Political Opinions

JANUARY WARD FIVE COUNCILLOR REPORT

Budget deliberations will still be in progress in February with approval to follow. BILL 66:   The Province has agreed to eliminate Schedule 10 from Bill 66.  Schedule 10 would have eliminated the need for public consultation and protection of the environment, farmland, water, etc. Thank you to the public, environmental organizations, farm federations and those Municipalities that expressed opposition.

COUNCIL START TIMES:  On January 23, five members of Council supported a motion by Jennifer Coughlin to have staff generate a report on changing Council start times from 6:30pm to 5:30pm. Councillor Moore and I voted against the change. The start time prior to the 2014 election was 5:30pm. Resident’s asked for a later start so they could attend meetings. Efforts to reverse the time change was also attempted at the December 7th 2016 meeting of Council. There was a questionnaire generated at that time which was identified as being flawed. 

PLEASE watch the video of that meeting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4TlRqrF9dQ. The discussion starts at 2.25. The efforts to suggest that my statement at that time “if you are going to do this better do it after the 2018 election”  was supportive of the time change is misleading. Reverting back to the earlier time would indicate that facilitating attendance by residents, many of whom are commuters, is not a high priority for this council. 

If the time change is approved, it will be as result of the alliances of some members of this Council, not because it is in the best interest of residents.

Taxpayers need to speak up if they still want the 6:30 pm start. The report and decision is scheduled for February 20th.

If you cannot attend and are concerned about the time change impacting transparency and taxpayer’s ability to attend meetings, send an email to the Clerk. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Provide your name and address and ask to have your submission included as correspondence. If you copy me, I will advance your concerns.

Attending Council meetings is a condition of employment for management staff. They receive time off in lieu, unless they start later in the morning.

SPRINGWATER FIRE SERVICE:  The current composition of our Fire service is four full-time management positions and approximately ninety dedicated volunteers.

The availability of firefighters to respond on weekdays, during the day, is a concern.  There is a request in the budget for funding to start hiring fulltime firefighters. This and other initiatives may be considered during budget deliberations.

The commitment to public safety is without question. However, due diligence in knowing all the facts and alternatives before committing to any major funding initiative is a legislated responsibility of Council.

Our Fire Service needs more volunteers who are available to respond during the day. Please consider joining this devoted team. Taxpayer and Firefighter input is encouraged. 

FAMILY DAY MONDAY FEBRUARY 18th:   The Midhurst Hall Board Volunteers are not planning anything this year. However, the new Midhurst pavilion is open for public skating if others wish to organize a community event.

IMPORTANT DATES: Regular Council Meetings are Wednesdays; February 6th and 20th at 6:30pm.

For other committee meeting dates go to: www.springwater.ca  All meetings are open to the public. 

CONSTITUENT BCC EMAIL LIST:  If you wish to receive my updates or contact me, send me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. My news articles and emails are part of my commitment to keeping taxpayers informed in a truthful, accurate and timely manner.  I do not speak for the rest of Council.   

 Happy Valentines.   

Jack Hanna   Ward 5 Councillor     Township of Springwater       

 

George Watson of Wasaga Beach to lead NVCA Board of Directors in 2019

UTOPIA, Ontario (January 28, 2019) – George Watson, Councillor for the Town of Wasaga Beach, will lead the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority board of directors in 2019.

Watson, now in his fourth term with Wasaga Beach, was elected chair of the board at the NVCA’s 59th Annual General Meeting on January 25, 2019.

“I look forward to working with the incoming NVCA board of directors,” said Watson. “As we go forward in this new term, our challenge will be to find the balance between development and the environment that best serves our residents and our watershed.”

Keith White, Councillor for the Township of Essa, was acclaimed as vice chair. White has sat on the board for eight years, including serving as vice and second vice chair

“I am proud of the accomplishments of both the NVCA board and staff over the past year,” said White. “Echoing many of my new board colleagues, our role will be to use our conservation ‘good judgement’ to address issues of growth and development across the watershed.”

Donna Jebb, Councillor for the Town of New Tecumseth, was elected as second-vice chair. Jebb is starting her third term on the NVCA board.

Twelve new members appointed by their municipalities joined the board at the meeting. A total of 18 members sit on the NVCA board, representing watershed municipalities in Simcoe, Grey and Dufferin counties.

The board governs the authority, a public agency dedicated to protecting, enhancing and restoring the Nottawasaga Valley watershed to support a healthy environment, communities and lifestyles.

 

Mayor Don’s Update - by Don Allen

Ontario Bill 66 Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act

The Ontario Provincial Government last December introduced Bill 66 – the proposed Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018. Included in the legislation in its Schedule 10, were proposed changes to the Planning Act that would create a new economic development tool, through an open-for-business planning by-law. After much reaction from different individuals and interest groups, the Government listened to the concerns raised by MPP’s, municipalities and stakeholders with regards to Schedule 10 of Bill 66, and when the legislature returns in February, they will not proceed with Schedule 10 of the Bill.

Springwater 2019 Draft Budget

Springwater Council continues to review in detail the draft budget in meetings that have been open to the public. It is anticipated that Council will be ready to approve the 2019 budget on February 20, 2019.

Off-road vehicles on Municipal Highways

The use of an off-road vehicle is governed by the Highway Traffic Act. Operation of an off-road vehicle is generally prohibited and shall not be driven on any highway except if a municipal by-law establishes where and when they can be driven. Off-road vehicles are currently permitted on certain Springwater municipal highways under an agreement with the Central Ontario ATV Club (COATV). These municipal highways are links that connect County of Simcoe Forest Tracts, North Simcoe Rail Trail and unopened road allowances to create and an off-road vehicle trail system. Springwater highways that are currently approved for off-road vehicles are: Flos Road Three West – North Simcoe Rail Trail west to Phelpston Tract; Flos Road Four West – North Simcoe Rail Trail west to Vigo Road; Vigo Road – Flos Road Four West north to Flos Road Six West; and Flos Road Six West – Vigo Road to Ryther Road (Wasaga Beach).

The COATV submitted an application to the Springwater in April 2018 to expand the current motorized trail system in order to make connections with other neighbouring municipalities to Springwater. The current approved COATV trails in Springwater do connect to the east end of the Town of Wasaga Beach where off-road vehicles are permitted on all municipal highways. This application is to create connections to the Township of Oro-Medonte, Township of Clearview, Township of Tiny and a second connection to the Town of Wasaga Beach. The neighbouring municipalities, except Tiny, have by-laws in place that permit the use of off-road vehicles on municipal highways. The Township of Tiny has granted approval for the use of off-road vehicles on certain highways for a COATV trail, subject to obtaining a connection from Springwater along Baseline Road. COATV has also requested consideration to permitting the use of off-road vehicles on all Springwater municipal highways.

The use of off-road vehicles continues to rapidly grow, and more municipalities are permitting their use on local highways. Staff recommended to Council this week that a public consultation process be undertaken and that two public open houses be held to obtain input from Springwater Residents as to whether they support or do not support the use of off-road vehicles on Springwater Highways. The proposed dates are March 27th, Elmvale Community Hall and March 28th, Springwater Administration Centre. If these are approved, the dates of the events will be confirmed through various forms of media.

Free Edwin Espinal

No doubt the well attended January 27th public meeting marking one year since the unjust imprisonment of Edwin in a Honduras prison will be covered elsewhere in this edition.  I was glad to battle the snow to attend and say a short message, along with the other well-informed speakers at this event. Pressure must be re-doubled on the Canadian Government to act on this, to put pressure on the Honduras Government for Edwin’s release. Please see more at   

https://simcoecountyhondurasrightsmonitor.wordpress.com/ and sign the online e-petition before it closes end of day February 7, 2019.

Simcoe County Updates

Additional Yard Waste Pick Up

Two extra yard waste collections will occur by the County of Simcoe starting this summer to provide additional levels of service in urban areas and partially address the Invasive Phragmites in shoreline areas. The estimated cost for this is $200,000.

Timber sale

Timber sales in Simcoe County forests encompass approximately 600 to 700 hectares annually, which is generally divided into 25 to 40 individual sales. All operations are conducted in accordance with the approved 20-year Forest Management Plan. The competitive bidding process resulted in total revenues for timber sales in 2018 of $2,074,223, exceeding the original budget estimate of $1,500,000. All revenues are applied to the Forestry Reserve which is reinvested into forestry operations and the acquisition of additional forest lands.

Provincial Regional Government Review

On January 15, 2019 the Provincial Government announced that it is moving ahead with a review of regional government by appointing two special advisors. The regional government model has been in place for almost 50 years in Ontario and the Province is taking steps to ensure that regional governments are working efficiently and effectively. These advisors will consult broadly over the coming months and provide recommendations to improve governance, decision-making and service delivery. The review will examine Ontario’s eight regional municipalities plus the County of Simcoe (upper-tier) and its lower-tier municipalities, of which Springwater is one.

The advisors will work to explore:

-  Opportunities to make it easier for residents and businesses to access municipal services;

-  Processes to deliver efficient and effective local services that respects taxpayers’ money;

-  Methods to make municipalities open for business; and,

-  Possibilities to cut red tape and duplication and save costs.

To facilitate a productive and open conversation, the Provincial advisors will be coming to Simcoe County on February 19th to have in-person meetings with each of the Mayors individually. They are seeking feedback by posing the following questions:

  1. What reforms would you recommend to promote better representation and decision making? (would it be better to move to a single-tier municipality or amalgamating existing municipalities? If two-tier continues, should number of representatives on the upper-tier municipality be reduced or should they be appointed or elected differently?)
  2. What reforms do you recommend to improve the quality and/or reduce the cost of overlap of lower-tier and upper tier municipal services? For example, should there be greater rationalization and more specific assignments of responsibility in such functional areas as: land-use planning; water, wastewater and storm water; public transit; health, housing and social services (public health, long-term care, hospital capital fundraising, social housing); etc.? Are there municipal special purpose bodies that should be considered as part of the review (e.g., conservation authorities, police service boards, library boards, health units (where separated), etc.)?
    3.  Where do you see your upper-tier and lower-tier municipality two years from now?

I am looking for input from Council before my February 19th meeting. If you have any comments, please email me (below) or write me a note regarding your thoughts on this.

Happy Valentine’s Day and have a great Family Day on February 18th. Check out the Springwater Link for winter fun activities occurring in February.

Contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 705-728-4784 ext. 2013 to set a time to meet. Also, review updates on www.donallen.ca. Stay warm and healthy.

 

Alex Nuttall MP Barrie Springwater Oro-Medonte

OTTAWA, ON – Today, M.P. Alex Nuttall was promoted to Shadow Minister for Internal Trade.

 Prior to this M.P. Nuttall was Shadow Minister for Youth, Sports, and Persons with Disabilities.

 “I am very pleased that Alex has agreed to serve as the Conservative Shadow Minister for Internal Trade.  I know that he will do an excellent job holding the Liberals’ feet to the fire and pushing them to take meaningful action to reduce trade barriers”, said Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer.

 “Part of me is sad that I’m leaving the Youth, Sport and Persons with Disabilities file, we did incredible work with Minister Qualtrough getting Bill C-81 passed through the House of Commons. However, it is an incredible honour to be entrusted with this new portfolio. Internal trade impacts Canadians every day, and as we saw with the 2017 Canada Free Trade Act, this file has been totally mismanaged by the Liberals”, said M.P. Nuttall.

 “When it comes to internal trade barriers, it’s a no brainer, there should be no barriers whatsoever. The current agreement (that entered into force on July 1st, 2017) is a complete betrayal of the principals on which our Confederation is built. If the conservatives had  managed the 2017 negotiations the document would consist of one sentence on one sheet of paper, saying “Canada is a tariff free zone”, and this document would get signed by every single Premier and territorial leader”, added M.P. Nuttall.

 Section 121 of our 1867 Constitution clearly states that goods must be “admitted free” as they move from one province to another. There are hundreds of items under the so-called “Canada Free Trade Act” that still have tariffs charged when crossing provincial borders.

 Right now, it is easier for a winery in BC to directly sell into Asia than it is to sell in Ontario. These outdated policies are absurd, and they need to end. The Conservative party simply wants to open our internal economy for all Canadian producers of other products.

 As president Trump continues to levy tariffs against Canadian goods, and as Canada retaliates against American goods, there has never been a time where the elimination of tariffs and the creation of an absolute free trade zone from coast to coast to coast is so important.

Alex Nuttall MP

 

Doug Downey MPP Barrie, Springwater, Oro-Medonte

February is black history month, a time to celebrate and appreciate the contributions of the African-Canadian community to both the settlement and development of our Country. Simcoe County has an especially close tie to Black History Month through the African Methodist Episcopal Black Church in Oro-Medonte.

From 1819-1831 the government of Upper Canada sponsored the settlement of black people on Wilberforce St. near Concession 2 in Oro-Medonte. This was not the largest black settlement in Upper Canada, but it was the only one that was planned for and supported by the government. The settlement was established by veterans of the loyalist militia who defended the country from American invasion during the War of 1812. These black veterans and their families were the first permanent agricultural settlers in the area, and began the process of clearing and cultivating the land we know today as Oro-Medonte.

The settlement grew steadily as a second wave of black settlers began to arrive from the United States. As the community grew so did the infrastructure and economy. Land was cleared, houses were built, and roads were formed. All of this done in a strategic and valuable region where terrain was dense and the resident had to protect themselves from the threat of an American invasion through Georgian Bay.  

This accomplished community built the Oro-African Church in 1849 for Rev. Ari Raymond. It has survived a number of damages and renovations throughout the decades and was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 2000. The church and surrounding lands are a testament to the contributions of African-Canadians to the settlement and defence of Canada in the 19th century.

The history surrounding the Oro-African church is just one example of the many ways Black Canadians contributed to the founding and development of our nation. I urge you all to participate in Black History Month this year however you can. It can be as easy as reading about the history of Black Canadians, or attending the City of Barrie’s Evening with Digging Roots and Dione Taylor & The Backsliderz Concert. There are so many ways to explore this rich history, and no matter how you choose to participate, the experience is sure to enrich your life and further your understanding of how Canada came to be.

 

Bruce Stanton MP Simcoe North

In Support of Local Dairy Producers

Canadian Dairy Farmers have a critical, but challenging role in our economy and in providing our families with daily, basic foods.  After months of NAFTA renegotiation doubts, the government announced a new agreement; but many question and concerns for Canadian industries and farmers still remain.  The trade deal has yet to be ratified by the governments of Canada, Mexico and the United States, but “NAFTA2” may be worse for Canadian Dairy Farmers than NAFTA. It bears close watching as the agreement is ratified by the partner countries.

In particular the new deal concedes 3.59% of new market access to the United States.  The U.S., meanwhile, will continue to subsidize their dairy industry, leaving our milk producers at a potential disadvantage.  The Liberal government’s response is the creation of a new pan-Canadian committee to consult on the compensation package for dairy producers. It will be comprised of national and provincial associations representing milk producers. Yet again, dairy farmers are faced with more uncertainty as the government has no compensation program in place. In contrast, Conservatives committed to a $4.3 billion compensation program following free trade deals with Europe and the TPP.

The second challenge recently for Canada’s food suppliers recently was a revamping of the Canada Food Guide which demoted the importance of dairy and meat products. Gone in the new guide are the four traditional food groups. They have been replaced by a dinner plate graphic showing fruits and vegetables on half, a quarter reserved for protein foods and the other quarter for whole grains.  The guide also advises people to choose protein foods that come from plants more often and to make water your drink choice.  While it is good to update consumer information based on changing habits and lifestyles, most Canadians already know the importance of eating a balanced diet and getting adequate exercise. 

Speaking broadly, the new Canada Food Guide seems to have found public support. There are some experts concerned that its recommendations are impractical and expensive for rural and remote community families.  Some critics point out that the Guide ignores a growing body of evidence that shows the importance of dairy and meat in a healthy diet.  Canada’s milk producers want certainty and support.  That’s why I will continue to stand up for dairy farmers and call for the support that they need.

Sincerely,

Bruce Stanton, M.P. Simcoe North

 

Supporting Political Prisoners: One year in US-style Torture Centres in Honduras – Part 1

By Karen Spring in Tegucigalpa

One year ago, I made the trip for the first time to the military-run, maximum-security prison known as La Tolva, located in southeastern Honduras. I thought it would be pretty simple to drop off food and clothes for Edwin.

Arrested on January 19, 2018, Edwin was immediately sent the following day (January 20) to La Tolva by Judge Claudio Aguilar of the national jurisdiction court system on request from the Public Prosecutor’s office. Raul Alvarez, the other political prisoner from Tegucigalpa, was sent to La Tolva a few days before Edwin.

US-Style Maximum-Security Torture Centers

Very quickly after my first trip to La Tolva, I would come to realize that La Tolva is not at all a jail. As Honduran human rights organization COFADEH first called it, La Tolva is a torture centre. It is a torture centre where the Honduran government sends people (many of whom have not been found guilty or gone to trial such is the case with Edwin and Raul) to psychologically, emotionally and physically torture them and their family members who attempt to visit and care for them while incarcerated.

The two maximum-security torture centres - La Tolva and El Pozo (known as ‘El Pozo II’) jails look like they were physically picked up from some location in the US and dropped down in Honduras. They are large, cement compounds, complete with three layers of security decked out with modern equipment and infrastructure. They were built by the Juan Orlando Hernandez regime to allegedly house the most dangerous criminals in the country.

I have too many examples of why these jails are torture centres and how prison authorities and the Honduran government go out of their way to create a hell that is hard to imagine for those that have never been in these jails or don’t have family members imprisoned there. The Honduran government and media even brag about the ‘hell’ of these jails in a sociopathic manner that perpetuates further exclusion and isolation of an already marginalized and stigmatized population in the country.

When a riot occurs there, when inmates are killed or disappeared, when family members denounce the poor conditions, the health crises, the abuses, prison authorities are often quick to lie and give a version to the Honduran media that is far from the truth.  With such little access provided to outside human rights organizations and attorneys, it is extremely difficult to tell a different and truthful version of what really occurs inside these torture centres.

What the Conditions are Like in La Tolva:

  • Prisoners have access to running water for 3 hours/day
  • Prisoners receive 2 hours of sunlight per month
  • There is no telephone communication and no letters are allowed in or out of the jail.
  • No pens, books, or paper are allowed in the prison
  • 9 men share a cell and one toilet (with no walls for privacy and that are difficult to flush and keep clean considering significant water shortages)
  • Prisoners are sporadically given purified water in bags (~400 ml), sometimes only one bag/day.
  • Food portions are insufficient and are cut when prison authorities want to punish the population.

Prisoners’ Contact with the Outside World

  • Family visits are permitted one day per week after each family member hands in the following paperwork to prison authorities then waits for that paperwork to be ‘processed’ and then sent to the INP. This can take up to 1-3 months and costs approximately $100 USD. What do families have to submit to be authorized to visit?

◦         3 photos taken in studio, 3 personal references, a proof of address given in a formal document by the municipality; police background check; criminal background check; and a copy in color of photo ID.

  • Conjugal visit for 40 minutes every two weeks. Partners of inmates must apply for these visits handing in the following paperwork AFTER they apply for regular prison visit authorization:

◦         a Pap smear, syphilis test, HIV test, full blood exam, a doctor’s letter saying one is in good health; a ‘health card’ certifying that one is not contagious; 3 colour photos taken in a studio; a colour copy of photo ID.

  • The detainees’ lawyers are only allowed to speak with them for 10 minutes with their clients and all conversations take place in front of two prison guards – one behind the lawyer and the other behind the inmate.

In order to hand all this paperwork in, families must travel to the front gate of the prison where only ONE designated person receives them. This one person must walk back and forth from the administrative offices all day. This is a highly inefficient system that requires family members to stand outside in the hot sun with no shade, no bathroom, nowhere to buy water or food, nowhere to sit except on the hot pavement, for hours.

Changing Prison Culture in Honduras

In La Tolva, it is really difficult if not impossible for national and international human rights organizations to enter and verify prison conditions. This gives prison authorities even more power and ability to hide or distort the reality of what does or does not occur inside these jails. 

In normal Honduran jails and as per Honduran culture, dropping food, clothes and other basic necessities at the jails for family members has been the norm for years. With the construction of US-style prisons in Honduras, this has changed. Now, nothing can be dropped off at the gates of the prison without prison authorities telling you what (medical prescriptions prescribed by the prison doctor; water; the type and quantity of clothing down to the exact color, neck yoke line, style, etc). For so many poor Honduran families, providing these items down to the specificities required by the National Penitentiary Institute (INP) and the prison is impossible and very expensive.

The majority of Honduran prisoners in these torture centres are poor people. The rich and corrupt, like all of those accused in the 8 corruption cases presented by the internationally-financed anti-corruption body, the MACCIH, are either conditionally released; on house arrest; or are jailed inside VIP rooms or jail cells in the non-US-style Tamara prison, outside of Tegucigalpa.

Sending Edwin and Raul – two people of thousands of Honduras that protested the 2017 electoral fraud – to La Tolva is the harshest, most inhumane punishment imposed by the Juan Orlando Hernandez regime against members of the opposition. The complacency of the Public Prosecutor’s office and the justice system is cruel, unjust, and once again, an illustration of the unequal form in which the law is manipulatively applied in Honduras.

To be continued in the next issue of the Springwater News.

Read Karen’s blog at www.aquiabajo.com/blog. Go to Simcoe County Honduras Rights Monitor online for more information.

 

Canadian Government Urged to Act on Espinal Case

The wife of a political prisoner detained in Honduras, speaking by Skype to a meeting in her home town in rural Ontario, today called on the Canadian government for help in her efforts to free her husband. It’s been a year since Karen Spring’s husband Edwin Espinal, a human rights activist, was arrested on trumped-up charges in the wake of protests against the fraudulent 2017 elections that kept President Juan Orlando Hernandez in power.

With her image projected on a wall of the Elmvale community hall, Spring told of the harsh conditions under which Espinal is being held in a military prison two hours from her home in Tegucigalpa, how a painful ear infection left untreated for a month has caused him to lose the hearing in one ear, and how she has had to fight to get to visit him, which is the only way she can find out anything about him as communication by phone or letter or through prison authorities is not allowed.

“Since we were married on October 18 last year, I’ve been only able to see him for six hours,” she said.

Spring said she is working with lawyers as there may be an announcement soon of a hearing to be held in her husband’s case. It will determine whether the case will be thrown out or go forward. “We are basically preparing for a show trial,” she said, because of the politicized nature of the Honduran court system. “Today is important, not only because you’re there,” she told the January 27 gathering of about 90 people, adding that she draws strength from their support. “It’s the one-year anniversary of the inauguration of the president and Hondurans all over the country are taking to the streets today in protest.” It’s time the Canadian government stop backing the Hernandez regime, she said.

Karen’s mother Janet, just returned from a trip to Honduras, decried ‘horrific” conditions in the La Tolva jail – so horrific that the Canadian embassy representative who visited Espinal there last week fainted after coming out of the module where he is being held. “Prisoners are not being treated as human beings,” Janet Spring said.

“Our Canadian government is complicit in this because they have not called out the Hernandez regime for these violations of human rights,” Janet said. The Canadian embassy has made two token visits to the prison, she said, but has not spoken out against Espinal’s treatment. Janet Spring added: “We all expect our Canadian government to support us and our family members, to rally for us when there are problems, to uphold human rights and take a stand when we need help, but the Canadian government has done none of this.”

John Spring –Karen’s father – referred to a recent international intervention by Canada, the safe haven offered to 18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, who has no Canadian connection.  “Why do you think that a Saudi girl gets the attention of our Prime Minister, our Foreign Affairs Minister but yet Jan has been down to Ottawa six times in the past year and the best we’ve been able to do is get to one of (Chrystia) Freeland’s top aides?” Spring asked. He directed the question to Progressive Conservative MPP Doug Downey, one of the invited speakers. Freeland’s actions were “odd on several levels,” Downey replied. “I don’t have a straight answer for you.” Downey said he has an understanding of the family’s case through the work of Simcoe North MP Bruce Stanton, and he intends to do what he can to help if intervention at the provincial level is possible.

Stanton was unable to attend and sent a statement that was read out. MP Alex Nuttall, who has sponsored a House of Commons petition, did not make the meeting either. He has sponsored an e-petition https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-1868 that people are urged to sign before it closes Feb. 7 2019.

Those speakers that did attend despite snow squalls that reduced visibility and made driving a challenge were Grahame Russell of Rights Action, Springwater Mayor Don Allen, and Councillor Perry Ritchie.

Grahame Russell of Rights Action, also recently returned from Honduras. He warned that Espinal, who has been placed in a military jail to be made an example of to deter others from opposing the government, is at serious risk of being attacked or killed. The government could decide that it’s had enough of the attention being paid to him, there would be “another riot in the jail like there was already, then all a sudden it will come out in the news that someone like Edwin was caught in the crossfire of a riot between prisoners and we couldn’t do anything about it.”

The Canadian government’s support for the corrupt and repressive Hernandez regime is rooted in economic interests, Russell said – backing the activities of Canadian mining, tourism and manufacturing companies that take advantage of rich land vacated by forced evictions, permissive environmental laws and cheap labour. 

He added that the Canadian media never writes about Canada’s role in Central America – with one shining exception: “There’s this young journalist publishing in Collingwood Today that is the best media in Canada about what’s going on in Honduras. That’s a problem. That’s not just a ‘oops, we missed the story,’ that’s a problem, and our media is playing a certain role in promoting and not critically looking at Canadian foreign policy.”

Springwater Mayor Don Allen said that last year, after Springwater council voted to support the Spring family’s efforts to free Espinal, he contacted the Honduran Ambassador to Canada, Sofia Cerrato Rodriguez, “and tried to have a constructive dialogue. But there was no meaningful response.” Allen conveyed support from Simcoe County Warden George Cornell and promised that the new Springwater council as well as county council will revisit the matter.

Springwater Councillor Perry Ritchie called on all to get involved. “This year is a federal election,” he said. “This is your chance to speak.”

The Simcoe County Honduras Rights Monitor and Spring family thank community members who attended the January 27th meeting. They also thank the community at large that makes regular inquires as to Karen and Edwin’s health and safety in Honduras and who continue to support the campaign to free Edwin and other political prisoners.

Kate Harries

Simcoe County Honduras Rights Monitor