This Blog will discuss politics, government, corruption, police, S.I.U., courts, education, min. of attorney general, min. of labour, v.o.i.c.e. and other current and past events of interest to concerned citizens. In the "About me" section to the right and down I have included the names of persons whom I have tremendous respect for. Their influence on me however has been primarily environmental (and personal) and this is therefore a disclaimer that all words posted on this Blog/Website are mine and I alone am responsible for them. I say this with the greatest respect and affection to my friends.
Friday, October 28, 2016
The Provincial Ombudsman's Office under Paul Marin made an excellent reputation for themselves over many years. Mr. Marin's contract was not renewed earlier this year and he was replaced by Paul Dube. I would suggest the jury are still out regarding his performance and that of the Ombudsman's office since his promotion to top spot. Meanwhile Mr. Dube has made a submission to Ontario's police oversight review which has a mandate to recommend ways to enhance police transparency and accountability. That seems just a tad too progressive for Ontario. After all a lack of police transparency and accountability has been the norm forever here in Ontario.
Mr. Dube would like his office to have oversight over the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) as they currently do, as well as over the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) both of which they do not. My only experience with the OIPRD is in regards to police conduct regarding my attempting to provide them with evidence regarding a local politician here in Woolwich Township. They basically couldn't be bothered and the OIPRD when contacted essentially had their "decision" on my desk within hours not even days or weeks. I was not impressed.
Yes real police oversight is needed in Ontario. Whether Mr. Dube and the Ombudsman's office are the right ones to do it I don't know.
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Hoo boy I'm not buying for one second what I read in the Waterloo Region Record's article today. The story is titled "OMB upholds municipal ban on private water well in Cambridge". Allegedly a Condominium Board had drilled a well on their property to supply water for landscaping purposes on their property. Well the City and the Region both objected and it went to the Ontario Municipal Board who ruled against the Condo Board. They rather correctly couldn't understand why they should pay for expensive, treated to drinking water standards, water when all they wanted was to water grass, trees and shrubs etc.. Not so fast said the two levels of governmnet.
First off the Condo is located on George St. abutting the Grand River. Secondly the regional government claims that the Condo Board's well could "disrupt" contamination already there in the ground. Disrupting contamination is sheer nonsense and gibberish. The claim that it could send soil contamination deeper into the municipal drinking water aquifer is however a little different. I suppose that some contaminated soil might possibly get introduced through the well's borehole into a deeper aquifer although precautions are supposed to be taken to isolate one aquifer from another and avoid breaching somewhat less permeable layers between them.
Keep in mind that a new well isn't likely to contaminate anything. Possibly if the well driller takes short cuts there could be a chance of cross contamination from a shallower aquifer into a deeper one. Remote but possible. It seems to me what is probably going on here is that the Region and City have knowledge of significant pre-existing soil contamination that they don't wish to share with the public. That would be a more likely explanation for what is going on. This could be a non-issue if local governments cleaned up contamination as they find it or if they had stopped major industrial, urban polluters decades ago.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
I have recently been commenting on the Elmira Advocate regarding how the Ontario Ministry of Environment are (mis) directing the investigation of the Canagagigue Creek in Elmira, Ontario. The test results for sediments as well as floodplain soils in and around the creek taken in 2012, 2013 and 2014 have been incredibly damaging to Chemtura/M.O.E. credibility. DDT and Dioxins/Furans have been above Canadian Sediment and Agricultural Soil guidelines and various Effect levels repeatedly. Hence the M.O.E. want to change the channel and do a Human Health Risk Assessment.
The big out for the M.O.E. is that they can interview downstream farmers and residents and claim that despite the toxins present in and around the creek, allegedly there is very little exposure routes for human beings. In one sense this could be correct in that there have already been enough human beings damaged by the creek over the last sixty to seventy years that longtime locals probably have learned to avoid the creek at all costs and to especially keep their children out of it. How this plays out with the Martin swimming pond, downstream of the Stroh Drain and directly connected to the pond I do not know. It is inconceivable to me that there have not been human health effects via this route but whether they can be documented or more likely ignored by a risk assessment expert is anyone's guess. When the most likely explanation for going this route in the first place is to minimize cleanup costs it really is difficult to believe that it will be an honest process.
While the focus of the 2012-2014 investigation was Dioxins/Furans and DDT, the reality is that there is so much more going untested. This includes PCBs, Persistent Organic Pollutants and PAHs (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons). Each one of these is toxic to both human beings and to aquatic life in and around the creek.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Well now it looks as if criticism of trade deals are coming to light. After all just because governments are negotiating these deals certainly doesn't mean they are in the public interest. Far from it. CETA or the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement is supposed to increase trade between Canada and the European Union. Like most deals however the devil is in the details. A small region in Belgium is currently holding up the deal by refusing to ratify it. The region is known as Wallonia and one of their concerns has to do with investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms. Basically this provision allows companies (investors) to sue governments for things like rigorous environmental standards or even employment standards legislation.
The title of the article in today's Waterloo Region Record is "Toronto lawyer challenges EU deal". The lawyer is very well known Rocco Galati as he has successfully brought governments to court on other matters over the years. Besides the suing of governments by investor companies another issue for Mr. Galati is the Canadian government's habit of signing and ratifying trade deals prior to approval from either Parliament or the provinces. Mr. Galati states that other governments such as the U.S. and European countries do not behave in that fashion. All in all it's good to see further public exposure of the bad side of these deals. Kudos to Mr. Galati and to the Walloons.
Monday, October 24, 2016
You really have to wonder at the idiots in charge at the RCMP. Did none of them have the common sense that God gives a toad or a frog to try and avoid trouble? Did no one figure out that disgusting, harassing behaviour and worse towards female recruits wasn't going to eventually backfire and besmirch the entire RCMP? The answer apparently is no. It was easier and quicker for years to minimize complaints and pretend that it was "just boys being boys". Nothing to worry about.
Today's Waterloo Region Record carrys the following Editorial by them titled "RCMP still has work to do". Funny how I'm not remotely surprised by any of this. Having worked for the public works department of the City of Waterloo a couple of decades plus ago I saw egotistical and at the same time fragile male egos rejecting women in their workplace. Afterall these dinosaurs felt that they were rough and tough construction workers and it affronted them that women could either handle equipment as well as them or heaven forbid actually do physical labour every bit as well. Imagine police forces & the RCMP having to accept that you don't have to be six feet tall and 200 pounds plus either to shoot guns or to think your way through most difficulties. Way too much for the old boys network to handle.
Friday, October 21, 2016
Too many times our only remaining newspaper here in Elmira, Ontario have told me that there is no public interest in Chemtura matters especially pollution related. Really? That seems odd when the much larger newspaper many miles south of here has the following front page headline today namely "Chemtura starts off-site chemical probe". Similarily I have reason to believe that the local television station in Kitchener are planning to do a story as well. No interest my butkus.
This Waterloo Region Record story is all about delay and reluctance of the authorities to do their jobs. It is all about polluting companies and their so called regulators agreeing to ignore inconvenient truths. Rather than tackle these corporations head on they would rather stickhandle, negotiate and overall avoid serious confrontation. That may work with reasonable people but it does not work with essentially unaccountable multibillion dollar corporations whose only concerns are their shareholders.
This off-site investigation has been two years in the works so far. The intentional delays past and present are inconscionable. When will Chemtura or their newest owners simply say enough and abandon this site. When it happens you can thank the local politicians and the provincial ones for enabling the company and its`consultants to avoid proper cleanup for so very long.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Today's Waterloo Region Record carries the following Opinion piece by Luisa D'Amato titled "Trustee code of conduct denies free speech, wouldn't survive Charter challenge". Luisa clarifys several items including the Code of Conduct itself. She calls it a weak, authoritarian document which is exactly what it is. It is simply designed by what passes for brains at the WRDSB as a way to inhibit both criticism and truth itself. It is what self-serving groups of people do who know full well they aren't making decisions in the best interests of those they are governing or setting rules for.
Michael Ramsay was advocating on behalf of students when he was interviewed by 570 News radio. He did not gild the lily and told it plain and unvarnished. That is exactly what senior staff, administrators and their minions on the Board do not want. Mr. Ramsay later referred to the process around the Trustees' table as a kangaroo court. Always has been, likely always will be.
Luisa D'Amato sums it up nicely at the end of her article. She states "There is something distinctly thin-skinned and undemocratic about this emphasis on positive spin over truthfulness in our local, publicly funded schools. We have so many real challenges in education in this part of the province. I'm not proud that, at this time, cheerleading is valued more than scrutiny.".
As plain spoken as Luisa is I actually accuse her of being a tad diplomatic in her last paragraphs above. She states "at this time". Ha! Cheerleading is exactly what the Board, Administration, Teachers and their unions have been insisting on for decades. Afterall it's all about them with students and parents not even rating in the top half dozen priorities. That is the truth that the self-serving bureaucrats and powers that be want to keep hidden forever.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Today's Waterloo Region Record advises us that indeed the Trustees went ahead and censured Trustee Mike Ramsay 1) for breaking an asinine rule and 2) for telling the truth. The story is titled "School trustee censured for comments". The asinine rule is the one of course which inhibits Trustees from speaking publicly unless it is of course flattering to the school board. Unbelieveable! That Board has been in need of a housecleaning for a very long time and it's rules like these that have kept them non transparent and unaccountable. Literally here's what the rule says:"When expressing opinions publicly, trustees shall conscientiously uphold the board's reputation.". Wow such crap. I guess Trustees are only allowed to express other people's opinions or perhaps the opinions of the twits who set up that rule in the first place. Mr. Ramsay was a little too candid during a radio interview last May. He told the truth and surprise, surprise the Board didn't like it. My opinion is that it's long past time that the Province stepped in and cleaned house or at least gave it a hell of a shakeup.
Monday, October 17, 2016
While I'm uncertain as to who the unreasonable, dogmatic buggers are on the Waterloo Region District School Board, nevertheless I'm loving this unmasking of the politics and culture at the WRDSB. Yours truly told the public exactly this seventeen to twenty years ago. I found the School Board, trustees and senior administrators to generally be first class assholes with fortunately a few exceptions. I have in the past mentioned here which were the good trustees back then and which specific senior administrators were nothing short of arrogant bureaucrats all concerned with appearances and willing to throw either students or parents under the bus to protect the image of the WRDSB. In fact the article in today's Waterloo Region Record makes it obvious that little has changed when you understand that trustees' first priority allegedly isn't helping students succeed; it is to enhance and promote public confidence in the abilities and integrity of the Board. Such utter bullshit Kathleen Woodcock! I ran for the Trustees position twenty years ago and it sure as hell wasn't in order to prop up the Board's mediocre abilities and integrity.
The article in today's Record is titled "School trustee could be censured". This crap at the WRDSB has been around for a long time and generally the ass kissers and bootlickers have been in charge. They view their positions as a test ground to prove that they will not rock the boat or disturb the status quo hence putting them in the mix for future nominations for higher elected office. The political system is inherently corrupt and it starts at the bottom with elected trustees. The more this corruption is exposed to the light of day the better. The more the WRDSB culture becomes publicly known the more citizens will understand why our education system has been going the wrong direction for a long time.
Friday, October 14, 2016
We spend hundreds of millions of dollars on the Ontario Ministry of the Environment every year. What do we get for it? Primarily puffery, bullshit and lies. Oh and in the case of large corporate polluters we get moral suasion because after all the Ontario M.O.E. appear to have neither the pockets nor the backbone necessary to insist upon compliance with the law. That law includes polluter pays when there are adverse environmental impacts.
These adverse environmental impacts are in the Canagagigue Creek between Elmira and the mouth of the creek into the Grand River. They probably go further downstream but to date we do not know. These effects are from a number of sources including mercury, DDT, Dioxins/Furans and P.C.B.s. They have been found in fish, creek sediments and even in the floodplain soils courtesy of the creek during spring floods and heavy storms.
DDT and Dioxin/Furans are categorically from Chemtura, formerly Uniroyal Chemical. P.C.B.s may be as well as we have found them in soils eight feet below ground this past summer on their property. Perhaps the mercury is a result of the upstream Woolwich Dam. If so that can indirectly be laid at the feet of Uniroyal as a big purpose of the Dam's construction was to provide water to flush the creek of Uniroyal's contaminants during summer low flow periods. These chemical compounds are bioaccumulative and are toxic to all forms of life including humans. There is no excuse for the M.O.E.s excuses not to remove them from the creek by ordering Chemtura to pitch in financially. Of course Chemtura will balk and yes Chemtura undoubtedly have bargaining chips based upon the M.O.E.'s past refusal to get tough with them. The M.O.E. may be embarrassed by their past velvet gloves approach but that is no reason to ignore their duty now.
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
In this case that is a good thing. They have gotten themselves a reputation for ignoring citizens and legitimate complaints. The latest nonsense has been in regards to attempting to ram through a sports multiplex without listening to the citizens who put them in office in the first place. Today's Waterloo Region Record carries the following Editorial titled "The high price of the right to know". It is an excellent discussion of the fact that citizens absolutely have the right to know even when it becomes costly or more costly for them to know ahead of time. Well done K-W Record!
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is still better known as Workman's Compensation ie. formerly WCB or Workman's Compensation Board. It has been the subject of complaints for decades regardless of the name change. Native Canadians have a long list of grievances including being pressured to get back to work too soon and or not having their injuries and diseases recognized as being from on the job effects. Worse yet are our migrant workers. They are brought into Canada not to do work that Canadians won't do as employers and politicians are fond of lying about but to do work that is dirty, heavy, long hours and poor living conditions all for low wages. If employers were to pay the going rate for labour they would find plenty of students and adults for summer harvests.
The article in last week's Waterloo Region Record is titled "Injured farm worker struggles to survive" and was written by Sara Mojtehedzadeh (Toronto Star). It describes a Jamaican migrant worker thrown from moving truck while on the job at a Niagara friut-picking operation. He sustained traumatic injuries and was deported back to Jamaica. The WSIB claims that they cut his benefits because he allegedly could find customer service work here in Canada. Firstly he has no way to get back to Canada and secondly he is illiterate and has a Grade 4 education. Clearly the WSIB have no interest in looking after him despite his being seriously injured on the job here in Canada. Perhaps migrant workers have the incorrect belief that Canada is a caring nation. The people may be but not so much the employers and our governments.
Friday, October 7, 2016
"The federal government has earmarked $100 million for payouts..." to women who were victimized and treated shabbily over a period of decades in the RCMP. Today's Waterloo Region Record carries this story titled "Teary RCMP boss apologizes, says harassment suit settled".
Further quotes from the story include "For many of our women this harassment has hurt them mentally and physically. It has destroyed relationships and marriages, and even whole families have suffered as a result. Their very lives have been affected.". These are the words of Bob Paulsen, RCMP chief. The news conference was held in Ottawa yesterday and included Public safety Minister Ralph Goodale as well as Labour Minister Mary Ann Mihychuk.
While this Settlement and apology was long overdue I have to wonder if it was primarily due to the new federal Liberal government owning up to their responsibilities. If it was then double the shame on the Conservative past governments and their party for allowing this to fester and keep it out of sight during their long tenure as the federal government of Canada.
Thursday, October 6, 2016
Figures can lie and liars can figure. Possibly it was Winston Churchill who first said that. Regardless this past week's Woolwich Observer newspaper carried an article titled "Road fatality statistics reinforce the rationale for Operation Impact". According to a five year report just released by the Ontario Provincial Police, 1,507 people died on Ontario roads between 2011 and 2015. They also maintain that four main behaviours were the cause. Allegedly alcohol and drugs were a factor in 321 deaths. Speeding allegedly was a factor in 336 deaths. Inattentive driving was a factor in 408 of the deaths and finally failure to wear a seat belt was a factor in 335 deaths.
Call me skeptical as these "behaviours" "were a factor" in 1,400 of the 1,507 deaths if each one was individually a factor. My suspicion is that alcohol and drugs were probably associated with both speeding and inattentive behaviour. Hell maybe all four combined to cause four or five hundred of the deaths. Weather had to be a factor in winter both with visibility and with ice and snow on the roads. Also combined with weather was probably simply inexperience and stupidity. It is astounding how many Canadian drivers still don't have a clue as to how to drive on snow and ice. Hint driving 20-30 km/hour less than everybody else is rarely the right answer. As far as inattentive driving I would like to know how that is accurately measured. A dead driver can have their blood alcohol level determined but an inattentive driver I think not. Do the O.P.P. simply ask the surviving drivers who all blame the dead one?
Remember liars can figure and figures can lie. Meanwhile I agree that inattention is a major cause but so is inherent stupidity. It can sometimes even trump inattention.
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
The last public RAC meeting was on September 15, 2016. I spotted the Draft Minutes yesterday on the Woolwich Township website. Yours truly for the second time was a Delegate to RAC on behalf of the Citizens Public Advisory Committee (CPAC). This citizens group are made up of both the former Chemtura Public Advisory Committee members as well as their sub-committee known as SWAT. Rich Clausi, myself and Dr. Henry Regier were all on SWAT. As long as Woolwich Council were in charge of CPAC I was being discriminated against in order to keep me off of CPAC. Chemtura and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment are apparently intimidated by the combination of technical knowledge, historical knowledge and the willingness to call a spade a spade. Well things have changed and now I'm actually giving Delegations on behalf of CPAC.
The M.O.E. continue to lie. They (ie. the Minutes) state that a member of the public (moi) noted that there are Guidelines for Dioxins/Furans in agricultural soil. That is a falsehood. I clearly held up and advised that there were Canadian Sediment Guidelines for Dioxins/Furans. When will the remaining honest citizens in Elmira/Woolwich simply publicly call out Chemtura and the M.O.E. as I have done? Continuing to dialogue with professional liars and pretending otherwise has got us exactly where we are today which is reinventing the wheel, wasting time and going in never ending circles.
All that said is it still encouraging to hear various citizens, honest or otherwise call out the M.O.E. for attempting another stupid Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA)> The last one (2003) was a crock as will this one. Afterall when the liars are in charge of the process why would they do it honestly? If you are in charge and can't fudge numbers, samples and conclusions then you aren't really trying. This as always is all about money. Health and the environment are way, way down the list of priorities.
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Well appropriately so in my opinion Nestle has been taking a lot of heat for their business of taking publicly owned water, almost for free, and selling it in environmentally damaging plastic bottles for a huge markup. Now the story did get even worse at least temporarily. Allegedly Nestle had outbid Centre Wellington Township for the small property and well.
Well it turns out that is not the case. Centre Wellington had the first offers for the well and property but turned them down until an unexpected $1.5 million showed up. Then they put in an offer however unfortunately Nestle already had their conditional offer in. They dropped their condition and bought the property without conditions.The details of this story are in Luisa D'Amato's Opinion column in the September 29/16 Waterloo Region record titled "Nestle story is not a David-and-Goliath tale.
Monday, October 3, 2016
800 to 1100 class-action members of the lawsuit have received $50 Million. The suit started ten years ago after Stephen Harper excluded Labrador and Newfoundland from a national apology and related compensation package. Bad move Stephen as in hindsight it looks petty and penny pinching.
The story in last week's Waterloo Region Record was titled "$50M residential school settlement approved after 10 years". The judge noted that the case became acrimonious and in one decision ruled that "Canada had abused the process.". The compensation is between $15,000 and $20,000 for those attending five years or more. Clearly these amounts are peanuts. Additional sums up to $200,000 are available for those victims of sexual or "significant" physical abuse. Again if this had occurred decades ago the monetary compensation might have helped the survivors. At this point in time many have died plus the compensation for healing is of less use now that it would have been shortly after they got away from the schools.