Canada’s Greenwash

 On March 15, 2018 the government of Canada declared that it was going to dedicate $500 million to projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gases. Brilliant. The year is 2018. It is thirty years since the alarm was sounded in Toronto by the World Meteorological Society. In this case, better late than never doesn’t quite cut it.


But, if there is any good day to celebrate Canada’s Greenwashing, it surely is on St. Patrick’s Day. I’m sure most of our politicians are kissing the blarney stone right now.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says the government’s Low Carbon Economy Challenge will hand out the $500 million over the next four years to fund projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while also saving energy and creating green jobs.

I have a couple of suggestions. First, put the $500 million into a Precautionary Principles Fund for mitigating the coming flood, drought, fire, ice storm, Arctic thaw, and coastal erosion insurance claims. Secondly, if you really want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, suspend all developments in the tar sands, thirdly close all coal fired electricity plants,  fourthly stop extracting oil and fracking gas, and finally convert fossil fuel company dinosaurs into twenty-first century renewable energy corporations.

It is making me gag to hear our government offer $500 million to explore solutions that were proposed thirty years ago. It’s like gun violence – the solution is easy. Control the guns! You want to significantly reduce greenhouse gases? Then shut down the industries that produce excessive greenhouse gases and don’t approve projects like Trans Mountain Pipeline that encourage more fossil fuel use! You want to stop violence against women? Expose and #MeToo the heck out of stupid, abusive men!

This is the KISS principle, consensual of course, for environmental literacy.

Your community wants clean water? Don’t dump toxic chemicals or sewage into the watershed. I’m sure Grassy Narrows would have appreciated that private corporation requirement with stringent government oversight and enforcement instead of a lazy blind eye.. Don’t reward people with a $500 million taxpayer bailout when they are so environmentally illiterate that they don’t  realize it’s not a good idea to defecate in the community well. “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” “Well then, stop doing that!”

Canada stands tall on the world stage, represented by wonderful and well-meaning people, lauded in the myth of our green environmental standing by dint of our tiny global population. But per capita, we are major players in contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.

This is not my opinion alone. Try this from a November 2017 news report by Bob Weber of the Canadian Press for CBC:

“To an international diplomat, the irony is painful — the country that promised action on climate change is falling behind while the country that has spurned a major treaty on the issue is making progress.

That’s Canada and the United States, Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, said Wednesday.

“It’s a bit of a paradox, here,” Gurria told The Canadian Press. “In Canada, you have a situation where you have a very strong political will to reduce, but effectively it has not gone on the planned road.

“In the United States, you have a government that has pulled out of the (Paris) agreement, but in the United States you are having a reduction in emissions.”

Gurria has high praise for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government’s strong vocal support for climate change. Gurria said Trudeau made a real contribution to reaching the Paris deal in 2015 in which 169 countries promised to reduce their emissions enough to keep global warming under two degrees Celsius.

But when the signatories get together next year to take a look at each other’s progress, Canada may not be so much in evidence.

“You have here a very proactive and decisive leadership moving in the direction of reduction of emissions, and a very active participant in the Paris agreement and a very active participant in the whole of the world’s move,” said Gurria, who was in Toronto to speak at the Munk School at the University of Toronto.

“While at the same time, the local situation is showing that speed of reduction is not as fast as one would have wanted.”

Yes, Bob. Yes, Canada. Yes, Catherine. Not what we wanted by March 2018. And not worth $500 million to start now. The train has already left the station. Either shut down the big emitters or stop proselytizing. Our children are the first recognize a greenwash and. like the students in Parkland, they want action, not a greenwash stuck in the spin cycle.

The way I see it.


 Skid Crease, Caledon

 *image from

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Ready to Lay

originally written for Just Sayin’ Caledon – a news commentary


There are going to be some new girls in Town this spring, Caledon, and they’re all coming to the Albion Hills Community Farm. They are known in the industry as RTLs – ready to lay pullets – and they are going to teach us a thing or two about home grown food.

Yes, these are our special backyard hens that will be on display at the Albion Hills Community Farm all spring, summer and fall. Thanks to our research with municipalities around Ontario last year as we were preparing the Town’s By-law on keeping Backyard Hens, we were able to connect with some top breeders.

We will we be hosting the standard backyard hen known as the Golden Buff, or more commonly as the red cross sex-link from Frey’s Hatchery in St. Jacobs, ON. These four girls will be on view in our permanent coop and run built to Town by-law specifications by the talented students at Humberview Secondary School.

But we will also have the only Canadian breed of chicken known, and the only natural winter egg layer known, the endangered Chantecler from Quebec. Thought at one point to have gone extinct, the Chantecler was rediscovered on a few small farms and the stock is slowly rebuilding. The owner of Cirrus Farms in Meaford was so impressed with our enthusiasm for bringing the backyard hens to Caledon, that she hooked us up with a Chantecler breeder. We were lucky enough to get four RTLs that I will be picking up in April.

These hardy all Canadian girls will be showcased in our portable chicken ark courtesy of a partnership with United Lumber’s Home Hardware in Bolton. Part of the purpose of this display at the AHCF is to help educate the public on the proper care and realities of taking on backyard hens for your family. Besides the expense and time, this is long term pet ownership and requires responsible adult supervision. Our project at AHCF will document the costs, caregiver time, egg production, health and safety issues, and pleasures of raising local food.

Not to mention that our “coop cams” will give a 24-hour live feed to entertain and inform Caledonians and the international community who are connected to AHCF online.

Over the winter months when the AHCF is closed, our hens will go home with caring families to backyards in Caledon, portable chicken ark, water heater, and feed included. Although the Golden Buffs will lay very little over the winter, families will still get a few fresh eggs, so checking their coop every morning is an ongoing part of the responsibility. We’ll compare that with the Chantecler winter egg production as part of our three year studies for the Town.

For those who hear stories about the hens only laying for two to three years, yes it’s true. IF you are a factory farmer who leaves the lights on all the time to force egg production. I’m sure Liam Neeson is going to make a movie about this called “Taken 4 Granted”, where he goes to rescue his hens from a factory farm before 15,000 of them get slaughtered every few years and composted so the barn can be cleared for the next batch of productive ready to lay pullets.

When left to their own devices, most hens slow down in the winter according to the reduced daylight hours. That’s why there will be no artificial lights in their coops – every girl needs a winter vacation. This way their natural egg production will continue for many more years. Of course, if you are an all-Canadian, you just keep going and going through all seasons. Our Chanteclers are very special and will be part of an international study on heritage breeds.

So there you have it in an eggshell! The backyard hens are coming and they are ready to lay fresh eggs right in our own backyards.

Tremendous thanks to Patrick Trafford and the Town of Caledon for their excellent work in preparing a best practices by-law to bring the backyard hens to Caledon. And a very special thank you to the Mayor and a majority of Caledon Councillors and Regional Councillors who championed and supported this endeavour.

Now, let’s get cracking!


Skid Crease, Caledon

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Conduct Unbecoming

originally written as an editorial comment for Just Sayin’ Caledon

There are very good reasons why the Town of Caledon should be examining their Code of Conduct and Workplace Harassment policies, and questionable behaviour from a couple of politicians is only one of the them.

First, a Code is mandated under the new Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Act Legislation 2017. Not a discussion item. But what is up for discussion is the wording of the Code of Conduct and its alignment with best practices in dealing with Workplace Harassment.

In fact, Municipalities may combine their policies on Code of Practice to Address Workplace Harassment with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and their Code of Conduct.

According to the Ontario government, by law, “harassment” may include:

  • making remarks, jokes or innuendos that demean, ridicule, intimidate, or offend;
  • displaying or circulating offensive pictures or materials in print or electronic form;
  • bullying;
  • repeated offensive or intimidating phone calls or e-mails; or
  • workplace sexual harassment.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) an employer may include the following behaviours as examples of workplace harassment:

  • offensive or intimidating comments or jokes;
  • bullying or aggressive behaviour;
  • displaying or circulating offensive pictures or materials;
  • inappropriate staring;
  • workplace sexual harassment;
  • isolating or making fun of a worker because of gender identity.

So, for example, a Councillor challenges the applicability of a report from a recently hired  member of the Town’s Senior Admin Team with the dismissive comment, “You’re new here.” If that member of Town Staff felt demeaned, intimidated, ridiculed, or offended by the Councillor’s statement, that’s workplace harassment.

Now, if that Councillor were a first term, barely elected representative of “the people”, and if the new Town Staff member had years of private and public legislative experience, the “You’re new here” comment could be considered workplace harassment by a narcissistic bully. Particularly if that Councillor had previously been found guilty of violating the norms of appropriate behaviour with colleagues.

Or suppose that volatile politicians, on hearing that a work crew in their ward is being harassed by members of the public, declare that they will take care of it. “Not so fast,” says the Town’s CAO, “Those workers are hired by the Town and it is the Town’s responsibility to deal with the situation.”

“Our boys – we’ll take care of it,” declare the fire, ready, aim politicians!

“No, the safety of the Town’s staff falls under the OHSA. Not your responsibility,” patiently explains the CAO. More proof positive that the adult model only works when you’re dealing with adults.

So, Town of Caledon, become educated in the rationale for pursuing a modernized guide to Conduct, Harassment and Workplace Safety designed to improve the quality of discourse and behaviour in the governance of our Town. This is not an attempt to muzzle the rights of free speech or to eliminate diversity of opinion. Rather it is to ensure respectful behaviour and communication between all members of the Town Staff and Council.

As much as the “Propaganda Machine” of local newspapers, and the alternative truth, libelous postings of blogging politicians and their spouses would try to convince you otherwise, the only people who fear an improved Code of Conduct and Harassment Policy are those incapable of playing nice.

The way I see it.


Skid Crease, Caledon








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Mittens in the Snow 2018

Once again the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) hit a home run .. with a snowball in a snowstorm! It was hard to miss the invitation this year:

But if you did miss it, just stick a Mitten on your 2019 calendar and get ready for next February!

This is only one of the Outdoor Education workshops the SCDSB has staged  for its teachers since the initiative began in 2014. Under the guidance of Superintendent Paula Murphy and program leaders Sandy Clee and Julie Fisher, an incredible team of staff and volunteers including Becky, Cathern, Crystal, Jessica, and Marsha put together a full day event three times a year. Teachers losing hope for the future of outdoor education Professional Development opportunities in Ontario, take heart – it is alive and well in Simcoe County.

Picture over a hundred educators enthusiastically and voluntarily coming together on a Saturday in the fall, winter, and spring to learn how to engage their students in that natural world outside of those four classroom walls. The events are appropriately named Hands in the Dirt, Mittens in the Snow, and Singing in the Rain.

Over the years, the conference has taken place at different venues, including the grounds of the Board Office. But a partnership with the Beausoleil First Nation, the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority (NVCA) and the Ministry of Natural Resources has given them access to Springwater Provincial Park and the Tiffin Centre for Conservation. Mittens was held at Tiffin this year and it was magical.

Besides the hundred plus educators from various Boards who attended, there were also dignitaries from the Ministry of Education and the Simcoe Board who dropped by to visit, including Director Steve Blake. And for those of us used to the local trustee stopping by for a quick handshake, the Chair of the Board, Trustee Peter Beacock spent the entire day with his teachers.

Talented facilitators like the unsinkable Bonnie Anderson who started us off with a rousing rendition of the song “Hibernation” (with full apologies to the original lyrics from “Alouette”). The highly skilled NVCA staff like Grant Wilson and his incredible quinzee (now of Twitter fame), and Maegan McConnell, who introduced us to the Tiffin porcupines, made the day all the more memorable.

With workshops on everything from winter survival shelter construction to bird feeder building, to kick-sledding, to snowshoeing, to math and science and geography and natural history and the just plain joy of being outdoors, Mittens has it all. Not to mention literacy as author Jacob Rotenburg introduced the award winning book he co-authored with naturalist Drew Monkman called, “The Big Book of Nature Activities”

And then there was that outrageous moment at l;unch when Grant Wilson and I were trying to identify the age and sex of a porcupine by its scat, and Bonnie came by and ate the “scat”  much to the shock of the packed lunchroom. More on that at the next conference.

See you in the spring when we’ll be “Singing in the Rain”, and where I’ll be doing a workshop on “scat” identification, and sharing some trade secrets …

;>) Yours outdoors,




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Let’s Talk Day

Yesterday was the notable “Let’s Talk Day”, unfortunately sponsored by Ma Bell. However, the intent is wonderful – a chance to bring mental health issues into the open and allow individuals, families and communities to deal respectfully with the realities of differences in sanity. The deep necessity of a day like this was emphasized when Doug Ford announced his decision to tun for the leadership of the already disabled Ontario Regressive Conservative Party. We really need to talk.

However, on a more serious note, I would like to talk about an acquaintance who is afflicted with aggressive narcissistic personality disorder. This person probably has some wonderful character traits, but they are deeply buried beneath a defensive and aggressive exterior. I have attempted both personal and official channels to get his person help, but to no avail.

Even when faced with the absolute reality of gravity, this person will deny its existence if it doesn’t fit the populist worldview of the moment. My acquaintance has also shown a great disregard for reality beyond basic science. For example, although holding no college or university certifications in any profession, this person continuously claims almost superhuman skills in everything from Architecture to Environmental Science. So sad.

Perhaps it is this basic lack of any real competence that makes this person such an aggressive bully. Perhaps it is living with an equally ignorant partner who reinforces the bad behaviour. Perhaps an abusive childhood raised by inflexible,ultra-religious domineering parents (I know, I know – there’s a movie script just waiting…) I have no idea what the root causes of this negative social behaviour might be, but his person desperately needs help.

Let’s talk.


Skid Crease, Caledon

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