Political Opinions

County Warden George Cornell appointed to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative’s Board of Directors

Midhurst/June 6, 2019 – On June 5, 2019, County of Simcoe Warden and Mayor of Tiny Township George Cornell was appointed to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative’s Board of Directors during the organization’s 16th Annual Conference. Warden Cornell will represent the residents of Simcoe County on key water and environmental issues, including protection of our Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is a binational coalition of over 80 US and Canadian Mayors and municipal leaders, representing over 17 million people, working to protect and restore the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence. The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River system provides clean drinking water to more than 9 million Ontarians. The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative promotes international collaboration between municipal and provincial governments to provide education and resources and promote sustainable environmentally-sound policy on water quality and quantity, infrastructure and climate change. For details and policy initiatives being led by the group, visit https://glslcities.org/

“It’s an honour to represent the County of Simcoe on environmental issues at an international level," said Warden George Cornell. "Given the importance of the Great Lakes and waterways for our communities, environment and economy, we are committed to ensuring that residents and visitors can continue to enjoy our beautiful lakes and rivers for generations to come.”

The County has a strong interest in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. Five member municipalities, Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, Penetanguishene, Tiny and Tay are members of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative with strong support from the Severn Sound Environmental Association. The County also works at a local level to protect its waterways, habitat, forests and the environment.


County Councillor Steffen Walma elected to
Federation of Canadian Municipalities Board of Directors

Midhurst/ June 4, 2019 – County of Simcoe Councillor Steffen Walma was elected to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Board of Directors (representing the Province of Ontario) during the Federation’s Annual Conference in Quebec City from May 30 to June 2, 2019.

FCM has been the national voice of municipal governments since 1901. Members include Canada's largest cities, small urban and rural communities, and 20 provincial and territorial municipal associations.

FCM's Board of Directors is comprised of elected municipal officials and affiliate members from all regions and various-sized communities throughout Canada. FCM forms a broad base of support and carries the municipal message to the Government of Canada. The Board of Directors sets policy priorities that reflect the concerns of municipal governments and affiliate members and meets quarterly to develop policy positions on key national municipal issues.

“This is a tremendous honour and I thank my fellow County Councillors and all my colleagues who supported the election process,” said Councillor Walma. “This is an important time for our municipalities as we build strategies to manage growth and increasing demands on our services. I look forward to working on behalf of all municipalities across Ontario and Simcoe County to help address the critical issues and opportunities facing our communities.”

Walma joined municipal politics in 2014 as the Deputy Mayor of Tiny Township, a thriving community with a significant seasonal resident population. Through his role as Deputy Mayor, he served as a County of Simcoe Councillor (2014-2018). Walma was acclaimed as Deputy Mayor (2018-2022), and quickly progressed into a leadership position on County Council, having been elected by his peers as Chair of the Human Services Committee and Simcoe County Housing Corporation Board.


Local Coalition Wins Provincial Award

Midhurst –  Ontario Nature has awarded their Steve Hounsell Greenway Award to Sandy Agnew, Chair and Margaret Prophet, Executive Director of the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition (SCGC).  The pair were honoured to accept the recognition on behalf of the coalition and the work that it does to promote a vision for Simcoe County that preserves its water, green spaces and nature while promoting a strong economy and healthy communities.

The award is presented to those  who are contributing to Ontario Nature’s Greenway vision - a connected landscape made livable through the protection, restoration and enhancement of its biodiversity and natural features.  Like SCGC, Ontario Nature believes that working on such vision will result in:

Healthier wildlife populations and habitats

Cleaner water and healthier water systems

Greater ability to respond to drought, flooding, extreme weather events and other anticipated impacts of climate change

Improved human health

Enhanced recreational opportunities

To Prophet, working for this type of vision is not only purpose filled, but necessary.

“I have children that I would like to inherit clean lakes to swim in, forests they can explore and a livable climate.  Much of that is at risk currently, so the push to do more is constant. You never feel like you’re giving enough even when you’ve put in late nights and early mornings.  The thought that we could do something important here in Simcoe by permanently protecting our forests, shorelines and nature from unnecessary destruction keeps me going.  Imagining future generations being able to live in that legacy inspires and encourages me. This award reminds me that our work is important to those even outside of Simcoe County and it must continue”  

Agnew, as a lifelong member of Ontario Nature, is also extremely honoured to receive this award from a group as illustrious as Ontario Nature.

“We started this coalition as an alternative vision to what was on offer around the county - more pavement, fewer green spaces and higher municipal debts.  SCGC believes that protecting nature permanently works in hand with building a strong economy. Ontario Nature has been at the forefront of protecting nature since 1931 so having them recognize our vision and effort shows that we are on the right track.”

Ontario Nature is a conservation organization that protects wild species and spaces through conservation, education and public engagement and is a charitable organization representing more than 30,000 members and supporters, and more than 150 member groups from across Ontario.


Doug Downey MPP Barrie, Springwater, Oro-Medonte

June 7th was the one year anniversary of our government’s election, and the beginning of my rewarding and exciting experience serving Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte as your Member of Provincial Parliament. Time has flown since then, as we worked at a blistering pace to bring Ontarians the change they voted for and deserve. The House sat for an unprecedented 117 days in our first year, passing a total of 20 bills through Queens Park in that time. Now that we have reached the summer recess, I would like to take some time and reflect on some of the major progress we made in 2018-2019.

I thoroughly enjoy meeting with constituents from Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte. The stories I have heard and perspective I have gained in my dozens of meetings have been incredible, and a great way to stay informed on what matters most to our community. Just as rewarding are the roundtables and consultations my office organized on small business issues, autism, education, and human trafficking. I always sincerely appreciate the opportunity to build connections and learn from others.

This year I was glad to work on facilitating conversations between Burls Creek and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The temporary zoning order that allows Burls Creek to host events was about to run out, leaving the upcoming 2019 Rolling Stones show and Boots and Hearts festival in jeopardy.  However, I was pleased to be able to work with the Ministry on a Ministerial Zoning Order, which was granted by Minister Smith, and allows the festivals to continue this year.

As Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance, I have a number of portfolios, one being the auto insurance file. Governments have tried and struggled to reform auto insurance in Ontario for decades. It is a complex file, but I love to problem solve, and I am confident it is something our government can change to the benefit of Ontarians. We made great progress in our first year, and I am excited to continue working on it through year two.

Another highlight for me at Queens Park this year was the opportunity to introduce my Private Members Bill. Bill 88, The Planning Amendment Act, fixes issues and grey areas in the Planning Act that have been overlooked for decades. As a real estate lawyer, I dealt with these issues frequently, and now as an MPP, I finally have the opportunity to fix these problems that have cost Ontarians so much time and money over the years. It is so rewarding to be able to fix a problem no one else has, and it was very exciting for Bill 88 to receive unanimous support from the House on its second reading.

These are just a few examples of the many ways our government is working hard to bring positive change to Ontario, and Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte. I am proud of the things we have been able to accomplish in our first year, and am so excited to continue working for you throughout the summer and in the coming years.

Please reach out to my constituency office if you ever have provincially related questions or concerns, want to request a certificate for a special event, or to request a meeting. I hope to see many of you out and about in our beautiful communities this summer!


Climate Risk “Cartel” Based on Faulty Scientific Premise and Puts Voters and Future Generations in Danger says Friends of Science

CALGARY, Alberta (PRWEB) June 04, 2019

On May 28, 2019, the National Observer reported that “Investments tied to climate crisis will stay” regarding investments in a “low-carbon” future, but Friends of Science Society says the sun drives climate change, not carbon dioxide. The sun is moving into a cooling period as reported by Space Weather on April 10, 2019, meaning fossil fuel stocks will be more valuable than ever.

In fact, the world has cooled half a degree Celsius (0.5°C) in the past three years as the solar minimum kicks in, according to the December 2018, NASA GISS temperature record.

In an analysis of future energy markets by BP, summarized by Robert Lyman in a May 29, 2019 blog post all fossil fuel use is predicted to grow to at least 2040.

Lyman deconstructs “green energy” advocates’ myths that conventional energy is diminishing in volume or demand versus the actual data which shows the opposite to be true.

Friends of Science Society says the financial community has embarked on a path far removed from climate science, focusing solely on the carbon dioxide molecule, rather than the larger climate picture. The National Observer article on climate investments of May 28, 2019, quotes Alberta Premier Jason Kenney calling concerns over “climate risk” the “flavor of the week.”

Groups like the UNPRI and Climate Bond Initiatives and the CDP Worldwide have effectively created a ‘climate cartel’ of activist investors, focused on making signatories agree to investing only in projects that support goals to lower carbon dioxide. This has skewed investment in projects like the Alberta oil sands, as reported in a previous press release by Friends of Science of March 22, 2018. This leaves valuable oil sands assets open to vulture investors, reducing the long-term net worth of these reserves to Canada.

Friends of Science Society says many financial and philanthropic community members associated with climate bonds have funded environmental groups. Those groups have ramped up fears of a warming world and alleged ‘climate emergency’ to create a societal ‘climate psychosis.’ Unnecessary fear grips children, evidenced in the sad story of Greta Thunberg, as told in Quillette of April 23, 2019.

In Canada, part of that psychosis is born out of the “Tar Sands Campaign” – a Green Trade War against Canada’s primary resource industry, as discussed in an op-ed on Friends of Science blog of May 26, 2019. LINK: blog.friendsofscience.org/2019/05/26/down-the-rabbit-hole-with-andrew-nikiforuk/

At Friends of Science Society’s Annual Event, Dr. Willie Soon demonstrated how the sun drives climate change in Canada and thus everywhere. LINK: youtu.be/KazGXAqgkds

As Emeritus Professor Francois Gervais presented at the 2018 Porto Climate Conference, the scientific consensus now is that carbon dioxide’s effect on warming in nominal to nil, meaning a low-carbon dioxide transition will have no effect on global warming but will be burdensome in terms of debt to future generations. LINK: youtu.be/wU1PKa0W8Gc

“Such a policy goal would make humanity $14 trillion poorer compared to doing nothing at all about climate change,” estimates Robert Murphy in his analysis of Nobel winning economist William Nordhaus’ work regarding the UN’s Paris targets of limiting carbon dioxide, published Nov. 5, 2018 article in The Library of Economics and Liberty.

Friends of Science asks if it is moral to leave our children freezing in the dark, terrified of life itself and saddled with debt, to make ‘low-carbon’ investors rich.


Friends of Science Society is an independent group of earth, atmospheric and solar scientists, engineers, and citizens who are celebrating its 16th year of offering climate science insights. After a thorough review of a broad spectrum of literature on climate change, Friends of Science Society has concluded that the sun is the main driver of climate change, not carbon dioxide (CO2).

Friends of Science Society

P.O. Box 23167, Mission P.O.  Calgary, Alberta  T2S 3B1

Toll-free Telephone:


Web: friendsofscience.org

E-mail: friendsofscience.org

Web: climatechange101.ca


The Worlds Purest Water goes to Honduras!  Roots to Migration Delegation - By Vicki Monague

On June 1st, 2019, the Cross Border Network Delegation visited the Lenca Peoples of Reitoca, which is comprised of 9 indigenous Lenca communities. The Cross Border Network and the Simcoe County Honduran Rights Monitor, as a 17 member delegation of Canadian and United States citizens, visited Honduras to investigate the Roots of Migration of Hondurans to the US-Mexico Border.

In 2009, the Anishinabe women of Beausoleil First Nation (An Ojibwe Indigenous community located in Lake Huron, Ontario), with the support of local area farmers and residents, led a movement to protect a pristine underground water source from the development of a landfill.

Through a blockade and injunction, criminal charges and division, the people banded together and won. The Site 41 water, from the artesian wells of the Alliston Aquifer in the Anishinabe lands of Simcoe County, have been tested to be cleaner than the cleanest layers of arctic glacial ice by Dr. William Shotyk. This pristine water has been sent all over the world in solidarity with Indigenous peoples who are defending their rights to life and protecting land and water.

Indigenous peoples globally are facing extreme levels of exploitation and neglect of basic human rights. There is a global trend of State Governments not honoring Free, Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous peoples in favor of corporate projects, which often is a symptom of environmental racism.

The Site 41 water was taken as part of the Cross Border Network delegation. Prior to leaving, it was prayed for in Ceremony at the Forest County Pottawatomi Community in Wisconsin, which included the water from Pottawatomi territory. Then a ceremony at Site 41 in Tiny Township. Finally, the water was a part of a Simcoe County children’s water walk in which nearly 900 children participated, it was carried by 10-year old Beausoleil First Nation member Arielle.

Upon arrival to Honduras, the sacred water was given to an unnamed (for the protection of the individual) Life Defender in Honduras and was carried in the Torch Light March in the city of El Progresso, Honduras on May 25, 2019.

The water was also taken to Garifuna lands and territories at Trujillo in solidarity with their on-going land reclamation projects. Garifuna lands are currently under threat by Canadian tourism projects, which are illegally obtaining Indigenous lands and are affecting the primary water source of the community. On May 30, 2019, the water travelled to La Tolva Maximum Security Prison, where political prisoners Edwin Espinal and Raul Alvarez are being held for protesting electoral fraud.

The water made its final destination to the Lenca Community of Reitoca, given to local Grandmother Maria Luisa. The Lenca people of Reitoca are currently fighting a hydro-electric dam on the Petacón River. They have set up a camp where the Dam is being built and have successfully stopped some of the heavy machinery from going in. In April 2019, members of the community were heavily repressed by security officials of the hydro-electric dam proponent, Promotora de Energia Limpia S.A. (PROGELSA). Three of their community members were shot standing up for the river since the resistance to the project began in 2017.

As per United Nations Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169), which Honduras ratified on March 28, 1995, the Honduran Government is required to consult the Lenca communities of Reitoca. The Lenca people of Reitoca have legal land title to the area where the project is located and they have not been consulted on the project.

They have vowed to protect the river, even if it means their life.

The Lenca people have occupied these lands since time immemorial. Protecting the river from the hydro-electric dam is asserting their inherent rights & sovereignty. Grandmother Maria Luisa, along with her community members, will take the sacred water to the Petacón River, which is the site of the hydro-electric dam.

It is believed that the water holds the memory of the Earth and is one of the world’s most precious resources. Anishinabe people, who are Ojibwe, Odawa and Pottawatomi, believe that Water is Life. It is through the memory of the water, that we send our intentions of love and our prayers all over the world for the liberation of Indigenous peoples, protection of lands and waters and the healing of humanity. The Site 41 Water has been sent to 9 countries globally in the past 10 years.


*Fridays at the Teedon Pit gates-Vicki Monague has organised gatherings at 40 Darby Rd. Waverley 10-2pm. Dress for the weather and please bring a chair.


Honduras Roots of Migration Delegation Report: A Country with Little Hope

Why Hondurans Migrate

From May 25 – June 2, I traveled throughout Honduras with three Canadians and twelve US citizens to investigate why the Honduran people are leaving their home country to travel in massive caravans to the US border with hope to cross into the United States to seek asylum.

On May 25, our group landed in San Pedro Sula airport in the northern part of the country. On our first day, we met with leaders of the resistance movement in El Progreso and participated in a women’s torch light march. On our first evening, we met with a prominent human rights worker – Bartolo Fuentes - who advises and assists families and youth who wish to join the many caravans leaving the country. He informed us of the statistics that children as old as 4th to 6th grade have expressed interest in leaving the country for a better life. Approximately 63% of students graduating from high school also wish to leave, not because they do not love their country, but there are no jobs, no chance to find safe housing, there is a lack of medical treatment for the sick, extortion and gang violence is rampant, hence there is no hope for their future families. They also fear the illegitimate government’s lack of due legal process with no rule of law, impunity for the rich, goverment involvement with the gangs in violence and extortion, and drug wars. Our group also heard a similar story as we spent an afternoon with a youth education project – Paso a Paso - in an area of the city located in one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods.

We traveled north-east to Trujillo where many Canadian investors have illegally purchased land that has been expropriated by the illegitimate regime of Juan Orlando Hernandez and previous leaders of the government since the 2009 coup d’état. For further information on this topic, refer to: https://www.garifunaweb.com/randy-jorgensen.html  In this area, the Garifuna people are terrorized as they defend their titled lands. Unsuspecting Canadian retirees who want to “buy smart, retire early” (a slogan used by a Canadian company called NJOI, which has also illegally purchased Garifuna land on the Caribbean Sea), are lured to this area to purchase time share properties on land that is in dispute in international courts. Trujillo is the city where the major cruise docks are located; many cruise lines that tour the Caribbean Sea dock in the port which is an unsafe area due to the land grabs and resulting unrest. In this area, we also met with courageous Garifuna leaders who are reclaiming their lands and defending their territories, despite fear of repercussions from the military and thugs linked to private investors.

The delegation continued our travels south-west to La Esperanza, the birthplace of Berta Caceres, a very well-known indigenous leader and land defender who was murdered by government linked forces in 2016 for her work in stopping a large hydro-electric dam in her Lenca community. Our group continued to hear the story of how police and military shoot live bullets into the crowds of marchers who are defending their lands and protesting the regime of Juan Orlando Hernandez.

Mid-week we visited the capital city of Tegucigalpa. Here and in other parts of the country, our delegation witnessed many marches and roadblocks whilst the teachers and medical doctors and healthcare workers took to the streets to protest the proposed privatization of healthcare and education by the Hernandez government. The city was impassible in many areas; some of our meetings were canceled due to travel issues. Yet we were all inspired by the amazing courage and resolve of the people to make change in the country. As youth and adults joined teachers and medical workers, they took to the streets, yet were at risk of being terrorized by military in riot gear; heavy teargas lingered in the air and the threat of being shot in the streets was high.

Edwin Espinal and Raul Alvarez were very pleased that our whole delegation received special permission to visit them in La Tolva Prison later in the week. During our two-hour visit, Edwin and Raul talked about the conditions in the prison – lack of fresh water and sunlight, gang presence in the prison, very poor food quality and quantity. They were also eager to hear our perspectives on the political unrest and overall situation in the country with the marches and resulting military repression. All prisoners in La Tolva have limited exposure to news and only from a government controlled television station so they were interested in hearing about our meetings with grassroots organizations. Edwin and Raul also discussed the reasons why the Honduran people are losing hope for a better future, hence are joining the mass exodus out of the country. They also discussed their unwarranted arrests, how they were arrested only for speaking out against the government, the issues they have faced in prison for the past 17 months and how these have negatively affected their mental health and wellbeing.

One of the most discouraging part of the delegation were the events on our second last day when we met with Canadian Embassy and afterwards US Embassy officials. Both CDN and US Embassy staff did not address our questions and concerns regarding the unrest in the country and the illegitimacy of the government. Yet as we met, healthcare and education workers lined the streets and heavy teargas was in the air.

In the meeting with the acting US Chargé d'Affaires – Dana Deree, he informed us that during an earlier visit to La Tolva Prison, he was amazed at the living conditions inside the facility. He mentioned that in his visit to the prison kitchen, the food that was being prepared looked wonderful. He even commented that he would gladly “eat lunch there.” If I had been given the opportunity to comment, I would have asked him why he didn’t eat lunch there at that time! Deree also remarked that the prison inmates that he met were treated with great respect by the prison director. According to him, La Tolva was an exemplary facility!

As Deree’s comments continued to negated everything that has ever been researched about La Tolva Prison and conditions in other prisons in Honduras, why the Honduran people are leaving in mass exodus, as well as the illegitimacy of the Honduran government, the fire alarm sounded in the Embassy. A stack of tires had been set ablaze at the front entrance of the US Embassy, despite the normal heavy security that is posted at all entrances. The Embassy then went on full alert and was in lockdown. As alarms screamed, the loudspeaker called out, “Duck and cover!”. Our delegation group were finally escorted out of the building by the rear entrance. Yet in no way were we in danger as the fire was set outside on the front steps. One teacher was arrested for participating in the disturbance yet the Honduran government has been heavily criticized by human rights groups that the original fire was set by infiltrators, and not those who were part of the teachers’ and healthcare workers’ march.

On our last day of the delegation, we traveled 3 hours to a very remote area in the south called Reitoca, an indigenous Lenca community that has been in a struggle with the Honduran government and a hydroelectric dam company that started to build a dam on the Rio Grande River in their community. As our bus had to travel through a mountainous area on a treacherous dirt road, we arrived late. Yet we were greeted by over 300 residents of the community who waited patiently for our arrival. Our group was treated to music and a luncheon and were honoured at their ceremony and community meeting. On this day, the delegation witnessed amazing perseverance, courage, and community resolve to stop the dam project, and to protect their human rights, despite many attempts made by the company to silence them by murdering members of the community and terrorizing the residents. This day was one to remember.

After meeting with humanrights groups, associations, and individuals, we learned the reasons why the Honduran people are so desperate to leave their home country and willing to take major risks on the journey to the north with no guarantee that they will be successful. Those who remain in Honduras have an amazing resolve to oppose and fight the corrupt narco-trafficking Honduran government that makes their lives miserable. Yet many Hondurans have made the choice to leave their homes; we saw and heard first-hand how difficult their lives are due to corruption, impunity, lack of due legal process, limited employment, and violence.

Edwin Espinal and Raul Alvarez thank the organizers and participants who visited them in the ‘Roots of migration’ delegation. They remarked that our visit “gave them hope.” They also send their gratitude to the greater Simcoe County community and beyond for their ongoing moral support. Edwin and Raul also thank those who have contributed to the GoFundMe bail campaign that so far has raised over $13,000. https://www.gofundme.com/politicalprisonershn?fbclid=IwAR3dcpdr3HEA45UcNsBwvXpB3d-hkd2tt8FAoRgDmpxmNmlj-g3Oxo6TrOI

Janet Spring  Simcoe County Honduras Rights Monitor