covers the patterns of high-conflict politicians, how their narcissistic and sociopahic traits can be extremely dangerous and extremely deceptive, and how you can spot them early on (Chapter 1).  Next I describe HCP’s emotional warfare: how they seduce and divide and dominate whole communities and nations (Chapter 2).  This is made possible because voters tend to split into four groups that fight with each other endlessly in response to this emotional warfare:  Loving Loyalists, Riled-Up Resisters, Mild Moderates and Disenchanted Dropouts (Chapter 3).

He then considers how the media attracts high-conflict politicians “from the fringes of society and launches them into leadership positions around the world.” (p. xiii)

His book contains very clear and practical examples of the behaviors which he describes.  He draws his examples from history (Hitler for one).   Reading through it I thought again and again, yeah this is true and obvious; why didn’t I see it more clearly.  Later in the book he summarizes the dilemma:

Donald Trump has been a good example of an HCP using Fantasy Crisis Triads to divide voters and win.  This appears to be because today’s high-emotion media, in all its forms, emphasizes faces, voices, and emotional messages.  This ultimately favours high-conflict politicians (and all high-conflict personalities) who have far less self-restraint and ability to solve problems in the gray areas of real life.  (p. 116)

Finally he offers “10 common Mistakes with High-Conflict Politicians.” (p. 117). His advice is finally traditional wisdom.  Let me cite the first three ‘mistakes’ which he carefully explains:

Mistake 1:  Missing the Warning Signs.

Mistake 2:  Believing in Fantasy Crises.

Mistake 3:  Believing in Fantasy Villians.  (p.  119)

I encourage you to read this clear and, finally, encouraging book.  Reading it reminded me of another book but older which was similarly illuminating for me.  It was written by an  American who repeatedly expressed his appreciation for two great Canadians who had influenced him–Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye.  The book is Neil Postman’s examination of the media influence on public discourse–Amusing Ourselves to Death–Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (Penguin, New York, 1985).

Check them both out!

The Importance of Donating and Volunteering

Don Wilford: Being together, this year, will be difficult for all and impossible for many. Thomas Homer-Dixon – Canada’s renowned political and climate scientist talks about Covid-19 in his new book, “Commanding Hope”. “I was thinking about the pandemic as a really vivid example of how things can change extraordinarily quickly”. He tells the story of how the crude climate models of 20 years ago got it basically right – predictions of climate heating, fires, droughts, and floods. And what more sophisticated models tell us about the next 20 years – how impacts will accelerate and affect more and more people. He dedicates his book to children, “It’s the best I can do to explain what I think you need to hold on to in your future.”

The Green Party is the only party that is unequivocally committed to a green future for our children and a new way of doing politics. You can listen to our leader, Mike Schreiner, describe our 5-point, post-Covid, “Green and Caring Recovery Plan”.

Ontario’s next election is in June 2022 – just 20 months away. If you agree that Green voices are essential in our next Provincial assembly, please consider donating to us – the Bay of Quinte Greens – we need money to put up signs, organize, and mount a competitive Bay of Quinte campaign.

Canada’s tax system provides generous reimbursements – total donations up to $423 receive a 75% tax refund, up to $1,410 a 50% refund, and up to $1,625 a 33.33% refund.

Please think of us at Thanksgiving, talk about what it means to you and your family, and consider donating to the Bay of Quinte Greens.

Donate here.

Free Cartoon:
by Jim Colby

Editor’s comment:  You made it to the bottom of the newsletter again!  Well done.  We would love to hear from you.  We need donations, members and volunteers.  Remember what Tarfon said:  “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. … You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”  We can help.

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