Posted by NAL publisher Doug Draper on Niagara At Large, January 19th, 2017
This January 18th, 2017, Niagara citizen Ed Smith, who has been slapped with a $200,000 lawsuit by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and its former CAO Carmen D’Angelo, stood before the NPCA’s board and delivered the following address to them – one that we, as citizens in a democracy, all need to read.
By the way, the NPCA board approved a motion to have an audit done on its operations. Niagara At Large will post a news commentary on that development and what further needs to be done to reclaim this Conservation Authority for the people of this region this coming January 20th. Stay tuned.
Now here are Ed Smith’s words to this board –
“Ladies and gentlemen:
Whatever trust the public places in its officials must be respected. Under the right circumstances the loss of public trust can mean the loss of the right to govern, in a healthy democracy public trust is foundational.
Quoting the Conservation Authorities Act the mandate of the Conservation Authority is: “To establish and undertake programs designed to further the conservation, restoration, development and management of natural resources.”
The Conservation Authority is our advocate for the environment in the Niagara Peninsula, as well as parts of Hamilton and Haldimand County.
As our publicly trusted advocates for the environment the NPCA has done the following in the past 2-3 years · Promoted experimentation with biodiversity offsetting in one of Niagara’s most important natural heritage locations, in spite of no scientific peer review documents or other forms of proof that it can be done.
A move that appears to be motivated more for the benefit of the developers who would like to build on the site then it is founded in any concern for Niagara’s Green future.
· Violated provincial and NPCA policy by hiring members of the Board to senior management positions. Although they were on leave, they were still members of this Board. ·
Awarding a $41,000 cheque to a sitting member while on leave of absence from the Board, for reasons not clearly defined anywhere.
· Released fully one third of the staff and replaced them with people of undefined qualifications. Many of them with some close relations to Board members or senior management.
· Demonstrated a perceived reluctance or refusal to pursue serious cases of environmental wrong doing perpetrated by developers in the Region.
· Demonstrated a perceived great deal of zeal in pursuing much smaller environmental infractions that involve individual citizens or small landowners.
· Spent untold hundreds of thousand, perhaps much more, of taxpayer dollars engaged in legal battles and severance package settlements. Money that could have been spent on environmental stewardship programs.
· Spent 10’s of thousands, if not hundred’s of thousands of taxpayer dollars to hire a lobbyist.
An agency of our government spent our tax dollars to hire a lobbyist to lobby our government. For these reasons, and many other examples I could list, I put to you that this Board and the senior management of the NPCA has shaken the public trust to its core.
The true strength of democracy is the governing policies and laws that define it, coupled with the ability and willingness of the institutions of society to uphold them.
This Board and senior management have chosen a path for the NPCA that flies directly in the face of its provincial mandate and by so doing has violated the public trust that is enshrined in your appointments.
The great thing about trust is that it can be rebuilt and it can start today. The motion that will be discussed, and the wording of any motion that is voted on is a crucially important first step in that rebuilding.
The actions of this meeting will be heavily scrutinized and judgments will be passed. I beg of you, do the right thing.
Today, for this small moment in time, I beg of you, do the right thing.
Today, for this small moment in time, the power is yours.
Do the right thing and let the rebuilding of public trust begin.
Martin Luther King: “To passively accept an unjust system is to co-operate with that system, and hereby to become a participant in its evil.
” I choose not to participate!”
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“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders