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Who has Stewardship of the County?

Steve Campbell

Steve Campbell

Who are the best stewards of the land? Who are the best stewards of the people? These are questions I have been pondering, while watching the draconian movements of our provincial and federal governments.

The concept of stewardship goes back a long way. Originally, it described a position of responsibility. The steward was hired to watch and protect the mansions and grounds of wealthy landowners. This would involve protection of the people in the home, when the masters were away, and every lawn, garden and hedgerow on the property.
Today, the term ‘stewardship’ can apply to any individual or group who acts to protect anyone or anything threatened by any outside source.

For example, the Forestry Steward ship Council in my industry acted to make sure that replanting efforts accompanied clear-cutting of trees for lumber and pulp. Sadly, they grew into a giant bureaucracy, more interested in huge annual membership fees from paper mills and printshops for their ‘licence’ and ‘logo’, than in actually controlling the devastating effects of clear-cutting.
So now, let’s bring this home.

Who are the best stewards of the land? The Province? No, sorry, they get minus F on the scale (if there can be a level below complete Failure). They have a great history of deciding how your land can be put to better use by them, in the interest of progress.

Whether you’re pro-wind or anti-wind, you need to admit what is written large on the wall: Ostrander Point is a bad, bad, really bad place for industrial wind turbines. Many people with way more clout and expertise than me have shouted it out loud. The Ministry of Environment in the late 1960s expressed concern about the health effects of IWTs. Try to google that info now – it’s vanished.

One letter writer accused the Field Naturalists of not coming up with alternative locations for IWTs. I wrote about this over a year ago. Council offered to find appropriate places here in the County, and the province blew them away like a dry leaf. Imagine, the people who actually live in this backwoods rural clodville having anything to say that matters. The concept is ridiculous.

The Wind Tribunal, forced into being by two local County groups, has given some hope to stopping the Ostrander Point project, since their expert witnesses are clearly on the ground with the facts, and clearly state the potential devastating impact.
I attended one Demorestville meeting, because my editor Rick said: “Even if you have a half-hour, you have to go. It needs to be seen to be believed!”
He was quite right. A half-hour was all I could stand. It’s a lawyer’s game, and I love lawyer’s games about as much as I like a root canal, combined with a combo leg amputation/vasectomy, without anesthetic.

Here are my observations, albeit based on one painful half hour (some people, including some of our councillors, endured the full day, every day. God bless em ):

First, I can describe it as a meeting of the Slow Talkers of America. The developer’s lawyers apparently liked to have several seconds of space between each word, so that we could absorb the true meaning of the word ‘the’.
I wasn’t born yesterday, so I see what’s going on. They know the Field Naturalists have a limited amount of money, raised by the local community. So they’re running the clock, until their opposition is tapped out of cash, and they win.
I was tempted to just jump up and quickly ask the question the lawyer had been slowly forming for 5 minutes, and just shout out the question in 5 seconds. (At the end of it, the witness answered ‘Yes’. Which shows you the question didn’t need to be asked in the first place.)

Here’s another weird thing. Maybe I watch too much ‘Law and Order’, but the FN’s witness did a one hour presentation. He was then subjected to 10 hours of cross-examination by the MOE lawyer, and then, for several days, by the developer’s lawyers (Slow Talkers of America).
So I’m thinking: The MOE is holding the tribunal, and the arbitrator is to decide the outcome, and an MOE lawyer takes the first round in trying to discredit the witness. Boing, boing! I’ve never seen a kangaroo court in action. If it weren’t our future at stake, it would be funny.

To me, the MOE has hired a judge, and also its own lawyer to tear down the testimony of the defense witness. For 10 hours. I have not seen this on ‘Law and Order’, although it’s an American show, and possibly the judge isn’t allowed to hire his own lawyers to jump into the frey, push his own agenda, and get to the predetermined verdict.
(Josef Stalin said: “We’ll give you a fair trial, then you will be hanged at 3 pm Thursday.”)

Back to stewardship, before I run out of space. QHC. Are they stewards of our Health Care? Again, hell no. They’re not about protecting people (or even properly trimming the hedgerows), they’re about budget sheets.
I’m a small business owner, but I get budget sheets. The problem is not that QHC had a $10mill shortfall. It’s because the original budget from the Ministry did not remotely address the needs of Health Care in the province.
Unless the Ministry’s budget was drawn up by a 5-year-old with a crayon, they really, really should have known that they did not allocate enough money to Health Care.

But LHIN and QHC, being a fat bureaucracy under another, under another – and possibly another we don’t even know about – is charged with correcting a stupid mistake made by that provincial level, which sits comfortably just below God, except without the brainpower.

Jeez, any accountant in the County could tell where this went wrong. Not enough money was allocated to Health Care in the budget. Even the treasurer for a County UCW does not say: “Hmm, this will cost $1,000, so I’ll allocate $100 in the budget.” It’s blatant stupidity.
Keep in mind, this is all imaginary money. It flies around like Monopoly bills, with every roll of the dice. The horrifying, drop-dead, change-everything $10 million critical shortfall in QHC becomes a $20 mill hockey arena in Sarnia. Or another unneeded power project at Lennox Generating in Napanee, which makes our hospital woes look like loose change to the Province.

Not to beat the same drum, but $10 mill is dick-all to a government which has way overspent our tax money. Our hospital suffers, and yet IWT developers have a provincial Visa card with an ‘infinity’ limit.
“Road damage, sure, we’ll cover it. Click-click. There ya go. Tear them down when they’re done in 20 years? Sure, click-click.”

Who are the stewards of the land and the people? We are.
There’s lots of action, lots of protest, tribunals, lots of words flying – all from people who genuinely have taken on the stewardship job the province has forsaken. Some say it’s pointless to fight it. But it’s not.

We need to shake off our compromising attitudes – you can’t reason with the devil. We need voices. Loud voices, angry voices. And many more than we have now.
Next: What can YOU do?

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElseSteve Campbell

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  1. Doris Lane says:

    Steve I went to Demorestville a couple of times and yes it is painful The lawyers for MOE and Gilead act like they are on a slow boat to China. Of course we the tax payers are paying the shot for the MOE lawyers as well as trying to finance our defence of Ostrander Point.

  2. Wolf Braun says:

    You’re right Steve Campbell the fight for our hospital is NOT pointless !!! So does this mean you will be on the P.O.O.C.H. bus to Queen’s Park that’s leaving at 8am sharp on Wednesday the 17th ??? Tickets are available at Books & Company and most real estate offices in Picton and Wellington. This is one thing that everyone in The County can do to save our hospital.

    Government is NOT democracy ! Democracy is People !

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