The Green Nobel Prize goes to …

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From The Goldman Environmental Foundation:

“The Goldman Environmental Prize is a prize awarded annually to grassroots environmental activists, one from each of the world’s six geographic regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South and Central America. Each year, the Goldman Environmental Prize is honoured to recognize six heroes of the environment. Join us tonight, November 30, 2020, 7:00 pm EST on Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter to meet them and hear their stories firsthand. Hosted by award-winning actress Sigourney Weaver, this virtual award ceremony will feature Robert Redford, Danni Washington, and Lenny Kravitz, as well as musical performances from Jack Johnson and Michael Franti.”

The 2020 prize winners are Kristal Ambrose from the Bahamas, Chibeze Ezekiel from Ghana, Nemonte Nenquimo from Ecuador, Leydy Pech from Mexico, Lucie Pinson from France, and Paul Sein Twa from Myanmar.

I would like to highlight the work of Nemonte Nenquimo for selfish reasons. Thirty years ago I started a global and environmental education initiative called Global Perspectives: the Periwinkle Project, named after the endangered and life-saving rosy periwinkle of Madagascar. For Christmas of that year, instead of buying gifts for each other, my family donated to the Guardians of the Rainforest program to protect endangered jaguar habitat in Central and South America. Flash forward from the headwaters of Mono Cliffs in 1989 to the rainforests of Ecuador in 2020.

“Nemonte Nenquimo was chosen for her success in protecting 500,000 acres of rainforest from oil extraction. She and fellow members of the Waorani indigenous group took the Ecuadorean government to court over its plans to put their territory up for sale. Their 2019 legal victory set a legal precedent for indigenous rights.”

Ms. Nenquimo’s hunting-gathering Waorani culture numbers around 5000 people, They had lived in relative isolation prior to contact with American missionaries in 1958. She recalls listening to her grandfather’s stories of the land and the people before that contact tried to Christianize their culture.

“Historically, the Waorani women have been the ones to make the decisions, the men went to war,” she explained in an interview with Online’s Latin America editor Vanessa Buschschlüter. “Waorani women made the men listen to them and it wasn’t until we had contact with the evangelical missionaries that we were told that God created Adam and that Eve came second and was created from Adam’s rib, that’s when the confusion [about women’s role] started.”

Sound familiar First Nations? The arrival of evangelical missionaries is when the confusion about everything starts. But Ms. Nenquimo decided to reverse history and became the first woman to be chosen as President of the Waorani of Pastaza province in Ecuador. “When it comes to making decisions, the women pull no punches, and everyone listens up”.

The courts in Ecuador certainly listened up because in In April 2019, in a case that would have allowed their lands to be auctioned off, the judges ruled in favour of the Waorani. “The ruling not only protects 500,000 acres from oil extraction but also means that the government will have to ensure free, prior and informed consent before auctioning off any other land in the future.”

To hear her full story, and those of the other recipients of the 2020 “Green Nobel” prizes from the Goldman Environmental Foundation, tune-in at 7:00 p.m. tonight. For full information about the Goldman Environmental Prize and how to register for tonight’s ceremony go to:

Nemonte Nenquimo and her fellow recipients are living proof of environmental literacy in action and inspirational examples to all of us who continue to educate, work, and fight for the health of our planet and all of its magnificent diversity of life.

The way I see it.

Skid Crease, Caledon

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The Betrayal of Caledon

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On Thursday, November 26, 2020, Caledon was betrayed by one of its own citizens, one of its own elected representatives. That person was Regional Councillor Annette Groves. And here is how it unfolded.

At the Region of Peel Council meeting that day, Mayor Patrick Brown of Brampton walked a surprise Motion on to the agenda that would remove two out of the five Regional Councillors currently representing the citizens of Caledon at the Region of Peel. The two seats that Caledon lost on Council would go to Brampton. Normal procedural guidelines and debate were suppressed and the Motion passed with the support of the Brampton and Mississauga Mayors and Councillors. The Mayor and Councillors from the Town of Caledon voted against the Motion with one notable exception … Caledon Regional Councillor Annette Groves.

Caledon’s Mayor and the other Caledon Regional Councillors were totally blindsided by the surprise walk-on Motion. Regional Councillor Jennifer Innis is hoping the Town Council will swiftly address Grove’s vote against Caledon’s citizens.

Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson responded immediately with an emergency communication to Caledon citizens: “This surprise motion is unacceptable. Representation on Council is important. This discussion warrants greater respect than a walk-on motion. If there are problems of representation to be addressed, they can’t be at the expense of diminishing Caledon’s voice on Regional Council. We are going to continue to play a bigger role economically for the region and in the Greater Toronto Area. Now more than ever, we need effective representation.”

A Special Live-Streamed Council Meeting was quickly called for November 30, 2020 to address this crisis. Local online news reporting on the reduction of Caledon’s significant reduction of representation at the Region of Peel drew a swift commentary from one Bolton resident:

“This surprise Motion was walked on by Mayor Patrick Brown and supported by Caledon Regional Councillor Annette Groves. It is totally unacceptable for a representative of Caledon to deliberately sabotage our representation at the Region of Peel. If allowed to stand, this act of betrayal will put the growth planning for Caledon at the mercy of Brampton and Mississauga politicians and their influential developer puppeteers.”

Citizens of Caledon should now be calling on their Council representatives to hold Regional Councillor Annette Groves accountable, publicly censure her, and in a recorded vote unanimously condemn her actions.

Regional Councillor Grove’s latest betrayal of Caledon is a confirmation that she is unfit to serve and represent our citizens.

The way I see it.


Skid Crease, Caledon

NOTE: The Peel Region meeting from November 25 is currently being streamed online.

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Lies, and Lying Liars

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 Here is the clearest possible example we can find of the reason why there is so much cognitive dissonance that occurs every time a Conservative politician opens his or her mouth in Ontario. Yesterday, the COVID-19 data summaries for Ontario were truly frightening:

• 1478 new cases and 21 deaths

• Toronto had 356 cases, and Peel hit a record 572 cases

• 63% increase in hospitalizations

Now read those numbers over again, very carefully.

Today Ontario reached a new record of 1855 cases.

This data is factually correct. As is the data in the Auditor General’s Annual Report that criticized the Ford government’s inadequate response to the pandemic. Factually correct.

Now, here is what the Premier and his minions said to The People of Ontario yesterday: “We are flattening the curve,” using reports from the burgeoningly obese and inefficient “Science Table” as proof of their success. “Provincial Health reports that cases appear to be flattening.”

Even with a modicum of literacy and mathematics skills, a perfectly ordinary person can look at the data, compare that to the Premier’s spin marketing and realize that reality is off the charts here. The government is lying to us. The curve is NOT flattening.

Ontario needs to know exactly who composes the bulky membership of that “Science Table” and who exactly is issuing those “Provincial Health” Reports. According to Bonnie Lysyk (MBA, FCPA, FCA, LPA), our Auditor General, the provincial response to COVID-19 has been anything but open, transparent and accurate. The Premier sputters and lies in response, the Minister of Health feigns indignation and lies in response. But neither tells the truth or accepts responsibility.

This is not confined to Ontario. Yesterday in Quebec, Premier Legault told the bald-faced lie that “the COVID fight is almost over because we have the vaccine.” The fight is just beginning, you COVIDIOT, and the vaccine won’t be available to most Canadians until at least the summer of 2021. Joyeux Noel.

When the lying liars tell us that accurate reports are lies, that a record setting rise in caseloads and hospitalizations appears to be a flattening of the curve, and the fight is almost over when our opponent appears to be getting stronger, it’s time to change the diapers.

The way I see it.


Skid Crease, Caledon

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Herd Stupidity

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Over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, the term “herd immunity” has become a part of our vocabulary. That was based on the ill-founded hope that if enough people got exposed to COVID-19, the general population might develop an immunity to the virus.

And while herd immunity may be a distant dream, herd stupidity is flourishing. It was on full display in Toronto recently as groups of anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, Q-Anon conspiracists, evangelical extremists, MAGA cap deplorables, freedom rally revolutionaries,  and the curious public joined the owner of Adamson’s BBQ as he protested his right to violate Ontario’s pandemic health guidelines restricting indoor dining.

As scatologists have noted, that the moment after a dog drops a piece of excrement on your lawn, carrion flies appear out of nowhere to congregate for the feast. So it is with the Adamson BBQ “freedom” protest, and the scent spread like wildfire on social media. We don’t have to go to the US and watch Thanksgiving and Black Friday crowds to see clear examples of herd stupidity. We have our own outstanding examples right here in Toronto the Good.

The way I see it.


Skid Crease, Caledon

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Ford and Elliot pull a Trump

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 Ontario’s Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk, issued her Annual Report today and it was extremely critical of the Ontario government’s handling of the COVID-19 response.

Before I go into the details, note that almost every one of the AG’s concerns had been highlighted on my old Twitter account, prior to switching back to my blog. Mr. Ford’s summer campaign tour was a waste of time and money while Long Term Care was in a crisis, Christine Elliot was called upon to  resign several times between March and November, and Dr. Williams was generally considered to be inadequate in his role.

So Ms. Lysyk’s scathing report should have come as a surprise to no one. But Mr. Ford and Ms. Elliot reacted with predicable outrage when their incompetence was put on full public display. The misogynistic Mr. Ford told the Auditor General to “stay in her lane,” and Ms. Elliot claimed that the report was filled with inaccuracies. To which The Auditor General calmly reminded both of them that all data in the report was “vetted for factual accuracy.”

The Conservative denial and spin machine went into full doublespeak and tried to shoot the messenger. But the report stands on its own merit as an indictment of a government that gave the same attention to their COVID-19 response as they gave to licence plates and gas pump stickers. The shiny appearance of efficiency that failed in both function and message.

The problem with their COVID-failure is that people died. Ford and Elliot, and their Central Command Table didn’t get the job done, and now they are trying to defend their incompetence by attacking the Auditor General. It’s like watching Trump deny responsibility and reality for all of his sins of omission and commission.

For those who missed the full report, the best summary came out of Canadian Press on November 25, 2020, included here:

Among other things, auditor general Bonnie Lysyk said that Ontario’s measures were “slower and more reactive relative to most other provinces.”

Here are five highlights from the auditor general’s report.

1. Confusing leadership structure slowed Ontario’s response

The auditor general’s report said that Ontario’s command structure had become “overly cumbersome” and was not led by public health experts. The report said that the province’s Health Command Table ballooned from 21 members to 90 participants, and now 500 people are involved. The meetings themselves were confusing, with the auditor general finding that all communication was by teleconference until July 14 – four months into the pandemic – when a switch was made to video conference.

2. Outside consultation process took up valuable time

Lysyk’s report also said that Premier Doug Ford’s government had to hire an external consultant to create a new government structure to address the public health crisis.

Although the province declared an emergency on March 17, the auditor general said it took weeks for the consultant’s approach to be implemented, with the first meeting of the Central Co-ordination Table held on April 11. The report said the consultants were needed because of significant changeover in leadership in Ontario’s Provincial Emergency Management Office, outdated emergency plans and a lack of sufficient staff.

3. A failure to learn from the past

Lysyk said key lessons from the SARS outbreak of 2003 were not implemented by the time COVID-19 hit Ontario. For example, the final report from the SARS Commission said that taking decisive action early was the most important lesson from that outbreak. The auditor general’s report said that instead it saw delays, conflicts, and confusion in the provincial government’s decision-making in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

4, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health could have done more

The report found that Dr. David Williams, the province’s top public health doctor, did not fully exercise his powers under the Health Protection and Promotion Act to respond to COVID-19. The auditor general said Williams did not issue directives to local medical officers of health to ensure public health units responded consistently to the COVID-19 pandemic, and he didn’t issue directives on their behalf. The auditor general noted that in May, 34 local medical officers of health jointly prepared and signed a document stating there needed to be more direction and regional consistency.

5. Regional approach is too independent and confusing

Ontario’s auditor general found that public health in other provinces, like British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec were “simply more organized.” The report said that variations in management and operations among Ontario’s public health units contributed to fragmentation and inconsistencies across the province. It also noted that public health reforms recommended 15 years ago by the SARS Commission had not been fully acted on and that Ontario’s 34 public health units were still operating independently with best practices still not being shared as of the report’s release.

Thank you Canadian Press for that reporting, and thank you Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk for the accuracy of your report. Now we just need a government that will truly work “For The People” – time to put your big boy pants on and pay the piper, Doug. The way I see it.


Skid Crease, Caledon