Township of Springwater Holds Inaugural Council Meeting
Township of Springwater / December 5, 2018 – The Township of Springwater’s newly elected Council held its inaugural meeting tonight at the Elmvale Community Hall. Mayor Don Allen, Deputy Mayor Jennifer Coughlin and the Township’s five Councillors were officially sworn in by Justice Robert Gattrell for the 2018-2022 Council term.
Pictured L to R: Ward 2 Councillor Perry Ritchie, Ward 4 Councillor Anita Moore, Mayor Don Allen, Ward 1 Councillor George Cabral, Deputy Mayor Jennifer Coughlin and Ward 3 Councillor Wanda Maw Chapman. Not pictured: Ward 5 Councillor Jack Hanna.
The ceremony took place before a large group of supporters, family and friends. Mayor Allen was joined by members of his new council which included two incumbents— Deputy Mayor Jennifer Coughlin and Ward 2 Councillor Perry Ritchie—and three new Councillors—Ward 1 Councillor George Cabral, Ward 3 Councillor Wanda Maw Chapman and Ward 4 Councillor Anita Moore. Incumbent Ward 5 Councillor Jack Hanna was unable to attend the ceremony.
In Mayor Allen’s Inaugural Council address, he spoke about his future vision for the Township and how he plans to move Springwater forward.
“Development will be a common theme in Springwater over the next four years,” said Mayor Allen in reference to the Township’s residential, commercial and community growth. “Overarching this will be matters that need to be addressed on a Township-wide basis, such as completing our Springwater Official Plan update, policing, traffic calming, recreational vehicles, seniors’ accommodation, cannabis regulation implementation and many more.”
“Being proactive rather than reactive, having good communication and working as a team will lead to the best results,” added Mayor Allen. “This applies at the Township level and also with Simcoe County staff and Councillors. We will endeavour to work more closely with other municipalities and government agencies to share best practices, ideas and synergies.”
Other members of Council expressed their own sentiments and aspirations for the coming years and thanked their family and friends for their support.
Mayor Allen and Deputy Mayor Coughlin were officially sworn into Simcoe County Council on December 11, 2018 at 1:00 p.m.
French prosecution “beyond unusual,” lawyer says
By Kate Harries AWARE News Network
Former Springwater mayor Bill French faces a very novel prosecution on 10 charges relating to his 2014 campaign finance statement, his lawyer told a crowd of French supporters yesterday.
The novelty, Phil Horgan explained, is that the prosecutor’s bills are being paid by Springwater Township, but he doesn’t get instructions from the township. In fact, he gets instructions from no one.
“This is beyond unusual, I will be arguing that it is illegal,” Horgan said.
He spoke outside a Barrie courtroom, where the matter had been briefly addressed before being put over to March 28, 2019 for pretrial.
The issue is that Kingston lawyer Tony Fleming was appointed by the Springwater-Oro-Medonte compliance audit committee - made up of Robert Barlow and George Wodoslawsky of Oro-Medonte and Colin McLarty of Springwater –which saw its term expire on November 30 2018.
And while Fleming is paid by the township, he’s not instructed by the township, because that would be a breach of a “wall” that’s supposed to guard against political influence relating to compliance with campaign rules.
“His discretion is not fettered by some existing committee or higher authority,” Horgan said of Fleming. “According to his position, he is the guy who makes the decisions.”
During yesterday’s hearing, Horgan also asked for further disclosure from the prosecution. He said he wants to see committee members’ notes, which he likened to a police officer’s notes, as well as the minutes of in-camera meetings.
He told supporters he plans to examine issues relating to the role played by committee members, with at least one member appearing to have acted in breach of their commitment to impartiality, as well as jurisdictional problems and the length of time the matter has taken so far – more than four years since the end of the 2014 election campaign.
Normal practice is for campaign finance statements to be filed within six months, at which point any elector has 30 days to file a complaint (the complainant in this case, Dan McLean, filed on the last day), and there are then a series of tight deadlines for the committee to hold a hearing, decide on whether to order an audit, and then decide on whether to prosecute.
But the deadlines were derailed by the committee’s refusal to accept the initial audit and its decision to order a second, “forensic” audit. That marked the start of a legal saga that resulted in the matter dragging on until past the 2018 mayoral election – which French lost to deputy mayor Don Allen by 82 votes.
The 10 charges against French each carry a maximum penalty of $25,000. They involve a total of under $1,100 dollars in expenses that still left him $5,000 under his $21,000 spending limit. “It was not that he didn’t report them (the $1,100 expenses) but he didn’t report them properly,” Horgan said.
Several in the crowd expressed displeasure at the cost to the township – in the order of $300,000 so far. “It’s our money,” one man said.
Without any constraint on what the township will pay, “it’s almost like there’s this vat of resources available to the prosecution,” Horgan said.
But, he said, if the township cut off the money, the likelihood is that the matter would end. “The private prosecutor isn’t going to be doing this for fun.”
Around 20 supporters attended yesterday’s proceedings. Among them was Dump Site 41 campaigner Stephen Ogden. Also in court were Springwater Deputy Mayor Jennifer Coughlin and former Springwater councillor Rick Webster.
Kate Harries is a member of the Committee for Justice for Bill French.
Electric Cars – 40,000 Children Working in the Mines From Hell
Electric cars aren’t so clean.
Picking through a mountain of huge rocks with his tiny bare hands, the exhausted little boy makes a pitiful sight.
His name is Dorsen and he is one of an army of children, some just four years old, working in the vast polluted mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where toxic red dust burns their eyes, and they run the risk of skin disease and a deadly lung condition. Here, for a wage of just 8p a day, the children are made to check the rocks for the tell-tale chocolate-brown streaks of cobalt – the prized ingredient essential for the batteries that power electric cars.
And it’s feared that thousands more children could be about to be dragged into this hellish daily existence – after the historic pledge made by Britain to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars from 2040 and switch to electric vehicles.
Doug Downey MPP Barrie, Springwater, Oro-Medonte
Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte is home to some of Ontario’s greatest natural landscapes. Our forests, lakes and parks make for striking scenery, and internationally renowned attractions. The beauty found in this community is cherished and protected. It is a proud staple of our home, and should be shared and celebrated throughout the province.
As an MPP, I send cards across Ontario to colleagues, constituents, and friends year-round. Instead of ordering standard generic cards, I want to display the talent and beauty our region has to offer. This is why I am hosting a Community Card Competition!
I am asking students and young photographers to send us their best scenic landscape photographs taken within the Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte riding. I will be using the chosen pictures as covers for my new cards, with credit given to each photographer on the back of their card.
This is a fantastic opportunity for student photographers and young artists to display their talents and build a portfolio, all while celebrating the beauty our region has to offer. Please encourage the young people in your life to participate, and help us share what makes this place so very special!
Bruce Stanton MP Simcoe North
Carbon Tax Ineffective and Expensive
The government has released their plan to impose a Carbon Tax on all residents of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and P.E.I., due their not having a carbon pricing regime in place. It will start in January 1, 2019 – at $10/tonne, and increase to $50/tonne by 2023. The plan calls for “most” of the taxes collected to be sent back to residents directly, in the form of rebate cheques. In Ontario, this is estimated to amount to $12.50/person/month or $150/year. The rebates will only go to people, not businesses.
90% of the big greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting businesses have been exempted from paying the carbon tax (so they won’t be uncompetitive with the US and other markets that are not collecting this tax). The burden of the carbon tax will therefore rest on the shoulders of the low-income Canadians, seniors, single parents and the middle class, who can least afford it.
I feel that clearly, the estimated Ontario personal tax rebate of $150/year will not come close to what people are going to have to pay in higher taxes – at the pump and on essentially all fossil fuels, and indirectly on the higher cost of goods using these fuels. Canada has agreed to reduce our emissions to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030, a goal I firmly believe we must take collective action to achieve. There are however a number of measures that can be enacted by governments to help curb GHG emissions. Carbon taxes is only one and perhaps the least effective and with the significant downsides. The big problem with the government’s carbon tax plan, is that it won’t do what they say it will – reduce GHG emissions. British Columbia has had a carbon tax of $35/tonne for 5 years. Their emissions have not gone down; in fact, they’re going up.
The reduction of GHG is far more global and complex than simply taxing Canadians more. Climate change solutions transcend national policies and Canada contributes only 1.6% of total global GHG emissions. I agree we must do our part, but believe we can gradually reduce emissions without putting ineffective taxes on average Canadians.
My party will present our plan for GHG reduction before the next election. I know our opponents continue to criticize us for not releasing our approach but, rest assured, we will have a sensible and responsible approach that will put Canada on course to meet our objectives.
Bruce Stanton, M.P. Simcoe North
Tiny Township’s Mayor’s Monthly Message – December 2018
Wow, December 1st! Yesterday, (November 30th) was officially the last day for the outgoing Council (2014-2018), however technically, we remain in place until the inauguration of the new Council (2018-2022), which takes place this Monday, Dec. 3rd. (Further details below)
With the holiday season fast approaching, I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. Please enjoy a safe and happy holiday season.
Noel au Village
Noёl au Village and Tiny’s 15th Annual Tree Lighting Celebration was held Saturday, November 24th in Lafontaine. For the first time, the Township of Tiny partnered with Le Festival du Loup to bring the community a spectacular tree lighting. The event was attended by over 500 residents and visitors, and included fun activities for the whole family. To learn more about the event, please see the attached Press Release.
Official Plan Update
The Township of Tiny has prepared a new Official Plan in accordance with Section 17 of the Planning Act, R.S.O. 1990 that sets out where and how the Township will grow to the year 2031.
The Official Plan establishes the framework for future decisions related to land development. The Official Plan outlines what is generally permitted within each land use designation and includes associated policies. The Official Plan requires updating as there have been many Provincial and County of Simcoe policy changes.
Over the last two years, the Township has completed significant public consultation in the form of three Open Houses and a statutory Public Meeting. The final draft of the new Official Plan was presented at the November 26th Regular Meeting of Council and was ratified with the full support of Council. The official Plan can be viewed at www.tiny.ca.
Our approved Official Plan will now be sent to the County of Simcoe for their review and approval. The County is the planning approval authority for lower tier Municipalities.
Council will commence 2019 udget deliberations on December 12th at 9:00 a.m., with two further meetings scheduled on January 21st and February 4th. The Special Committee of the Whole Meetings are lived steamed on our YouTube Channel, and are open to the public.
Committees of Council
Interested in participating in your local government and making a difference in your community? Watch for Committees of Council position vacancies in the New Year as we begin recruitment for the 2018-2022 term of Council. We are also planning an open house to give you a better opportunity to understand the committees’ roles and objectives and how best you might contribute.
Visit https://www.tiny.ca/government/employment for current employment opportunities including Chief Building Official, Public Skating Monitors and Skating Instructors.
Mayor George Cornell Township of Tiny
Alex Nuttall MP for Barrie Springwater Oro-Medonte
As the year draws to a close, I am once again reminded to reflect and give thanks for all the wonderful opportunities that I have been given as the Member of Parliament for Barrie – Springwater – Oro-Medonte. It is an honour and a privilege to serve the people of this riding in Ottawa and to bring forth their vision of a better Canada to my colleagues in Parliament.
The holidays are an important time of year. It is when we gather together and share in a spirit of love and giving. It is a season for families and friends to reunite and focus on what really matters. It is a time of magic and joy for children who experience the wonder of the season.
It is also a difficult time for many families who are not as fortunate. In the spirit of the season, I would encourage all my constituents to take the time to give back this Christmas. Donate to the Food Bank or the Salvation Army. Spend time volunteering or visit the elderly. Whatever you do this season, do it in the spirit of joy and kindness that Christmas brings.
From my family to yours, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Mayor Don’s Update - by Don Allen
By now, most of the Christmas tree lightings, parades and sleigh rides have happened this year and they were all wonderful. The weather cooperated and provided some snow and conditions not too cold and windy. The special aspect of these is how much the children enjoy them, with their looks of wonder, anticipation and happiness. Thank you to the many volunteers and donors who organize and make these events happen, including clean up afterward. Thank you to Springwater staff and firefighters and Simcoe County paramedics who work at these, conduct food and toy drives, sell Christmas trees and provide transportation for Santa and others during these events. Last but not least, thank you to the resident parents and children who support these events by being in parades, sometimes with floats, marching and in bands and for the observers, who cheer and bring donations of food and/or toys. It is what our communities are all about – bringing people together to celebrate and share fun.
Springwater Council Inauguration
Springwater’s Inaugural meeting on December 5, 2018 was a great event. As advertised, it was open to the public and about 185 people attended so we needed to move it to the Elmvale Community Centre to be able to hold the numbers. Thank you for the support of the dignitaries in attendance. Staff did a great job of preparing for this and all in attendance appeared to have a great time. I was very appreciative to have my daughter be able to sing a song for us, accompanied by a local guitar player.
First Springwater Council Meeting
The first regular meeting of the new council was on December 12th. We dealt with altering aspects of the agenda format and approving the appointment of council members to certain boards, committees and agencies. Other topics reviewed are described below.
Appointment of Integrity Commissioner
The Municipal Act requires, by March 1, 2019, that all municipalities appoint an Integrity Commissioner (IC), to ensure the creation of a code of a conduct for council and boards/committees, ethical behaviour procedures, rules and policies and conflict of interest rules. In mid-2017 County of Simcoe initiated a joint procurement process for the appointment of an IC in the most efficient and least costly manner. Principles Integrity was selected as the successful proponent. Council will consider this week whether Principles Integrity be appointed as the Integrity Commissioner for the Township of Springwater effective January 1, 2019. If the appointment is approved, Council will be scheduled for an education session with Principles Integrity regarding the adoption of a Code of Conduct in early 2019.
As the functions of the IC are broad and highly situational, the potential financial implications are difficult to estimate. At this time, staff have included a budget amount of $5,000 for IC services in 2019.
Private Retail Cannabis
An information report was presented to Council this week to inform and provide updated information related to legalized cannabis. Staff will be reporting back to Council in early January 2019 seeking a Township resolution related to “opting -in/-out” of private retail cannabis stores in Springwater. Further, Township staff have raised a number of items related to cannabis implementation that will require future consideration including: Commercial-scale production of cannabis, Municipal usage/consumption By-laws, Operation of private establishments serving as ‘cannabis lounges’ and other aspects.
On October 17, 2018 cannabis was legalized initially online through the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) website. Private cannabis retail stores will be permitted in Ontario after April 1, 2019 and those stores will be licensed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (ACGO).
Municipalities have a one-time opportunity to ‘opt out’ from allowing private retail cannabis stores (commercial sales of cannabis) to be located within their municipal boundaries. A resolution passed by Council to ‘opt out’ is required no later than January 22, 2019. If a municipality does not ‘opt-out’ by the January 22, 2019 deadline, they will not be able to ‘opt out’ at a later date.
The AGCO will keep a public list of municipalities that have ‘opted-out’ of hosting private retail cannabis stores and operators will not be able to propose store locations in those communities. In such instances, cannabis will continue to be legally available online to the public through the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS).
In municipalities that decide to ‘opt-in’ and accept the Province’s private retail model, the Province, through the Alcohol and Gaming Commission, will accept applications for private retail cannabis storefronts scheduled to open after April 1, 2019.
There will be a 15-day window for public and municipal comments for each store site proposed by an approved operator. Municipalities will need to their comments on whether the proposed store is in the “public interest”, defined as public health or safety, protecting youth and eliminating the illegal market.
A retail store may only be established and operated by a licensed retail operator, as issued by the Province. The retail store must be enclosed by walls separating it from any other commercial establishment, activity or outdoor area. The retail store may not be entered from or passed through in order to access any other commercial establishment or activity, other than a common area of an enclosed shopping mall. In addition, the premises at which the cannabis is received or stored may not be accessible to any other commercial establishment, activity, or to the public. A cannabis retail store may not be located within 150 metres (492 feet) of a school or school property, or within 150 metres (492 feet) of the boundary of any space occupied by a school within a building. Applicants will be permitted up to seventy-five (75) retail store authorizations.
Retail cannabis stores may be open to the public between 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. on any day. The stores may sell cannabis accessories like rolling papers or wraps, holders, pipes, water pipes, bongs and vaporizers. The retail store must display the cannabis retail seal in a conspicuous place that is visible from the exterior of the public entrance. The holder of the retail store is responsible for ensuring no individual who appears to be under 25 years of age to enter the retail store unless the holder of the store or employee has required the individual to provide a form of identification, or the holder or employee is satisfied that the individual is at least 19 years of age.
The Province has allocated a total of $40 million to the Ontario Cannabis Legalization Implementation Fund (OCLIF), to assist municipalities with the implementation costs of recreational cannabis legalization. Basic funding is to be provided to all municipalities regardless of their opt-in/opt-out status starting in early January 2019. A second follow up payment will be provided to municipalities and adjusted on a per capita basis to municipalities which have ‘opted-in’. The Township received an allocation notice from the Province indicating the Township of Springwater will receive a total of $9,940 for the first payment in January 2019. Following the first payment, a second payment is planned to be distributed by March 2019. For municipalities which have opted-in, the secondary payment will mirror the first payment. Additionally, if Ontario’s portion of the federal excise duty on recreational cannabis exceeds $100 million over the first two years, the Province will provide 50 per cent of the surplus to municipalities that have not opted-out.
Municipalities must use the funding to address costs directly related to the legalization of recreational cannabis. Examples of permitted costs includes increased enforcement, increased response to public inquiries, increased fire services, By-law/policy development etc. Municipalities’ may not use the money for costs that will be funded/reimbursed by any other government body or third party and may not use the funding for costs unrelated to cannabis legalization.
County Simcoe Inaugural meeting occurred this week. Council elected Mayor George Cornell of Tiny as the Warden and Deputy Mayor Barry Burton of Clearview as Deputy Warden. The Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the business sections has been determined. Each of these positions will be for a two-year term.
Performance Management Chair Don Allen; Vice Chair Harry Hughes
Human Services Chair Steffan Walma; Vice Chair Anita Dubeau
Corporate Services Chair Lynn Dollin; Vice Chair Richard Norcross
I have moved into an office in the Springwater administration building and would be glad to see you any time. Please call me to discuss matters or make an appointment if you want to meet. 705-728-4784 ext. 2040.
My wife Wanda and I extend our best wishes to all for a very Merry Christmas and a healthy happy New Year.
These are my thoughts and interpretations and not necessarily those of Council.
Prehearing on Teedon Pit expansion to resume next year
AWARE News Network
A Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) prehearing conference regarding an application by CRH Group Inc. to expand the Teedon Pit has been put over until mid-summer or possibly next fall at the request of the applicant, CRH Group Inc.
CRH lawyer Jonathan Kahn told LPAT panellist John Douglas that postponement for six months would allow for a consolidation of hearings into two matters that he said will rely on the same evidence.
The first issue, the subject of today’s prehearing at the Tiny Township municipal office, is an appeal by CRH under the Planning Act of the township’s failure to deal with its application to change the designation and zoning on property on the Simcoe Uplands Moraine to allow aggregate extraction.
The second is an application for a licence under the Aggregate Resources Act. Kahn said CRH will begin a mandatory 45-day consultation on the licence application in the new year. '
About 40 people were in attendance today, with several complaining they had not been served notice of the prehearing despite living within the 120 metres prescribed by the Planning Act and so had not had time to make necessary arrangements for involvement.
Douglas directed that further notice be given of the resumption of the prehearing, for which he set a provisional date of July 2, 2019.
He granted party status to the Federation of Tiny Township Shoreline Associations. Judith Grant, representing FoTTSA, said the group is considering hiring a lawyer for the proceedings.
Bonnie Pauze, a neighbour of the Teedon Pit, told Douglas she had not received notice of the prehearing despite being within 50 metres of the CRH property.
"My perfect water that I had since 1993 has become silt-laden since construction of a wash water plant and expansion of the aggregate pit," she told him.
She asked for approval as a participant with the option of becoming a party. She added that a new group is being formed, Friends of the Simcoe Moraine, that will seek incorporation and party status.
(Groups must be incorporated in order to be involved in the LPAT process, but individuals may speak for themselves.)
AWARE Simcoe was approved as a participant but chair Don Morgan indicated it might seek party status when the prehearing resumes. Several other groups and individuals were approved as participants, some also reserving the right to move to party status. Morgan also raised the issue of indigenous rights.
The Simcoe Uplands Moraine is the recharge area for an aquifer that has been shown to have the cleanest water ever tested. In 2009, the Anishinaabe Kweag joined with farmers, cottagers and residents to stop a landfill (Dump Site 41) from being built on top of this aquifer.
For more information go to www.aware-simcoe.ca
Canada — And The World — Abandon Green Energy Agenda
Wind and solar have become the fossils of the energy industry;
oil, gas and coal remain the fuels of the future
By Larry Solomon - Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s repeal of the Green Energy Act and balks by premiers of other Canadian provinces at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s climate agenda aren’t rearguard moves by Donald Trump wannabes. They are part of a worldwide trend rejecting renewables, rejecting climate change alarmism, and embracing coal and other fossil fuels. Renewables and the high electricity rates they ushered in drove individuals into energy poverty and led industry to flee, putting the lie to the claim that wind and solar are the fuels of the future. Wind and solar, rather, have become the fossils of the energy industry; oil, gas and coal remain the fuels of the future.
China was once the poster boy of the renewable energy industry — just a few months ago Bloomberg stated, “China’s investment in renewables is leaving the rest of the world in its wake” thanks to its subsidy-driven growth. Now China has begun to throw in the towel by cutting subsidies to renewables, an augur of the demise of investment in its renewables sector. With the cutting of subsidies to renewables in the EU, investment last year dropped to less than half of its peak six years earlier. Japan’s investment halved in just three years.
While China is pulling back from renewables, it’s plunging into coal. According to a BBC report this week, China is boosting its reliance on coal by 25 per cent through construction of hundreds of new coal-fired generating plants. Once completed, its incremental coal capacity will be equivalent to that of the entire U.S. coal fleet. Coal aside, China this year will become the world’s largest importer of natural gas, both via pipeline (up by over 20 per cent) and by ship (up over 50 per cent). It is already the world’s largest importer of coal and oil.
Germany, another renewable-energy poster child, is following the same unwinding, cutting subsidies to wind developers while upping gas imports and local coal. To extract that coal, Germany has decided to expand an existing open-pit coal mine, Europe’s largest, by subsidizing the razing of a 12,000-year-old forest. To round out Germany’s retreat from the demands of the country’s green lobby, it is relaxing regulations that would have required automakers to produce low-CO2-emitting vehicles.
Japan plans to remove its modest renewables subsidies while aggressively expanding fossil fuels — it is adding 40 coal stations to its existing 100. The U.K. is likewise turning from renewables, where investment is expected to decrease by 95 per cent by 2020, in favour of the development of the country’s immense shale-gas resources. And Australia is ending its renewables subsidy program altogether by 2020, giving its abundant coal resources a major lift.
The most consequential change of all, however, occurred in the United States, where the Democratic Party — adherents to the global warming orthodoxy — first lost control of the Congress and then the presidency to the Republicans under President Donald Trump, an outspoken critic of the global-warming lobby. When Trump abandoned the Paris climate accord in favour of coal and other carbon-based fuels, the world’s leaders rose up almost as one in outrage. Today, with the U.S. having revived its coal industry, having become the world’s largest oil producer and having propelled its once-moribund economic growth rates past the others, those world leaders are following America’s lead while falling silent on Paris. The once-powerful United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, formerly a fixture in the news, is defanged and forgotten, having lost its U.S. funding and its relevance.
The decline of government funding for renewables follows years of public opinion polls that consistently show the public isn’t much fussed about climate change. Governments finally got the message that the green lobby wasn’t all-powerful. The most timid, least principled players in society — the corporate sector — may be next in showing some spine on the climate change file. According to an internal memo leaked earlier this month, BusinessEurope, the EU’s largest employer association, intends to counter EU plans to tighten carbon-dioxide emissions at their expense, albeit ever so mutedly. If it carries through with its plans and actually dares to publicly represent the interests of its members, it will be one more sign that environmental NGOs and their enablers — the mainstream media — have lost their power.
Politics, Corruption, and Human Rights in Honduras
Where does the Canadian Government Stand?
Since January 19, 2018, the Simcoe County Honduras Rights Monitor has been working non-stop to advocate for political prisoners’ release in Honduras. This fight has been an eye-opener, a task that we once thought was straightforward. Yet after 11 months we now understand the situation to be multi-layered and multi-faceted, one that is steeped in back-room politics, corruption, and the lack of regard for human rights across the board.
We have made some progress due to public outcry; 18 political prisoners have been freed, yet 4 original political prisoners remain and there have been other arrests. Journalists have been targeted; they have been harassed, murdered, missing, or expelled from Honduras. Protests have been marred with violence. The corrupt political situation, gang violence, lack of rule of law, poverty, and unemployment has forced Honduran individuals and families to flee the county in mass exodus toward the United States to seek asylum.
Here are the things we have uncovered:
We researched the illegal election of Juan Orlando Hernandez of November 26, 2017 and found that it was indeed an illegal election, and any person protesting or speaking out against it was imprisoned, teargassed, murdered, disappeared, or terrorized. This election was condemned by the Organization of American States (OAS), the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty Canada, and other international organizations around the world. Some demanded that a second election take place and produced documents outlining the facts. Other than Minister Freeland’s statement in December 2017 acknowledging the contested election and mentioning that human rights of the Honduran people be upheld, no firm statement from Canada condemning these conditions and this illegal election was made.
We found evidence that Edwin’s and others’ cases were fraught with irregularities that we do not condone in Canada. The arrests were improperly carried out, (no rights were read upon arrest; they were snatched away and taken to a military base and later prison, despite being civilians). The Canadian government has not taken a stand and has continued business as usual.
Political prisoners were detained with lack of evidence (to this day so-called evidence for all arrests have not been handed over). In Canada, Crown prosecutors must hand over evidence to lawyers. Canada remains silent.
The judicial procedure was carried out with lack of due process. Judge Claudio Aguilar who presided over Edwin and Raul’s cases (they were arrested at the same time and sent to La Tolva prison) refused to recuse himself; Aguilar had ordered an illegal raid on Edwin’s family home previously and under Honduran law (and Canadian law) a judge cannot preside over a case involving an individual twice. In Canada, the cases would be thrown out of court.
Charges were trumped up; detainees had a laundry list against them. There were and still are no lawyer-client privileges awarded; lawyers are only allowed a few minutes with their clients and under heavy surveillance. Still no evidence was produced. Again, in Canada, the cases would be thrown out of court.
Edwin and other political prisoners are held in pre-trial detention, a period that can last up to 2.5 years. We found that in Honduran prisons, over 60% of the prison population is being held in pre-trial detention. Canada remains silent.
Political prisoners are held in newly built US owned-maximum security prisons which do not allow for family visits unless permits are purchased at ($150 US) for each family. Those few who can afford the passes are harassed and often denied visits. The prisons are in rural areas far from urban centers, making family visits difficult and expensive. Prisoners are denied medication if ill, food and water is of very poor quality and scant, and prisoners are sunlight deprived. This treatment violates international law and human rights. Canada remains silent.
The Hernandez government is wrought with corruption; it has been labeled as a narco-trafficking government. The brother of President Juan Orlando Hernandez – Antonio Hernandez – was arrested in Miami on November 23, 2018 for drug trafficking. Further arrests are pending in cases known as the ‘Pandora Case.’ The Canadian government funds social and judicial projects in Honduras and has done so for years. Canadian fiscal support continues despite lack of success in reforms and this blatant corruption. Is Canada complicit?
The Simcoe County Honduras Rights Monitor and its supporters want to know the answer to these questions.
Where does Canada stand on human rights in Honduras?
- Why does Canada remain silent on corruption and human rights violations in Honduras?
- Whose interests is the Canadian government serving?
As Canadians, we will not remain silent.