Political Opinions

Mayor Don’s Update - by Don Allen

I just finished seeing the highlights of Tiger Woods winning his fifth Masters tournament and his first major tournament victory in 11 years. What an example of grit and determination to come back from adversity and injury in his life to win this prestigious event amongst a field of very accomplished competitors. What inspiration.

Off-Road Vehicle Open House

We held two well-attended open house public meetings in March to receive input on the potential of expanding the township trails and roads that off-road vehicles can travel on. We have received hundreds of surveys, online and by hard copy. These need to be completed by  April 23rd by going onto   http://www.springwater.ca/cms/one.aspx?pageId=13880263, where there is more information and the online survey form. Alternatively, hard copies of the surveys are available at the township office or at Springwater libraries and can be completed and submitted there. Your feedback is important and will be carefully considered as part of a staff report for review and consideration by Council in May.

Springwater Public Library

The Springwater Public Library’s Annual Ladies Night Out Fundraiser was held on April 13th at the Midhurst Community Hall. Tickets were sold out well before the event, and the community provided donations of silent auction items as well as clothing for the thrifting portion of the evening. Many volunteers donated hours of time behind the scenes and local businesses provided manicures, hair styling, make-up, massages, and a photo booth. Approximately $10,000 was raised for library programs, new furniture, technology, and collection items. Attendees enjoyed an evening of thrifting and pampering. Thank you to the Springwater Community for their support of the Library.

Town Hall Meetings

We held our first Town Hall this year in Midhurst on April 15th. Town Halls are part of Council’s commitment to keeping residents informed of current developments. We will be rotating these around different Springwater communities in future. Members of Council and senior staff were in attendance to provide updates and information on current projects, including: Midhurst Environmental Assessment; the Community hub; the capital program for Midhurst, Midhurst Cemetery Revitalization Project and Regional government review. Attendance was good and the questions and discussion were lively and informative. Thanks for coming out.

Volunteer Appreciation

To celebrate National Volunteer Week in April, the Township held a Volunteer Appreciation dinner, to recognize over 150 registered volunteers who regularly volunteer time for such things as sitting on municipal committees/boards or participating on community recreation associations or organizing and running Township outdoor rinks. Springwater is a community built by volunteers and it’s important that we promote and recognize volunteerism. The theme this year was the “Volunteer Factor”, emphasizing how volunteers uplift communities. In addition, there are many other volunteer groups in Springwater that deserve thanks and appreciation so please take time to express thanks to the people who contribute greatly.

Springwater Swing

Save the date June 12, 2019 for the Springwater Swing charity golf tournament at Orr Lake Golf Club. Proceeds will benefit the Community Assistance Program, physician recruitment and other worthwhile local initiatives. Register and see sponsorship opportunities at springwater.ca/springwaterswing. It starts with a 1pm shotgun and the $150 registration fee includes, lunch, golf, cart, dinner and a gift. 

Elmvale and District Food Bank

Council continues to work with the Food Bank to construct in 2019 an approved new facility to meet the ongoing increasing demand for their services. The current location in Elmvale does not meet storage, privacy and operational needs for the staff and their clients. The proposed 3,000 sq. ft. facility at 62 Yonge Street North will include a waiting/reception area, washroom, interview room for clients, staff room, food preparation/packing room, cold storage and a warehouse area. The facility will be constructed with a large shipping/receiving door with a sloped ramp to allow for off-loading. There will also be the possibility for other uses and partnerships in this new facility.

Code of ConductSpringwater Council approved the Code of Conduct for members of Council, committees and boards, as required by new Provincial legislation effective March 1, 2019. The code serves to outline a shared understanding of acceptable conduct among Council members when serving our constituents and the public. The code sets specific rules and guiding principles, covering topics from conflicts of interest and confidential information to the improper use of influence and business relations. The code also outlines a process of reviewing contraventions of the code by members, if they arise, with the Township’s Integrity Commissioner so that matters can be dealt with in an appropriate, professional manner. This is not restrictive – it provides a good standard by which to operate and is very common in professional organizations.

New Springwater Website

The Township of Springwater launched a new municipal website today (April 16). Using the same address of www.springwater.ca, it is designed to be cleaner, easier to navigate, responsive and accessible.

The website has a number of new features such as the ability to:

Report an online concern

Submit a community event to the calendar

Subscribe to receive email updates on news categories and calendar items, including career opportunities, open bids and tenders, road closures, media releases and more

We encourage everyone to visit the new site often to stay up-to-date with what is happening in the municipality. We welcome feedback from users on what they like about the new site and what improvements could still be made.

Upcoming Events

Come join the fun at these upcoming Springwater events:

Midhurst Pharmasave Easter Egg Hunt – April 19th 10:00AM Lions Park Midhurst (corner Doran & Vernar) – Jenna or Carolyn at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Anten Mills Eggstravaganza – April 20th 10:00am to noon – Anten Mills Community Hall

Elmvale District High School – New Addition Official Opening festivities – April 26th 5pm

Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival – April 27th  - community entertainment, vendors, crafts, sugar bush tours, pancake house, Township sponsors maple taffy booth. Cheer me on in the log-sawing contest.

The comments here reflect my perspective and do not necessarily represent those of the whole of Council.

Check out my recent radio interview reviewing current Springwater news items with Rock95 and 107.5 KOOL FM news director Dan Blakeley. See https://barrie360.com/springwater-update/

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 or reach me directly at 705-302-4253. We can also stay connected on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @MayorDonAllen and review updates on www.donallen.ca.

 

Dan Janssen to carry NDP banner in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte

BARRIE – Dan Janssen has been selected as the federal NDP candidate for the riding of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte. Janssen, a local community activist and union leader, was acclaimed during an enthusiastic meeting of party members and supporters on Tuesday evening.

“Canada’s NDP has a proud history of fighting for everyday Canadians. New Democrats brought our great nation universal healthcare, public pensions and the expansion of Canada’s social safety net,” Janssen said. “I’m proud to be standing on the shoulders of giants like Tommy Douglas and Jack Layton, and I’m ready to stand shoulder to shoulder with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh to bring an NDP government to Canadians this fall.”

The NDP has already started to unveil pieces of its bold election platform, including: truly universal pharmacare;

a plan to fix our unfair system of taxation;

a commitment to build 500,000 new affordable housing units and make it easier for people to purchase or rent a home;

going after cellphone companies to reduce prices;

a ban on single-use plastics; and,

a just transition to a green economy.

“The victims of our rigged system need a voice, and the NDP is here to give them that voice,” said Mike Speers, riding association president. “In Barrie-Springwater-Oro Medonte, the campaign starts right here, right now; it starts with the nomination of a candidate who is going to hold the NDP banner high with pride and be that voice for hard-working people.”

“I’m not only looking forward to listening to the concerns of people in our community, I’m looking forward to working together to offer solutions – solutions that will make life better for people in our community and across the country,” said Janssen. “It’s time to elect an NDP member of Parliament right here in this riding. Together, we can make history.  Together, we have the power to change our community and our country.”

For more on the NDP plan for Canadians, visit www.ndp.ca

 

“…and then I took off my boots”

Water Column  By Erin Archer

Up until that moment it had been a regular Friday, mine might look a bit different then yours. My “regular” now consists of getting my family out the door then heading to Georgian Bay to sit in silent reflection with the Water before heading to the Teedon pit gates…

I pull up to find Vicki Monague snuggled in her lawn chair; ribbon skirt, staff, blanket filled with many offerings. I have brought water from the Flow. She pours it into her copper vessel and thanks is given. We exchange stories of the past week; updates. A beautiful journal now lies upon her blanket. Hopes that people will add their names and stories here. I take the water and I pour an uninterrupted line across the driveway, “as the trucks roll in, the water and our loving intentions will be carried with them”. It has become tradition.

           Sema down

                  Prayers up

Quietly she asks me, “What does your Spirit Eye see?” Then everything changed. Guided by Spirit, Vicki walks me to the gate. With tear filled eyes I step off the pavement and on to the sand and gravel: our Mothers flesh. “Erin, what do you see?” “I just want to cry” I say. I take off my mitts, empty my pockets, and undo my coat to reveal my heart. I take off my boots and socks, guided by intuition and drawn to connect. We stand there side by side. I close my eyes, I hear the birds singing, I feel the wind against my skin, my toes sink deep into the damp earth.

              We are one

Although it is a gray day, the light behind my closed eyes shines brightly. The Creator saying, “I am here, I SEE you”. The trees swaying in the wind send a gentle creak through the air. Our Mother tells us, Creation is still doing its job. Beings going about their purpose; providing oxygen and nesting grounds, hunting and gathering, producing and sustaining life.

               Don’t give up

I open my eyes and am brought back to sights of men dressed in black vests and caps, transports coming and going, bulldozers clearing new paths and monstrous conveyor belts brought in as they ramp up production. “Erin, do you see the beam of light and the dome that lies over the pit?”

               I look with my third eye…yes

Without words, we break into rhythmical alternate breathing. Drawing energy from the Earths center through our Root and expelling it through our Hearts

              In and out

                   In and out

                        In and out

The beam grows as the Elemental Beings dance! And thus, a new tradition is born.

See you Friday!  Peace, love and light E

*JOIN our email list by reaching out to us at

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*FIND US on Facebook at “the Friends of the Waverley Uplands”

*SEARCH out all the latest news on our efforts at

www.aware-simcoe.ca

IMPORTANT DATES:

* Fridays at the Teedon Pit gates - 40 Darby Rd. Waverley 10-2 pm

*Earth Day at the Flow! Mon. April 22nd 9 am-2 pm. Clean-up and fundraising!!

*Maple Sap Fest! Stop site 42! At booth 42 in the Elmvale Community Hall parking lot. Interactive display, water crafts, information and fundraising!! Saturday April 27th 8 am-5 pm

*Dr. John Cherry – Leading Hydrogeologist to speak in Elmvale! Public meeting co-sponsored by AWARE-Simcoe and the Elmvale Foundation on Sunday April 28, 2-5 pm, at the Elmvale Community Hall.

 

Local Coalition Ready to Push on for Greenbelt Expansion and Sustainable Communities

Midhurst - On Sunday, April 14, the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition (SCGC) held its annual general meeting to reset focus on upcoming priorities and vote in a new board.  With 35 member groups from across the county as well as individual members, SCGC sees its role as a connector between all the various groups who are looking to build a Simcoe County that is fairer, healthier and sustainable.

The organization’s pledge remarks on the importance of water, farmland and green spaces to our economy and its future health.  It is for that reason, that SCGC is working to ensure that Simcoe County grows in a way that doesn’t threaten the root of local jobs, but builds on it.  Key issues going forward will be ensuring the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan stays strong, expansion of the Greenbelt over our most vulnerable water sources, forests and wetlands and encouraging community development that addresses affordable housing, climate change and financial sustainability.

Says Executive Director, Margaret Prophet, “People in Simcoe County don’t want their communities turned into sprawling nothingness. They don’t want communities that ignore their housing needs. As we saw in the Bill 66 push back, people don’t want policies that threaten our water, green spaces and farmland either.  People that live here love the beauty, the lakes, the trails, the variety of communities and right now all those things are under threat. We can come together to do something about that.  We can propose a different vision for Simcoe County.”

The organization announced in its AGM that it will be pushing once again to have the most sensitive water sources and natural areas better protected through Greenbelt expansion.  The Greenbelt over these areas would be a cost saving measure for municipalities as they grapple with rising costs of mitigating climate change, flood prevention and water treatment.  But the permanence and strength of the Greenbelt worries some industries like aggregate and land development.

“Right now there are proposals from the aggregate industry to open up some of the most sensitive areas in Ontario to quarries.  There are industry calls to weaken protections for important wetlands and their surrounding areas for houses. All of this is so unnecessary since there is a surplus of land available for housing. This type of development costs the municipality more than it makes in new tax revenue.  Simply, this type of development is a money pit. But we have a strong team of volunteers and member organizations that want to see Simcoe County move in a different direction that provides a net benefit to our communities.”

People who want to learn more about the organization or become a member are urged to go to the website: simcoecountygreenbelt.ca.

The newly elected board:  President, Sandy Agnew; Vice President, Tom Kurtz; Treasurer, Phil Brennan, Secretary, Charlene Strudwick, Al McNair Member at Large.  Executive Director: Margaret Prophet  Community Lead:  Adam Ballah

 

Tiny’s Annual Senior Symposium and Senior of the Year Award

(Tiny, Ontario) On March 20, 2019, the Township of Tiny held its 2019 Senior Symposium and Senior of the Year Award Ceremony. This annual event was held at the Tiny Township Community Centre from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and was attended by more than 130 guests.  Tiny’s Senior Symposium is an opportunity for Township Council and staff to provide residents with an update on Tiny’s Local Aging Plan, which outlines opportunities to enhance senior services and strategies to build an Age-Friendly Community. Key priorities of the Local Aging Plan include outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, housing, social participation, respect and inclusion, civic participation and employment, community support and health services, and communication and information. Attendees enjoyed a complimentary lunch and heard presentations from local senior service providers, including 211 Community Connection, Independent Living Services and the North Simcoe Muskoka LHIN: Home and Community Care. Exhibitor booths were on site for attendees to learn more about available services, and each guest received a copy of Tiny’s Directory of Senior Services to take home. During the event, Mayor George Cornell introduced Tiny’s new Senior Advisory Committee who will guide the implementation of Tiny’s Local Again Plan: Barbara Willis, Brian Emond, Chris Greer, Elaine Stephenson, Lynn Moon, Tracy Hinks and Councillor Tony Mintoff.

Also featured at the Senior Symposium was Tiny’s Senior of the Year ‘Heart of Tiny’ Award Ceremony. This Award recognizes an outstanding senior who, during or after the age of 65, has contributed to the enrichment of the social, cultural and civic life of the Township of Tiny. This year, Mrs. Marg Thomson was nominated by her peers at the Wyebridge Women’s Institute and presented with the Award. Marg is an extraordinary senior citizen who has given so much to the community. At 84 years young, Marg is an active member with the Wyebridge Women’s Institute. She has donated her time as a retired Occupational Therapist and taught Homemaking Clubs for teenagers. She has been a busy volunteer with the Midland Alliance Church, Out of the Cold (at Knox Church) and Georgian Bay General Hospital. Marg scripted and helped design the four history signs located at the Wyebridge Community Centre. In her spare time, she knits sweaters for an African Orphanage, works with the Midland Historical Society and enjoys decorating the bridge over the Wye River for Christmas, Easter, Canada Day and Thanksgiving.

The Township wishes to thank all of the guest speakers and exhibitors who helped to make the event engaging and informative.  If you missed the event, visit www.tiny.ca/seniors for more information about local senior services, to view Tiny’s Local Aging Plan and to view Tiny’s Directory of Senior Services. To view moments from the 2019 Senior Symposium and Senior of the Year Award Ceremony, please visit our Facebook page or website using the links below: Facebook: www.facebook.com/TownshipofTiny Website: www.tiny.ca/EventPhotos Each year, Council dedicates resources to special community events in order to engage Tiny residents. Council’s goal is to build civic engagement and community pride.

 

Doug  Downey MPP Barrie – Springwater – Oro-Medonte

Last week, our government had the opportunity to present our 2019 provincial budget, Protecting What Matters Most, to families across Ontario. It covers everything from education and health care, to deficit control and childcare.

For the last year I have been focused on listening to what matters most to residents in my riding of Barrie – Springwater – Oro-Medonte.  I am pleased to announce that many items in our budget will bring the much needed relief and support to our local communities.

Our government plans to continue yearly increases to the health care budget to renovate and expand facilities, protect our health care system, and end the issue of hallway healthcare in Ontario. Hospitals will receive an additional $384 million this year, while home and community care spending will increase by $267 million, and Long-Term Care facilities will receive an investment of $1.75 billion over the next 5 years. In addition, we will be fulfilling another campaign promise by creating a new dental program for low-income seniors that will allow them to access the dental care they need by late summer this year.

Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte is a growing community, with many young families. We are supporting these hard working families by strengthening our childcare options in two ways. First is the Ontario Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses tax credit (CARE) which will cover up to 75% of eligible expenses and give parents the freedom to choose care that works best for their children and family.  Complimenting this will be a $1 billion investment over the next 5 years to create up to 30,000 childcare spaces in schools, ensuring parents have safe, familiar options for their children to learn and grow, and the resources to pay for that care.

Families and businesses thrive when they have the freedom to do so, and years of over regulation and taxation have been extremely limiting. We are pleased to announce that by cutting fee increases and taxes planned by the previous government, and creating new subsidy programs for Ontarians, we will be able to see a total of $26 billion in tax relief over the next 6 years, allowing Ontarians more opportunities to save, grow, and thrive.

We are bringing back responsible, reasonable spending to Ontario, which is long overdue. I encourage you to take some time and read over more details in budget 2019. You can download a copy at budget.ontario.ca/2019. Please feel free to contact my constituency office if you have any questions.

 

County of Simcoe makes history through Museum Tract replant

Midhurst/April 15, 2019 – The County of Simcoe continues to invest in our forests through its largest tree planting effort in decades. Starting on April 15, the County’s Forestry Department will contribute to Simcoe County’s #greenandgrowing forests through the planting of over 150,000 seedlings within the Museum Tract in Midhurst. The replanting operation is the latest phase of the Museum Tract Forest and Habitat Restoration Project and will be conducted over a 10-day period, as conditions permit.

“Our Forestry program is among the most recognized in Canada, and contributes immensely to the lifestyle and quality-of-life of Simcoe County residents,” said Warden George Cornell. “We’re proud to work with various national and international environmental and forestry groups on this unique and important endangered species project and ultimately restore the Museum Tract.”

In September 2018, the County conducted a controlled burn on 30 hectares (74 acres) of the site in preparation for the replant and to remove invasive species. Formerly owned and operated by CP Rail, the vegetation used to consist mostly of non-native plants and trees. The County is now ready to rejuvenate the site. On April 15, the County of Simcoe Forestry Department will start to restore the Museum Tract as a healthy ecosystem and important wildlife habitat - planting seven native species of trees, including Jack Pine, which will account for over two-thirds of all the new trees to be planted on the tract. Restoration of the site will also include the seeding of over 75 native plant species.

Simcoe County Forest is the oldest, largest and most productive municipal forest in Ontario, totaling 13,285 hectares (32,835 acres). The County of Simcoe is committed to the sustainable management of our precious natural resources. In 2011, the County Council approved the Simcoe County Forest Management Plan, which will guide our policies through 2030. Through initiatives such as the Museum Tract Forest and Habitat Restoration Project, we aim to raise public awareness of the importance of Simcoe County’s #greenandgrowing forests.

About the Museum Tract Forest and Habitat Restoration Project

One of the specific goals of the Forest and Habitat Restoration Project is to establish suitable nesting habitat for the Kirtland’s Warbler by approximately 2023. The Kirtland's Warbler is a globally rare and endangered migratory bird which was nearly extinct 50 years ago, but has since begun to recover due to multiple habitat projects in North America and abroad. Kirtland's Warbler requires large tracts of young, dense coniferous forest for its nesting habitat, which was commonplace within Simcoe County prior to European settlement, land conversion and fire suppression. Suitable habitat also existed in the mid 1900's due to the significant levels of reforestation which occurred at that time.

The County of Simcoe is funding the project in collaboration with the Government of Canada, through Environment and Climate Change Canada's Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk (HSP), American Forests, and Forests Ontario. The County is also working with the Canadian Wildlife Service and Savanta Environmental Consultants, who specialize in Kirtland's Warbler habitat.

County of Simcoe is composed of sixteen member municipalities and provides crucial public services to County residents in addition to providing paramedic and social services to the separated cities of Barrie and Orillia. Visit our website at simcoe.ca.

Museum Restoration Project Quick facts:

Total trees being planted: 151,900

The County will be planting: Jack Pine (106,000), Red Pine (28,900), White Pine (8,000), Black Cherry (3,500), Red Oak (3,800), White Oak (1,100) and Red Cedar (600)

The planting will encompass 53 hectares (128 acres), including the 30 hectare (74 acre) controlled burn site

Seeding will add over 75 species of native plants to the site

Simcoe County Forest Quick facts:

Over 20 million trees have been planted within the Simcoe County Forest since its inception

Over 800 hectares (2,000 acres) is thinned annually to maintain the forest’s health & productivity

All forestry revenue is reinvested back into the forest

The Simcoe County Forest has grown by over 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) since 2010

The County contributes $30,000 annually to local tree planting initiatives

 

Misleading statements by Chrystia Freeland, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, are denounced by Simcoe County Honduras Rights Monitor, Rights Action, and Honduras Solidarity Network

Letters written by students at Innisdale Collegiate, Barrie, advocating for release of Honduran political prisoner Edwin Espinal (member of the Spring family of Elmvale, Ontario), were delivered by Member of Parliament John Brassard, to Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland has responded misleadingly, and even deceptively in the assessment of the Simcoe County Honduras Rights Monitor, Rights Action and Honduras Solidarity Network, to a Parliamentary e-petition on the human rights situation in Honduras, the illegal detention of political prisoner Edwin Espinal, and Canada’s role in the on-going human rights crisis.

The petition (https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-1868) was initiated October 10, 2018, by Janet Spring, mother-in-law of Edwin Espinal who has been illegally detained as a political prisoner in a maximum-security military-run jail since January 19, 2018. Edwin is married to Janet’s daughter Karen Spring, a human rights expert and activist living in Honduras since the 2009 military coup ousted Honduras’ last democratically elected government.

Minister Freeland writes: “Canada is a strong supporter of the rights of people of Hondurans. The promotion and protection of human rights, fighting corruption and improving the lives of vulnerable populations are at the core of Canada’s engagement in Honduras.”

Canada’s “engagement” in Honduras can only be assessed by actual policies and actions since the 2009 military coup, not by the repetition of pro-human rights statements littered throughout the Minister’s response to the petition.

“Canada has contributed $3 million to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in order to support the office’s human rights monitoring capacity on an ongoing basis. In addition, Canada provided over $5 million to the Organization of American States Mission to Support the Fight Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (OAS-MACCIH).”

The merits of these two “aid” programs are debatable in terms of whether these are the most effective ways to promote human rights and the rule of law in Honduras. The MACCIH has had very limited success at holding high-level government officials accountable for corruption and the pillage of tens of millions of dollars from public institutions. Over 30 Honduran Members of Congress have been indicted on corruption charges, and none has seen the inside of a jail cell.

Compare that to political prisoners Edwin Espinal and Raul Alvarez, who have spent 15 months inside a maximum-security military prison on trumped up charges related to protesting the 2017 fraudulently stolen elections and government killings and repression! Furthermore, despite MACCIH’s criminal indictments against dozens of Honduran officials, Canadian officials continue to do business with family members of these indicted officials.

Minister of Transport Marc Garneau stands next to Honduran Ambassador Sofia Cerrato Rodriguez during the signing of a new transport agreement on December 11, 2018.  Sofia Rodriguez’s father, Wilfredo Cerrato, has been formally accused by the MACCIH of 125 counts of fraud and embezzlement. Her brother, also named Wilfredo Cerrato, has played a key role in facilitating several transactions through his position as President of the Central Bank of Honduras, to several individuals now indicted on corruption charges. We ask, “Why do Canadian authorities do business and pose for photos ops with the Honduran political and economic elites deeply embedded in corruption?”

More importantly, the two mentioned “aid” programs have nothing to do with the consistently negative impact of Canadian policies in Honduras over the past 10 years.  Since the U.S. and Canadian-backed June 28, 2009 military coup violently ousted Honduras’ last democratically elected government, Canada has:

Endorsed three sets of fraudulent, violent and undemocratic elections (2009, 2013, 2017);

Pushed for and signed the Canada-Honduras Free Trade Agreement with these same post-coup governments.  Arguably, this agreement should be considered null and void, having been ratified by an undemocratic, illegitimate government;

Promoted the continuing expansion of Canadian business and investor interests in mining, sweatshops, tourism, and “clean” energy projects.

Canada has done all this, while turning a blind eye to or denying that:

Levels of government and death-squad repression have risen to levels similar to the years of the U.S.-backed military regimes of the early 1980s;

Levels of poverty, extreme poverty and inequality have increased to their highest levels in recent history;

Honduras has become the murder capital of the world and one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, human rights lawyer, land and human rights defender, and environmentalists;

Organized crime (including drug traffickers) have infiltrated all branches of the government and State, including the President’s office;

More Hondurans are forced to flee their homes and countries in ‘caravans’ or individually, year after year, than at any time since the early 1980s.

Minister Freeland goes on to state: “Canada also advocates for democracy in Honduras. Canada helped fund the Organization of American States’ Electoral Observation Mission in Honduras during the last Presidential election in November 2017, and supports the mission’s findings and recommendations.” She adds, “Following the elections, Canada publicly called for an inclusive and legitimate dialogue to resolve issues stemming from the electoral process, …”

This statement borders on being false. The OAS’s electoral observation mission in 2017 wrote in their preliminary report: “the abundance of irregularities and deficiencies is such as to preclude full certainty regarding the outcome.” Despite the OAS recognizing wide-spread deficiencies and calling for new elections, and even though Juan Orlando Hernandez ran illegally for re-election, the Canadian government recognized the electoral results on December 22, 2017.

Canada – along with the U.S. – are the only two governments in the world to recognize as “legitimate” the three sets (2009, 2013, 2017) of fraudulent, violent, and undemocratic elections that have served to keep in power repressive, corrupt governments since the 2009 coup. In our view, it is insulting to the Honduran people that Canada – along with the U.S. – called for ‘dialogue’ after Canada and the U.S. openly supported the President and government that had fraudulently and violently stolen the elections!

Furthermore, the National Dialogue process that did start in August 2018 and ended in December 2018, failed completely. No agreements or consensus were reached on several issues during the so-called “dialogue” and none of the major points discussed have been acknowledged or approved by the Honduran Congress. One of the major points of conflict during the dialogue process was an amnesty for all political prisoners – including Edwin Espinal – that was agreed upon by all parties, except the Honduran government.

“… and has publicly called upon the Honduran government to investigate human rights abuses reported following the elections. We continue to monitor the situation closely and support a genuine and inclusive dialogue between the government and opposition.”

Here again, Canada’s calls for “inclusive dialogue” ring hollow, given that Canada openly recognized the president and political party that corrupted the electoral process and fraudulently and violently stole the elections, and then continued to use military and police repression, across the country, against the Honduran people – including Edwin Espinal – who were protesting the stolen elections.

“The Minister of Foreign Affairs has publicly called on the government of Honduras to reinstate constitutional rights and guarantees without delay and to uphold democratic principles, human rights, and the rule of law.”

At this point, Freeland’s response is simply piling more pro-human rights statements on top of previous ones. In the case of Edwin Espinal, his entire legal process – from the initial illegal detention, based on trumped up charges, to now 15 months of illegal detention in abusive conditions in a max-security military jail – has been characterized by constant violations of due process. Endlessly repeating calls to respect the rule of law ignores the fact that the Honduran government is, in Edwin’s case and in the case of many others, using the legal and penitentiary systems as tools of repression.

“With respect to Hondurans who have been arrested and detained during the post-electoral protests, Canada continues to call for the application of due process and respect for human rights, although the ability of Canada to provide direct assistance to Honduran nationals such as Mr. Edwin Espinal is limited. Embassy of Canada officials have visited various prisons to see detention conditions, and senior Canadian Officials have met with the Honduran Attorney General, the Vice-Minister of Human Rights, the President of the Supreme Court, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs to raise our concerns regarding the application of due process.”

Minister Freeland’s final statement – related to the illegal detention of Janet Spring’s son-in-law Edwin Espinal (held as a political prisoner in a maximum-security military jail since January 19, 2018, on trumped up charges related to protesting the stolen elections) –  is also false. One need only consider political, military and/or economic measures the Canadian government has taken (invariably together with the U.S., Britain and several G7 club members) against other governments that Canada opposes or has differences with. The only difference in this situation is that Canada recognizes Honduras as a “democratic ally” and chooses to maintain full diplomatic, aid, economic and “security” (police and military) relations with the regime.

If Canadian officials met with the above offices, as stated – When did they meet with them? Who did they meet with? What demands did Canada make? What commitments did they secure from them? Have they followed up and continued to push for the release of Edwin, and all political prisoners, and the dropping of all the trumped-up charges?

Given that absolutely nothing has changed for Edwin Espinal and other political prisoners in Honduras, we highly doubt Canada has made human rights and Edwin Espinal’s case a priority in their engagement with Honduras. We call on Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Freeland to meet with the Spring family, and a few supporters, to discuss the urgent matter of the on-going and abusive detention of their family member, Edwin Espinal.

Respectfully,

Janet Spring, mother-in-law of Edwin Espinal

Simcoe County Honduras Rights Monitor,

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Karen Spring, partner-spouse of Edwin Espinal

Honduras Solidarity Network, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Grahame Russell Rights Action, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

What to do?

Please write to Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Freeland, with copies to your MP and the MPs listed below, urging them to support a face-to-face meeting with the Spring family.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

MP Erin O'Toole, Conservative Member of Parliament for Durham (Ontario), Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vice-Chair Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

MP Guy Caron, NDP Member of Parliament Rimouski-Neigette – Témiscouata –            Les Basques, Critic for Foreign Affairs:    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

MP Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Watch for our paper petition, sponsored by Elizabeth May that will be circulated during the 2019 Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival. Visit our booth!

For more information:

Simcoe County Honduras Rights Monitor: Janet Spring: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

https://simcoecountyhondurasrightsmonitor.wordpress.com/.

 

AWARE Simcoe meeting to focus on groundwater

 Groundwater will be the topic of discussion at a public meeting co-sponsored by AWARE Simcoe and the Elmvale Foundation on Sunday April 28 in Elmvale.

 “Groundwater is of major interest to residents of north Simcoe,” said AWARE Simcoe chair Don Morgan. 

 “This is the area where our water has tested to be the cleanest known to science, and it’s where 10 years ago, indigenous people, farmers, cottagers, residents and supporters from across the province and beyond rallied to protect the water and stopped Dumpsite 41.”

 Speakers:

-Springwater Township Mayor Don Allen 

-Leading hydrogeologist Dr. John Cherry

-Water Protector Shelley Essaunce 

-Tiny Township Deputy Mayor Steffen Walma 

 Date:Sunday April 28, 2-5 pm

 Location:Elmvale Community Hall, 33 Queen St. W., Elmvale

 AWARE Simcoe’s Annual General Meeting will also be held at this time. The event is free and all are welcome.

 Dr. John Cherry - director of the University Consortium for Field-Focused Research and principal investigator of the G360 Institute for Groundwater Research at the University of Guelph, co-author of the textbook Groundwater and the recipient of many international awards – will address questions such as: What is groundwater? Where does it come from? Where does it go? What does it consist of? What are the risks to it? And what can we do to protect our groundwater for future generations?

 Shelley Essaunce is a member of Beausoleil First Nation and is well-known to local people as a co-founder of the Dumpsite 41 protest camp in 2009. She attends Laurentian University in the Environmental Studies program and has worked for Georgian Bay Islands National Park, Parks Canada. She will talk about indigenous knowledge – the wisdom known to indigenous peoples for centuries and forgotten by other cultures. 

 Deputy Mayor Steffen Walma was first elected to Tiny Township Council in 2014. He will discuss the role of municipalities in protecting groundwater.

 AWARE Simcoe www.aware-simcoe.ca works for transparency and accountability in government and to protect water, the environment and health. The Elmvale Foundation www.elmvale.org is a non-profit research organization providing environmental science education.

www.aware-simcoe.ca/    twitter.com/AWARESimcoe

 

Ministerial Zoning Order Granted for Burl’s Creek 

 Barrie, ON - Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte MPP Doug Downey joined Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark and representatives from the Township of Oro-Medonte and Republic Live at an important announcement this morning at Burl’s Creek. 

Minister Clark announced that he has issued a Ministerial Zoning Order (MZO) that will extend the Temporary Use By-Law Application (TUBL) approved by the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) as of January 1, 2016 until the conclusion of the OMB’s hearing on Republic Live’s Permanent By-Law Application (PA), which is slated to begin on April 1, 2019 or later and will be a two-week hearing.

The MZO will allow Burl’s Creek to host its 2019 festival program under the same terms as the Temporary Use By-Law that has been in effect since 2016, until the OMB makes a final decision on their Permanent By-Law Application. 

Mayor Harry Hughes commented “The Township of Oro-Medonte is appreciative of the Minister’s Zoning Order.  The Order bridges the gap for the 2019 special event season, while allowing for the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal’s hearing and decision pertaining to the Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments regarding parking and camping at Burl’s Creek Event Grounds.  From a public safety perspective, the Order provides certainty by permitting parking and camping which is necessary to accommodate the number of people anticipated to attend special events.”

“I’m happy festivals and concerts on the Burl’s Creek event grounds will continue once again this summer,” said Minister Clark. “Festivals and concerts at Burl’s Creek boost tourism in the region and help local businesses thrive. They’re also a great opportunity for families and friends to enjoy live music.”