A Commentary by Doug Draper, publisher, Niagara At Large
Posted May 16th, 2017
Late this April, I walked in to the Niagara regional council chambers shortly after another meeting of the council started, and the ill-tempered, back-and-forth spitting on the council floor had already begun.
There was one regional councilor, then another taking their verbal jabs, then the chair up their with his gavel doing his usual; ‘That’s enough!” “You’re out of order!”, “Sit down. I don’t want to hear any more of this!”, or whatever.
Then I found myself doing something I have never done in all of the more than 35 years I’ve covered public meetings as a professional journalist. I found myself saying; “Jesus Christ,” as I sat watching this garbage, just loud enough so that people sitting near me could hear.
It was not a proud moment in what has otherwise been a reatlively respectable reporting career, and I thought to myself – ‘This is just about all I can take of this. It is doing no good. It is depressing and debilitating. For the time being, at least, I’ve got to stop coming here.’
I have come to the same conclusion about the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and its rancid administrators and board of directors. So much so, that to all of those who have emailed me or phoned and asked if I am going to the NPCA’s next board meeting – scheduled for this Wednesday, May 16th in the morning when (you know it and so does the NPCA brass) most working members of the public cannot attend – my answer is NO.
I have spent the past three or four year watching the NPCA which, going back to decades gone by when I was a fulltime environment reporter in this region, turn from the uncompromising voice for conservation in this region that it once was into the stinking mountain of pig manure that it is today.
Most of the good, expert conservationists that once worked for this body are retired or have been let go one way or another, and there is nothing left to deal with here any more.
At the May 16th d meeting, the board is poised to approve a recently drafted revision of their code of conduct – this one with a Trump-like clause in it which would expect the board members to devote complete and utter loyalty to the NPCA hierarchy and whatever its mission is or decisions it makes.
There was a time, when I foolishly thought there was still something to save here, that I would have been as upset as I know at least some citizens are over this code of conduct business, and the censuring of board member Bill Hodgson, and all of the other antics that just go on and on. But I’ve reached a point where I’ve found myself saying – “So now they want to codify loyalty to one another? Go ahead. What bloody difference is that going to make? Throw it right up there on the crap pile with everything else?”
So unless I have any real reason to believe that the provincial government is ever finally going to come in and clean the NPCA mess out, which I’m beginning to think is never going to happen with Kathleen Wynne at the helm, it is time to say ‘lost cause’ and move on to other issues where there remains hope that engagement will lead to benefits for the community at large.
Those other issues are where Niagara At Large will continue to devote time.
The one silver lining in all of this is that we have municipal elections across this region next year.
Let’s work together as fellow citizens and neighbours to run a slate of candidates across Niagara that pledge their loyalty to the common good and community!
If you want to read some of the latest crap going on at the NPCA and regional government level, click on – http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/2017/05/15/critics-clobber-changes-to-npca-code .
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“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders