Author Archives: dougdraper

Niagara Regional Councillors to Consider Motion on Basic Income for Working People

Niagara Poverty Reduction Network Urges Councillors to Approve Motion

“As we know from the Basic Income Pilot experiment in Hamilton, basic income measures have a significant, positive impact on the health and overall dignity of recipients, especially when implemented alongside other programs and policies that create a stronger social safety net.”                                                       – from a letter the Network has sent to all members of Niagara Regional Council

Motion to be Introduced this  Tuesday, July 14, 2020 at 1 P.M. Meeting of Niagara Region’s Public Health and Social Services Committee

News from the Niagara Poverty Reduction Network (NPRN)

Posted July 12th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

NPRN Supports Basic Income Policy

NPRN is pleased to announce that the following letter to Niagara Regional Council, regarding Council support for a Basic Income policy, will be included as an official correspondence item on the agenda of the next meeting of Regional Council’s Public Health and Social Services Committee, July 14, 2020.

The letter has also been sent to each member of Regional Council.

Here is the Full Text of the Network’s Letter from NPRN Chair Aidan Johnston to Niagara Reginoal Councillors –

To the members of Niagara Regional Council Public Health and Social Services Committee:

 I am writing on behalf of our Niagara Poverty Reduction Network (NPRN), in support of the motion prepared by Councillor Laura Ip for the Public Health and Social Services Committee meeting of July 14, 2020. Continue reading

Twenty-Nine Citizen Groups Call for Ontario Gas-Fired Power Plant Phase-Out

 

News and a Call-Out to All Citizens across the Province  from the Ontario Clean Air Alliance

Posted July 13th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

The Ford Government wants to ramp up the greenhouse gas pollution from Ontario’s gas-fired power plants by more than 300% by 2025 and by more than 400% by 2040.

To help fuel this massive increase in fossil fuel electricity and climate threatening pollution, the provincial government recently purchased 3 gas plants (for $2.8 billion), and Enbridge hopes to build a new pipeline through Hamilton to import fracked gas from the U.S. Continue reading

WAVERLY WOODS IS GOING, GOING … but it is not yet GONE!

Now is The Time For More Education and a Fully Committed Community Involvement to Save This Natural Treasure

This Biodiverse Gem of a Place in Niagara – Now A Target of Corporate Developers – Has Now Been Identified by the Ontario Field Ornithologists (a group of foremost experts on birds) as a “Hotspot for Birds” in the Province

A Call-Out from Marcie Jacklin and Community Voices of Fort Erie

Posted July 12th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

It is time for those who put up this sign in such an environmental rich place to call it a day and go away – Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

(A Brief Note from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large – Please read this piece by Marcie Jacklin and the citizens group and see what you can do to save this wonderful place for the sake of ours and future generations.

Post-pandemic, we can no longer afford – not that we ever could – this kind of destruction in the name of uncaring, narrow-minded and naked greed.

Let us all dedicate ourselves to saving what is left of rich places like Waverly Woods.)

Now here is the piece by Marcie Jacklin and Community Voices of Fort Erie in Niagara, Ontario 

This red-headed woodpecker is one of the many inhabitants of Waverly Woods

There are advanced plans for an extensive housing development in this location in Fort Erie, including a ten-storey condo tower. The woods will largely be destroyed if these plans are ultimately approved.

This property is too crucial during bird migration — and for hosting wildlife during breeding season — to see it disappear. According to eBird, 224 species have been recorded here.

The area is a high-quality migratory stop for many species, including wood-warblers. It is home to breeding Red-headed Woodpecker, Wood Thrush, Eastern Wood-Pewee and many other species. Waverly Woods is also significant historically. Continue reading

The Masked Face of Justice in Trumpland

And By The Way, For the All-Round Safety and Security of Canadians, Keep Those Border Crossings Closed!

 A Brief Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted July 11th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

“Roger Stone was targeted by an illegal Witch Hunt that never should have taken place. It is the other side that are criminals, including the fact that Biden and Obama illegally spied on my campaign – AND GOT CAUGHT!”   – a tweet from America’s self-described “stable genius of a president, Donald Trump

 “Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president.” – Republic Senator Mitt Romney upon finding out this July 10th that Trump granted Roger Stone clemency

Master showman that he is, a masked Roger Stone flashes his Nixonian peace signs after work came out this July 10th that his pal Trump granted him a ‘stay out of jail’ card for his loyalty to ‘dear leader’.

So here is Roger Stone, one of Trump’s long-time friends and operatives, being  granted clemency by Trump, just as he was about to go to jail after being found guilty in a U.S. court of law on a number of felony charges related to the whole Russia-interfering-in-the-2016-presidential-election affair. Continue reading

A Few of the Niagara Voices Speaking Out for Keeping That Canada/U.S. Border Closed

“I haven’t had another human face in my house since mid-March and did not go to all of that effort and sacrifice so people can come over the border from highly infected areas, disobey quarantine rules and party irresponsibly like I’ve seen in the US.” – Linda McKellar, Fort Erie, Ontario

You want to play fast and loose with a killer virus in the United States. They stay out of Canada.

“Canada’s infection rate has been, and continues to be, exceptionally low while the numbers in the U.S. are the highest in the world and growing exponentially rendering your country and the Trump administration the butt joke of the world sufficient to have Europe close its borders to the U.S.A.”                 – Carla Rienzo, Niagara Falls, Ontario

A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher            Doug Draper

Posted July 10th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

America’s Trumpies may not give a damn about COVID-19, but for the sake of Canadian’s health, keep the border crossings closed.

This July 8th, I posted a news commentary I wrote on Niagara At Large, questioning the call by a number of border area U.S. Congressional representatives, including the good Congressman from the Buffalo, New York area, to draft a phased-in border opening plan for at least those Americans and Canadians on both sides who own property in the other country and have relatives they want or need to visit there.

While I sympathize with those who have property and relatives they want to visit or attend to on either side of the border – I have good friends in that position, myself – my conclusion was that due to world-record increases of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States, it would be reckless and dangerous for Canada to agree to re-open border crossings to anything but essential traffic now.

In response to my commentary I received the following comment from an American citizen who identified himself as Bob O. –

“Totally ridiculous article,” he said. “Completely clueless to what is really going on in the states. I have paid my property taxes for 68 years for my Canadian property. I don’t have coronavirus and have been very careful the entire time. There is absolutely no reason that I should not be able to access my remote property.”

It is a position that totally goes against almost everything I have heard from so many fellow Canadians on this side of the border, who look at the flaming COVID increases in the U.S. and the asinine way that Trump and his enablers are handling it and say; ‘No damn way to re-opening that border now or anytime soon. Continue reading

Say No to More Sprawl, and to Less Nature and Farmland across Niagara and the Greater Golden Horseshoe

“In dogged pursuit of its growth at all costs agenda, the Government of Ontario is paving the way for more sprawl development across the Greater Golden Horseshoe.”                        – Ontario Nature

Do you like what is left of Niagara’s green places? Do you like locally grown food? How much more of it are we willing to give up to an Ontario Ford government that bows to the most destructive rogues  in this province’s building and development industry? This is an Ontario Nature photo

A Call-Out from Ontario Nature, one of the province’s most repsected advocates for protecting and preserving our green lands.

Posted July 10th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

If we pave over ever more of it, where are beautiful birds like this going to live? They are part of the life web on this earth. We need them, even if the rogues in the development industry think we do not. An Ontario Nature photo

In dogged pursuit of its growth at all costs agenda, the Government of Ontario is paving the way for more sprawl development across the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH), which is home to more than 55 percent of Ontarians. 

Proposed changes to the Growth Plan will expose more natural areas, productive farmland and endangered species habitat to the bulldozers in a region stretching almost 32,000 km2 from Niagara to Simcoe and Peterborough counties.

The Growth Plan was established in 2006 to better manage growth across the GGH, one of the fastest growing regions in North America. Continue reading

Niagara’s Deputy Police Chief Saddened by ‘Disrespect Shown to Police Officers Across Country’

Niagara, Ontario’s Deputy Police Chief, Bill Fordy

“Unfortunately, I see a pattern of stereotyping all police officers based on the actions of a few. … We are human and we are not perfect, but the majority of police officers are authentic and kind-hearted people that want to make the world a better place.”                 – from an Open Letter, posted July 9th, 2020 by Bill Fordy, Deputy Chief, Niagara Regional Police

Deputy Chief Bill Fordy’s full letter is posted below, followed by a response from Erika Smith, a resident of St. Catharines, Ontario  and member of the Niagara Region Anti-Racism Association

Posted July 10th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

(A Brief Note from Niagara At Large publisher Doug Draper –  In the days ahead, Niagara At Large will be posting its own commentary on the issue of police reform, and will also be posting a disturbing first-hand account by a Niagara resident who went through a hellish experience at the hands of police at the G20 Summit in Toronto 10 years ago this summer.

By the way, I know this post is long, but I think the content is worth the read. Please get past the couple of dozen words on Facebook or Twitter, and give what is posted below a go.)

An Open Letter from Bill Fordy, Deputy Chief, Niagara Regional Police

To whom it may concern;

I have watched and listened to the general public. I would now like to add my voice to the narrative because I am disappointed and saddened by the tragedies of the past few months, the resulting media coverage, and the feelings of some towards the police. I have witnessed disrespect to police officers across the country.

In the spirit of full transparency, I am a father, a husband, and I have proudly been a police officer for 31 years. I love our country, fully respect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and I wholeheartedly support the enshrining of all Canadians having the right and ability to express their thoughts or feelings. Continue reading

U.S. Oceanic Agency’s Lake Erie Algal Bloom Forecast Proves Need for Government Action to Save Lake

Environmental Groups Say Federal and Ontario governments Need to Step Up to Plate to Protect Lake Erie

A satellite shot taken over the past decade, showing matts of green algae choking the waters of Lake Erie

“We need governments to get serious about addressing phosphorus pollution if they want to prevent billions of dollars’ worth of damage caused by Lake Erie’s annual algal blooms.”      – Kelsey Scarfone, Water Program Manager, with Environmental Defence

A Call-Out from Environmental Defence Canada, the Canadian Freshwater Alliance the Freshwater Future Canada

Posted July 9th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Absorbing the oxygen from the water, algae threats populations of fish and other wildlife in Lake Erie

Toronto, Ontario – Today the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced its forecast for the 2020 algal bloom season on Lake Erie.

This year’s bloom is predicted to have a severity level of 4.5 with the potential to reach a 5.5. The forecast is just another reminder that current efforts to restore the health of the lake are insufficient.

“This year’s forecast shows that we’re not making nearly enough progress on saving Lake Erie,” said Kelsey Scarfone, Water Program Manager with Environmental Defence.

“We need governments to get serious about addressing phosphorus pollution if they want to prevent billions of dollars’ worth of damage caused by Lake Erie’s annual algal blooms.” Continue reading

Ontario’s Ford Government Taking Bold Action to Address Racism and Inequity in Schools

New Changes to Advance Equal Opportunity for Black, Indigenous and Racialized Students

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce

“Every student ― irrespective of the colour of their skin, faith, heritage, and orientation ― deserves every opportunity to succeed in the classroom. … We will stand with all students on this journey to advance respect, dignity, and opportunity.”            – Stephen Lecce, Ontario Minister of Education

News from the Office of Ontario Premier Doug Ford

Posted July 9th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO, Ontario — The Ontario government announced bold new changes to the education system that will help break down barriers for Black, Indigenous and racialized students and provide all students with an equal opportunity to succeed.

As part of this action, the province will move forward with ending Grade 9 streaming into applied and academic courses, proposing to eliminate discretionary suspensions for students, strengthening sanctions for teachers who engage in behaviour of a racist nature, and providing teachers with additional anti-racism and anti-discrimination training. Continue reading

Niagara’s Regional Council Holds the Reins on Mandatory Mask Rule

Question of Whether Face Masks Should be Mandatory Indoors, Where Social Distancing is Not Possible,              To Be Revisited at July 23rd Council Meeting

A Brief News Commentary by Doug Draper Posted July 9th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

In the City of Toronto, signs like this have become commonplace. Toronto’s council recently passed a bylaw making face masks mandatory inside places were social distancing is not possible. None of this across the Niagara Region, at least not yet. Regional Council has put a final vote on a mandatory mask bylaw for all of Niagara on hold until July 23rd.

If you are one of however many residents across Niagara who believed approval of a mandatory mask bylaw was a given at this July 8ths special meeting of Regional Council, you were as wrong on that one as I was.

At the end of an afternoon session that went on for more than four hours, regional councillors were deadlocked on the question of mandatory mask wearing for indoor places where social distancing is not possible.

Regional councillors decided, in the end, to buy more time for review before making what could be a final decision on the issue at a regular meeting of council on Thursday, July 23rd.

In recent weeks, close to 20 other municipalities across Ontario, Waterloo, Windsor-Essex, Kingston and Toronto have passed bylaws requiring people to wear masks in indoor areas where social distancing is not possible. The bylaws allow for various exemptions, including for children two years old and younger, and people with health issues that could be aggravated by wearing a mask. Continue reading

Under Cover of Ongoing COVID Crisis, Ontario’s Ford Government Moves to Gut More Environmental Protections

Rogues in Provinces’s Development Industry To Profit from More Environmental Destruction

“While other countries and our federal government are talking about a “green recovery,” Ontario is reverting back to the same old short-sighted, pro-development, pro-sprawl, red-tape cutting agenda.”

A Statement from Environmental Defence’s Programs Director, Keith Brooks, in response to the introduction of Ontatrio’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act

Posted June 8th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

It continues to appear that this is the Ontario Ford government’s “Open for Businsess” vision for what is left of the province’s green places.

Toronto, Ontario – This sweeping omnibus bill appears to be a thinly veiled attempt to package up the development industry’s wish list and pass it off as a necessary response to the pandemic and the economic impacts it has caused.

It will take some time to fully digest the impacts of this bill, which amends at least 20 different pieces of legislation. But at first glance, it appears to be highly problematic. Among the most worrying elements from an environmental perspective: Continue reading

Canada Must Say NO to Calls from U.S. Politicians for Re-Opening of Border – Phased In Re-Opening or Otherwise

Thanks to Trump and his Enablers, United States is now in flames with COVID-19 sickness and death, and we don’t need it imported to Canada

A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted July 8th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

The Peace Bridge between Niagara, Ontario and Buffalo, New York. Keep border crossings like this closed!

I usually have a good deal of regard for Buffalo, New York area Congressman Brian Higgins and the work he is doing to bring more jobs and prosperity to the Buffalo area, and to strengthen the economic and cultural bonds between his U.S. district and our Niagara, Ontario region.

But the Democratic Congressman had this Canadian, and I suspect many others, wondering what planet he’s recently been living on with a July 3rd letter drafted and signed by him and several other border area Congress men and women, Democrat and Republican, asking for their U.S. government and our Canadian government to set plans for a “phased re-opening” of border crossings between the two countries.

“As members representing congressional districts along the U.S. Northern Border, we understand the importance of prioritizing the safety of our communities as we all navigate the complex calculation of minimizing public health risks and resuming economic activity,” they say in their letter to acting U.S. Homeland Security Department Secretary Chad Wold and Canada’s Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister, Bill Bliar. “However, the social and economic partnership between our two nations necessitates a clear pathway forward.” Continue reading

Remembering a Beloved Feline Friend

An Ode to a Cat named Dylan and to All Fury Friends, Great and Small

A Brief One by Doug Draper

Posted July 8th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Dylan Draper, sitting on the back of one of his favourite wing chairs

From the first time he first became a member of our family and home – in the early weeks of summer 1999 – Dylan had a habit of looking right into a person’s eyes.

Whoever in the room happened to be in the room talking, there this little white guy would be, looking up to make eye contact with whoever happened to be speaking at the moment.

Dylan seemed to know instinctively that a person’s eyes are the window to their soul, and as time with him marched on, I think he came to know me and my wife and daughter as much, if not more, than we knew our selves. Continue reading

Ford Government’s Weakened Planning Rules Threaten Farmland in Neighbouring Hamilton Area

Will Farmland Outside Niagara’s Urban Boundaries be Next?

News from Catch, the Hamilton-based watchdog group, Citizens at City Hall

With a Brief Foreword by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper 

Posted July 7th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Foreword by Doug Draper – 

What does Ontario’s Ford government have against protecting and preserving our province’s farmlands for present and future generations?

Possibly nothing, unless some of Ford and company’s pals in the development industry want to buy some farmland up so they can destroy it forever with – just what we need – ever more cookie-cutter buildings and low density sprawl

“Until recently it was illegal, but Hamilton is now facing an attempt by private developers to force expansion of the urban boundary onto rural lands,” says a news report, first posted this June by CATCH, the Hamilton-based watchdog group, Citizens at City Hall .

Please read the CATCH report, reprised here in the space below, and ask yourself if farmland outside Niagara’s urban boundaries will be next.

Continue reading

Happy Birthday to Beatles Drummer Ringo Starr!

And Say It Ain’t So! A Beatle Turns 80-Years Old?

A Brief One by unabashed Beatles fan Doug Draper

Posted July 7th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

A relatively recent photo of Ringo Starr, flashing his famous peace signs.

I don’t know why I never thought the day would come when one of The Beatles turned 80 years old.

After all, if you live long enough, and the guy who always was the oldest member of The Beatles lives long enough, it is bound to one day happen. Yet it is still a bit of a mind blower.

Time sure does fly when you have spent the past more than 50 years buying up every record they ever made, first on vinyl, then on tape, then on CD, and then again on vinyl and CDs boasting higher quality sound and never-before-released bonus tracks. (Never tell me I haven’t done my part to keep these boys from Liverpool and members of their families out of the poor house.) Continue reading

Shaw Festival Cancels All August Public Events as COVID Continues to Take Toll on Arts Community

A News Release from the Shaw Festival in Niagara, Ontario

Posted July 7th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario — The Shaw Festival  is forced to cancel all public events and performances scheduled in August due to the extension of the Province of Ontario’s Emergency Orders and the continuation of the State of Emergency in the Province and Niagara.

In discussion with and under the guidance of The Shaw’s insurer, it has become clear that scheduled performances cannot proceed as originally planned.

“While we are disappointed with these further cancellations, we are focusing our energy on planning for the future so that we can safely welcome audiences back to our theatres, hopefully in September – even if in a more limited way,” said Tim Jennings, Executive Director/CEO. Continue reading

The Fight Continues for Safe Conditions for Seniors and Staff in Ontario’s Long-Term Care Homes

Do Corporate Profits and Tax Cuts Mean More than Treating our Seniors, in their final years,  with Dignity and Respect?

A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted July 6th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Sue Hotte, a leader of the Niagara Health Coalition, a citizen group in the region, calls out for more help for seniors and staff in Ontario’s long-term care homes, at a recent news conference in St. Catharines. Photo by Doug Draper

The push by citizen group and MPPs from provincial opposition parties for safer conditions for seniors and for those caring for them in Ontario’s long-term care homes continues.

At a July 3rd news conference outside of Grace City Manor – a privately owned, for profit long-term care home in St. Catharines where outbreaks of COVID-19 have occurred – a citizens group joined St. Catharines NDP MPP Jennie Stevens and Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates in a call for seniors and staff in LTC homes.

Among their list of concerns is Bill 175, also known as the Connecting People to Home and Community Care Act and introduced by the Ford government early this year before COVID-19 cases began their upward curve in Ontario, and disproportionately infected and, in some cases, claimed the lives of seniors in long-term care homes. Continue reading

Niagara Falls MPP Calls on Niagara’s Regional Government to Embrace Mandatory Mask Rules

MPP Wayne Gates Hoping Niagara Region will make Masks Mandatory in Places Where Distancing is Not Possible

Region’s Council to Vote on Mandatory Mask Rule at Special Meeting this Wednesday, July 8th at 3 p.m.

A News Release from the Constituency Office of Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates

Posted July 6th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates, with St. Catharines MPP Jennie Stevens to his right – both wearing masks – at a recent Niagara Health Coalition media conference, advocating for better conditions in Ontario’s long-term care homes. Photo by Doug Draper

Niagara Falls, Ontario  – NDP MPP Wayne Gates is hoping the Niagara Region will make face masks mandatory in places that are inside and where distancing is not possible.

“This just adds one more layer of support for those who are vulnerable and will help us keep these numbers down,” said Gates.

“In the US and on farms here in Ontario we’ve seen how just a few cases of the virus can spiral out of control. We’ve worked too hard here in Niagara to go backwards, businesses will start failing if we shut down again so let’s add this measure to keep our numbers low and our residents safe.”

“We’re finally seeing our businesses opening again and bringing in much needed money – but we’re also bringing in a lot of people from outside of Niagara. This is one way we can keep Niagara safe, protect residents, and protect jobs here in Niagara,” said Gates. Continue reading

As We Move Forward from Canada Day 2020, Let’s Recommit To Those Public Programs that Make For a More Caring, Compassionate Society

“If COVID-19 laid bare the inequities and insufficiencies of our society and our social safety net, it also brought out the compassion and caring of people.”

A Message from Natalie Mehra, Executive Director, Ontario Health Coalition

Posted July 6th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

A Brief Note from Niagara At Large publisher Doug Draper –

Niagara At Large apologizes for not getting this thoughtful message posted on Canada Day.
These days there is so much we would like to post, but given the crazy times we live in, things get left behind. It doesn’t help tat we are swamped with so many news releases and public advisories related to the ongoing COVID-19 health emergency.
However, as belated as the posting of this Canada Day message is, it is well worth the read. The points the head of the Ontario Health Coalition is making here, are important for the rest of us to consider anytime.

Now here is Natalie Mehra’s message –

Natalie Mehra, Executive Director, Ontario Health Coalition

It is Canada Day and after such a challenging winter and spring, it is time to celebrate.

One of our greatest achievements as a society is public health care for all. For all of the pain and grief that COVID-19 has caused, it has also reminded us all of our interdependence. Our health relies on the health and well-being of others. We know this now, more than ever.

And now, more than ever, we have been reminded of the vital importance of our public health care system; of our public programs and services; that government can create massive new programs overnight to support people in hardship and to improve equity; that human life and caring, and not tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, must be the priority.

If COVID-19 laid bare the inequities and insufficiencies of our society and our social safety net, it also brought out the compassion and caring of people. Continue reading

Canada’s Prime Minister Appoints Bob Rae Ambassador to the United Nations

“Mr. Rae brings a wealth of experience to the role, most recently serving as Canada’s Special Envoy on Humanitarian and Refugee Issues.”

News from the Office of Canada’s Prime Minister

Posted July 6th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Meet Canada’s new United Nations Ambassador – former Ontario NDP Premier and former federal interim Liberal Leader and MP Bob Rae

Ottawa, Ontario – The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced the appointment of the Honourable Bob Rae as the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations (UN) in New York.

Mr. Rae brings a wealth of experience to the role, most recently serving as Canada’s Special Envoy on Humanitarian and Refugee Issues, building on his earlier work as Canada’s Special Envoy to Myanmar. In these positions, Mr. Rae closely collaborated with the UN and the international community to help lead Canada’s efforts to address pressing humanitarian and refugee issues around the world.

Mr. Rae will succeed Marc-André Blanchard as Canada’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York. Mr. Blanchard, who informed the Prime Minister of his intention to leave his post earlier this year, served as a strong voice for innovation and reform at the UN. He also helped develop Canada’s leading role in international discussions on financing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, including most recently in the context of the global response to the coronavirus. Continue reading

It’s ‘Independence Day’ in Trumpland

Where the Virus Has Been Fully Liberated in the Eyes of the World!

And Where Democracy and Justice for All Hang in the Balance

A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher           Doug Draper

Posted July 4th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Every year at this time, as an expression of friendship to our neighbours south of the Canada/U.S. border, I have posted a brief commentary on American Independence Day – the Fourth of July.

And out of respect for relatives and my many friends in the United States, I have always tried to share messages that are inspiring and optimistic for them, and for Canadians in a world where our countries could do so much together to make life on this planet better.

During the Obama years, crafting messages of hope was relatively easy, but outside of hoping Trump is crushed in this coming November’s presidential election, it is virtually impossible to do it now. Continue reading

Should St. Catharines, Niagara Mandate Wearing of Masks in Indoor Public Spaces?

City’s Mayor Calls Special Council Meeting – this coming Monday, July 6th at 4:30 p.m. – to Discuss Mandatory Masks

News from the City of St. Catharines in Niagara, Ontario

Posted July 2nd, 2020 on Niagara At Large

St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik schedules council discussion on mandatory mask wearing

Niagara, Ontario – St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik has requested a special meeting of City Council, scheduled to take place on Monday, July 6, at 4:30 p.m., to discuss the possibility of a temporary by-law that would require residents to wear masks, or face coverings, in inside spaces in which members of the public are within close proximity, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. This will be the only issue on the agenda for this meeting.

“We have a handle on COVID-19 transmission, but the virus is not gone. As we’ve seen an influx of visitors from outside of our City, masks can assist us in our efforts to protect our community from a transmission source beyond our borders,” said Mayor Sendzik. Continue reading

Every Living Creature on this Planet has a Purpose

Are Any of Them Pests? Maybe – Just Maybe – We Humans are the Real Pests

A Brief Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted July 2nd, 2020 on Niagara At Large

If you go out in your yard one night and see one of these little critters wandering around, be happy to have a look at the only Marsupial (like kangaroos are Marsupials) we have living in the wild, or semi-wild, on this continent. It is an Oppossum. and they are harmless. Let them waddle on in peace.

Like that old Pete Seeger song ‘Turn, Turn, Turn, with words borrowed from the biblical Book of Book of Ecclesiastes, tries to tell us; To everything … there is a season … and a time to every purpose under heaven.

Whether you believe in heaven or not, there is a purpose for every living creature on this earth, even the ones I dislike the most like mosquitos and Yellowjackets.

Choose any living creature you want and do a little research on them if you believe in science, and I hope at least some of you still do. Each and every creature on this planet plays an important role in the web of life we humans are part of and ultimately depend on for our own health and survival.

Yet how often do we hear some of our fellow humans, when they see other critters, say things like; ‘Oh, that’s creepy. Kill it!’ Or; ‘Get that slimy thing out of here!’ Or; ‘Now that we’ve moved way out here in the woods and fields, we’re going to have to clear the area of those. They might attack us!’

Then there is the old stand-by; “Get rid of them. They’re pests!”

Continue reading

Celebrating this Amazing Country We Call Home’

“Canada’s success is because of its people. People who strive to live up to our shared values of peace, equality, and compassion, and know that diversity is our strength.”                                                                  – Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

A Statement by the Prime Minister on Canada Day

Posted July 1st, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Ottawa, Ontario – The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on Canada Day:

“On Canada Day, we celebrate the amazing place we call home – and the people we share it with. Whether you are firing up the barbecue or playing outside with the kids, this is a chance to reflect on where we are as a country, and where we are headed.

“The last few months have been difficult for all Canadians, but throughout this pandemic, we have been there for one another. We are neighbours helping neighbours, small businesses being there for their communities and their staff, Armed Forces answering the call to help protect our most vulnerable, and doctors and nurses keeping our families healthy. Because that’s what it means to be Canadian.

“Canada’s success is because of its people. People who strive to live up to our shared values of peace, equality, and compassion, and know that diversity is our strength. Continue reading

‘Running Back Thru Canada’

Another Great Canadian Moment with one of the Country’s Greatest Bands – The Guess Who

A Brief One by Doug Draper

Posted July 1st, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Once upon a time, in the late 1960s and running right through the mid to late 1970s, one of the most popular bands in Canada and the world was one from Winnipeg, Manitoba called The Guess Who.

Songs like ‘These Eyes’, ‘Laughing’, ‘No Time’ and ‘American Woman’ (that one going right up to Number One on the U.S. Billboard charts 50 years ago this spring) set them on the path to selling millions of records.

And their appearances at the CNE in Toronto each year, always beginning with a giant Canadian flag lowering behind them as they tore into their first song, drew almost defeaning cheers those fortunate to get tickets for those sold-out shows. Some of you may have been there for one of those. Continue reading

Oh Canada – You May Not Be Perfect, But ….

I’ve Never Felt Safer and Possibly Never Felt Prouder Than I Do Living Right Here, In Our Canada!

Much to the pride of many young Canadians, the flag we all now know  was raised for the first time in 1965. And wouldn’t you know it. The federal Conservatives were among the strongest opponents of our country cutting the U.K. apron strings and having a flag of its own.

A Brief Happy Canada Day Message from Doug Draper

Posted June 30th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

“Possibly never felt prouder?”

Okay, I know. I may be hedging a bit on the proud part.

Hope you cut me a  bit of slack though. I’ve had a lot of years to collect some proud moments in this country of ours. 

The Canadian and Ontario pavilions at Expo 67 in Montreal. Another proud moment, when it seemed like the whole work came to our centennial party.

I’ve had  moments when I found myself spilling over with pride,  like that day back in 1965 while I was still attending grade school in Welland, and we watched our country’s very own Canadian flag being raised for the first time.

Then there was that family trip to Montreal a few years later to Expo 67 when, during the centennial of our country’s birth, we, the people of ‘the Great White North’, showcased a Canada coming of age to the whole wide world.

Then there were all of those time during the 1970s when friends and I would travel to Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square for a concert by one of Canada’s most quintessential of bands, Lighthouse. Continue reading

Creating Our Way Forward – Recommendations for Improving Engagement with Indigenous Communities in Niagara

“This month, we have all been reminded of the systemic racism and inequity that persists in our society, including amongst Indigenous persons in Canada. … Combatting this is core to our values, and we’ve resolved that our first step should be to look inwards and correct where we fall short ourselves.”                            – Dr. M. Mustafa Hirji, medical officer of health (acting), Niagara Region Public Health and Emergency Services

News from Niagara’s Regional Government

Posted June 30th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

June is a month of deep significance.

Pride Month celebrates the diverse LGBTQ2S+ community, and advocates for equality and inclusivity. Passionate voices from mass anti-racism protests have filled the globe as the Black Lives Matter movement fights for freedom and justice.

This month also celebrates Indigenous History Month as well as National Indigenous Peoples Day to honour the unique heritage, rich traditions, and cultural diversity of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Here in the Niagara region, we would like to acknowledge the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe Peoples.

Niagara Region Public Health and Emergency Services wish to mark the importance of both Indigenous History Month and National Indigenous Peoples Day and is pleased to share Creating Our Way Forward: Recommendations for Improving Niagara Region Public Health and Emergency Services’ Indigenous Engagement <https://www.niagararegion.ca/health/equity/default.aspx>.

This project is based on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s health-related calls to action <http://nctr.ca/reports.php>. Continue reading

Stop the Annexation of the West Bank and Continued Occupation of Palestinian Territory

This Canada Day – Wednesday, July 1st  at 2 p.m.– Join a Rally at St. Catharines City Hall in downtown St. Catharines, Ontario

An Invite to All from the Niagara Movement for Justice in Palestine-Isreal

Posted June 30th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – On July 1st, the Government of Israel could start its annexation of Palestinian.

The Niagara Movement for Justice in Palestine-Israel (NMJPI) invites you show resistance against this unconscionable act of oppression of the People of  Palestine and to insist that our Government acts according to the wishes of 74%  of Canadians by demanding that Israel does NOT go ahead with the annexation. Continue reading

Canada and Ontario join Niagara Municipalities in Investing More Than $78 Million in Area’s Transit Services

“On behalf of Niagara, I am pleased to see all three levels of government coming together to make a meaningful investment in public transit across the region. In the challenging time when everyone is grappling with the effects of COVID-19, it is encouraging to know that we can still all continue to focus on funding critical infrastructure to ensure the sustainable delivery of public services.”                                                                                        – Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley

News from Canada’s federal, Ontario and Niagara’s Municipalities Posted June 29th, 2020 on Niagara At Large Niagara Falls, Ontario — The health and well-being of Canadians are the top priorities of the governments of Canada and Ontario. But the COVID-19 pandemic has affected more than Canadians’ personal health. It is having a profound effect on the economy.

That is why governments have been taking decisive action to support families, businesses and communities, and continue to look ahead to see what more can be done. Strategic investments in public transit and active transportation infrastructure play a key role in ensuring Ontarians can get to work and essential services on time then safely back home at the end of the day. …

Several of the projects involve improvements to transit routes and infrastructure, including new buses, renovations to bus shelters as well as new surveillance systems to ensure passenger safety. New fare payment technology will enable customers to use one method of contactless payment to access all of the transit systems across Niagara Region. Continue reading

Brock and World Wildlife Fund-Canada Address Freshwater Challenges Amid COVID-19 Threat

Brock University assistant professor Julia Baird

“This increase in attention (on freshwater and access to clean water) creates an opportunity for us as researchers and practitioners to … highlight the critical importance of things such as source water protection and a watershed/basin perspective.”                             – Julia Baird, an Assistant Professor at Brock University and Canada Research Chair in Human Dimensions of Water Resources and Water Resilience

News from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario

Posted June 28th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – The COVID-19 pandemic may not be causing freshwater challenges, but it’s certainly compounding the problems.

Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) and World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF-Canada) have launched the Partnership for Freshwater Resilience.<https://brocku.ca/esrc/partnership-for-freshwater-resilience/>

Unable to host an in-person event due to COVID-19 restrictions, Brock and WWF-Canada officially launched the partnership with a Future of Freshwater virtual panel discussion Thursday, June 25 with more than 75 people across the country tuning in.

The panelists from both Brock and WWF-Canada agreed that the pandemic was adding complications to the challenges associated with fresh water in this country. Continue reading

A Song for a Summer Time like Few Others We Have Collectively Lived Through

‘It’s summer
Summer time is here
Yes it’s summer
My time of year.’

– lyrics from the song ‘Summer’ by the great funk band War

A Brief Summer Time Note from Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

Posted June 28th, 2020

COVID-19 has not stopped these roses from growing in my backyard. photo by Doug Draper

So how are all of you doing in these post-apocalytic times?

Funny how you can sit outside like I am now, with green grass and gardens, and birds singing in the trees, and it seems like the kind of summer day you may have some fond memories of, just one year.

Then you suddenly remember that this summer we have this microscopic virus out there that can make us very ill or even kill us, and those first days of summer in June of 2019 now seem like decades ago.

More very nice flowers still blooming in my backyard. Does anyone out there know what they are? Doug Draper

Yet there are still some great old post-pandemic summer songs that work for me, and I hope they work for you because songs have a magical way of helping people through difficult times.

One such song is a soft, soulful ballad I posted here last year on the first day of summer, 2019. It is a hot American soul/funk group called War that made it big in the 1970s with songs, still so relevant to the Black Lives Matter times we are living in now, like ‘Slippin’ Into Darkness, ‘The World is a Ghetto’ and ‘Why Can’t We Be Friends?’.

This song is simply and very aptly called ‘Summer’, and you can listen to it now by clicking on the screen immediately below, and raising a peace sign for ‘Black Lives Matter’ while you are at it –

 

Stay tune for more summer time songs on Niagara At Large in the days and weeks ahead.

One of the first days of summer, 2020 at Lakeside Park beach in Port Dalhousie in St. Catharines, Niagara. I saw people enjoying themselves while doing a good job of social distancing. You please stay safe too, and do the best you can to have a nice, peaceful summer. Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space following the Bernie Sanders quote below.

“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders

10 Years Ago Today – When Police Descended on Thousands of Citizens, Right Here in Canada, to ‘Dominate’ Our Streets

They Stand Among the Most Shameful Days for Freedom and Democracy in our Country, during the G20 Summit in Toronto

One of the many face downs between police dressed in riot gear and citizens in the streets of Toronto during the G20 Summit in June of 2010. Many of these stand offs did not end well.

“This ain’t Canada now.” – to a young Canadian citizen from one of the estimated 20,000 police Canada’s then Prime Minister Stephen Harper and then Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty allowed out to dominate the streets of Toronto during the G20 Summit in that city, in late June, 2010

An Introductory Look Back at this Travesty by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted June 26th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

The late Niagara NDP MPP Peter Kormos, sitting in the Ontario legislature, as he did for more than two decades of the 1990s and 2000s.

“June 26 and 27, 2010, will forever be dark days, sad days, not just for the city of Toronto but for Canada. … People in this province and in this country have lost a great deal of confidence in law enforcement and in their government over the course of the time from June 26 through to now.”                      Peter Kormos, then an NDP MPP for what is now the provincial riding of Niagara Centre, on November 4th, 2010, while arguing for a full public inquiry in to what many Canadian citizens saw as a massive police force, out of control on the streets of Toronto.

They were “dark days,” alright, and the loss of confidence in law enforcement the late Peter Kormos was referring to back then continues through to this day with questions about excessive use of force and systemic racism, and calls for reforming and, in some cases, de-funding police forces in Canada, the United States and other countries around the world. Continue reading

Niagara Falls MPP Calls on Ford Government to “Stand Up for Front-Line Heroes”

Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates

“Will your government commit here today to stand up for these front-line heroes whose raises have been taken away by the billionaire families like those who own Walmart and Loblaws.”   – Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne gets, speaking in the Ontario legislature this June 24th

A Brief Commentary by Doug Draper, followed by the full text of Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates remarks in the provincial legislature

Posted June 25th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

For months, during the pandemic, customers have been lining up, six metres apart to get in to Walmart stores like this, and front-line workers in side have continued to be there, inside these stores, risking their health to keep the lights on so people could get the goods they need.

Even though we in Ontario, like people around the world, are still fighting this killer pandemic, and even though customers and others are still social distancing and wearing masks in stores like Walmart, Loblaws, Zhers and Shoppers Drug Mart, the billionaire owners of those stores look like they want to go back to the old normal.

They have decided to end the $2 per hour bump in wages they were making a big deal out of giving their front line workers – “heroes” they once called them – for risking their health on the job.

It is a decision that super-rich billionaire families like Canada’s grocery store barons, the Westons, and the American-based Waltons, owner of retail giant Walmart has made over the past few weeks, even while figures continued to show that their profits spiked over the past three or four months as COVID-19 shut down so much of the economy around them. Continue reading

Canada’s Prime Minister, Premiers Table Joint Declaration to Combat Racism

“We have a responsibility to create a more solid foundation to combat racism and discrimination in Canada and to achieve lasting change. We, First Ministers, commit to working with all Canadians to be part of the solution.”                                                   – from a statement issued  June 25th by Canada’s First Ministers

A Statement from Canada’s First Ministers on Anti-Racism

Posted June 25th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Ottawa, Ontario – “Events at home and abroad have underscored that Black and racialized communities and Indigenous peoples continue to be harmed by the damaging impacts of racism and discrimination. Governments, communities, and all Canadians must come together to fight racism and discrimination. Continue reading

If Only Ontario Could Cut a Deal with New York State, Maybe We Could Re-Open Our Shared Border Crossings

New York’s Governor, Along with Governors of New Jersey and Connecticut Cut Deal to Quarantine Travellers from U.S. States where COVID-19 Cases are Spiking

A Brief Commentary by Doug Draper of Niagara At Large, followed by an excerpt from New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s June 24th COVID Update

Posted June 25th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo

“We’ve gone through hell once — we don’t want to go through it again,” said New State Governor Andrew Cuomo during one of his widely watched updates on the COVID-19 crisis this June 24th.

The Governor of New York State – a good neighbour of Ontario – could not be more right.

Governor Cuomo’s great state, thanks to New York City’s status as a major gateway for world travel, and to a population density in that city that is a feeding frenzy for this opportunistic, killer virus, went from few cases of COVID-19 in early February to an epicentre of cases that saw coffins of the dead being stacked up in freezer trucks parked at loading docks at the back door of  hospitals.

Yet thanks to the leadership of that good governor and the willingness of people across his state, New York has not only flattened the curve, but brought it significantly sloping down at a time when many other U.S. states with a fetish for the reckless and dangerous stupidity of Donald Trump, are watching their numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths spike. Continue reading

Ontario’s Niagara Parks to Join Municipalities in Virtual Canada Day Celebration

Canada Day the Niagara Way; kicks off at 11 a.m. on July 1

Country star and Niagara native Tim Hicks to headline event

Traditional Canada Day fireworks and celebration in Queen Victoria Park will not take place

An Invite to a Virtual Canada Day Celebration from the Niagara Parks Commission

Posted June 25th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Falls, Ontario – Niagara Parks is proud to collaborate with Niagara’s 12 municipalities and the Niagara Region to hold &lsquo;Canada Day the Niagara Way;, a virtual celebration of Canada&rsquo;s 153rd birthday on July 1.

Katie FitzGerald will kick things off with the national anthem, along with signature Niagara-based entertainment Juliet Dunn, Avenue Inn of Niagara Falls, Spencer Burton of Pelham and Great Lake Swimmers of Wainfleet performing throughout the program. Continue reading

Ontario Government Extends Declaration of Emergency for COVID-19 to July 15th

Province Focuses on Safe, Gradual Reopening of Regions

A COVID-19 Update from the Office of the Ontario Premier

Posted June 24th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO ― In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government has extended the provincial Declaration of Emergency under s.7.0.7 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to July 15, 2020.

This extension, approved by the Ontario Legislature earlier today, provides Ontario with the additional time, flexibility, and the necessary tools to safely and gradually allow more places to reopen, while continuing to support frontline health care providers in the fight against COVID-19. Continue reading

Five Reasons the Great Lakes should be part of our COVID-19 Recovery

“When we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, we need to plan to build back better. … By investing in the Great Lakes, we can improve ecosystems, the economy and the livelihoods of Canadians. We can have our cake and eat it too.”                              – Kelsey Scafone, Program Manager, Environmental Defence

News from the Canadian public advocacy group, Environmental Defence

Posted June 24th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Kelsey Scarfone, program manager, water, for Environmental Defence

By Kelsey Scarfone, Program Manager, Water, Environmental Defence

Across Canada, there have been calls for a green recovery, and a just recovery as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s so important that governments restart and rebuild the economy in sustainable ways that benefit the health of Canadians and the environment. We can do that by building resilience.

Investing in the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes could be one of the more effective ways to do this. In this blog, we’ll list the top five reasons the Great Lakes are deserving of the attention, and how the investments could benefit us for the long term.

1. Great Lakes investments deliver a major return on investment

There is compelling evidence that building more habitat, restoring contaminated sites and preventing nutrient pollution through the Great Lakes can create an economic spinoff for communities. In the United States, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative—a federal funding program—has generated a 300 per cent return on investment. It has created jobs and recreational opportunities and boosted tourism.  Continue reading

St. Catharines Devoting More Downtown Space to Pedestrians, Local Businesses

St. Paul Street Opened to Pedestrians, Businesses as Weekend Public Space

News from the City of St. Catharines in Niagara, Ontario

Posted June 24th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Looking down St. Paul Street in St. Catharines/Niagara. file photo by Doug Draper

The first road closure, as a means to provide space for pedestrians and local businesses to operate in the wake of COVID-19, will kick off this weekend.

With St. Catharines Downtown Association (SCDA) operating the area as a special event permit holder, St. Paul Street will be closed to vehicles, from William Street to Carlisle Street on Friday, from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m..

The expedited permit will allow the SCDA to operate a special-event area for expanded patios and outdoor shopping on sidewalks and streets, while opening the roadway to pedestrian traffic. The cooperative effort comes after City Council requested exploration of partnerships with local business groups to take over streets and sidewalks as public spaces for pedestrians and business. Continue reading

Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff Says Ontario Government Is Moving to Modernize Long-Term Home Care System

Oosterhoff Says Niagara At Large Commentary on Ford Government’s Home Care Legislation is “Misinformed and Inaccurate”

A Message to Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper from Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff

Posted June 24th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Dear Doug,

Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff

I must respond to the mischaracterization and inaccurate information contained in your personal forward prior to posting the Ontario Health Coalition’s news release.

The Connecting Care Act 2019 provides substantial improvements to our long term care system by breaking down barriers that exist in the system. It is patient focused, and improves our system in significant ways.

It removes the current limits on access to care that held back PSWs and others providing home care.

It modernizes our home care system, which hasn’t been updated since the 1990s, by ensuring digitization of records and access to records by those actually providing the care in home. Continue reading

COVID-19 has Wreaked Havoc on Niagara, Ontario’s Businesses

Niagara Businesses Report Losses to date Totalling More than $400 Million

Let’s all do the best we can to help our local businesses recover.

“There’s no question that Niagara has been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.”                                                                                – Valerie Kuhns, Acting Director, Niagara Economic Development

“There’s never been a more important time to ensure we’re listening and responding to the unique needs of our local businesses.”                                                                                                            – Regional Councillor Diana Huson, Planning and Economic Development Committee Chair

News from Niagara’s Regional Government

Posted June 23rd, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Region’s Economic Rapid Response Team completes Second Survey of Niagara businesses

Niagara, Ontario – Niagara’s Economic Rapid Response Team (ERRT) now has a clearer picture of the local impact COVID-19 has had on Niagara’s business community, thanks to the completion of its second Business Impact Survey.

Over 1,300 businesses, representing over 47,000 employees from all sectors and municipalities completed the online survey, administered between May 15 and June 5th. Respondents shared the effects COVID-19 has had on several aspects of their businesses, including employment, revenue and expenses, and business status as well as their future outlook and recovery. Continue reading

Canada’s PM Remembers Victims of Air India Bombing – 35 Years Ago Today – on this National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism

A Statement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Posted June 23rd, 2020 on Niagara At Large

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism:

“Thirty-five years ago today, an explosion on Air India Flight 182, bound for the United Kingdom from Canada, killed the 329 innocent people on board, including 280 Canadians.

Recovering some of the 329 victims from the coastal waters of Ireland in June of 1985. Thirty-five years later, justice still hasn’t been done for these people and their families.

“The attack was an act of unspeakable malice and remains the deadliest terrorist attack in Canadian history. It was a shock to our country, and a threat to our collective sense of security. Terrorism in Canada did not begin with this heinous act and, sadly, did not end there either. Continue reading

We Repeat – Keep the Canada-U.S. Border CLOSED!

A Brief Commentary by Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

Posted June 23rd, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Trump doesn’t see any pandemic. From a cover earlier this year of The New Yorker magazine.

At the risk of possibly repeating myself, I think it is important enough to the state of our health in Canada to say this again anyway.

If you have the least bit of  doubt about the decision Canada’s Prime Minister and our Premiers across the country did the right thing negotiating with the United States to extend the closing of our shared border to non-essential traffic for at least another month – to the last week of July, this might be enough to wipe your doubts away.

Just click on the screen immediately below and watch a bit of this from MSNBC’s Morning Joe program this June 22nd –

Given the reckless and dangerous way the self-described “stable genius” in the White House is failing to handle the continued, srill rowing threat of COVID-19 to people in his country, we Canadians can’t afford the risk of letting any of those people cross the border to our country – not after all the sacrifices we have made, and the risks our front-line workers have taken to control the pandemic here. Continue reading

Tom Petty’s Family Tell’s Trump to Cease and Desist

Family Says the Late, Legendary Rock Artist Would Never Support a ‘Campaign of Hate’

American singer/songwriter and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member Tom Petty

A Brief Commentary by Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

Posted June 23rd, 2020

I have no idea if anyone in Petty’s family knew I posted the song (sometimes, surprisingly, you will hear from the artist or someone closed affiliated with them if you do), but I certainly never received a letter like the one below, slamming Trump and his campaign, for making unauthorized use of ‘I Won’t Back Down’ at a controversial campaign rally in Tulsa Oklahoma this past June 20th.

When I read a copy of the Petty family’s note to the Trump campaign this June 21st, it reinforced my love and respect for Tom Petty, who died tragically in October 2017 at age 66, and for the great catalog of music he left us.

Here is the Petty family’s great letter –

If you haven’t necessarily heard Tom Petty’s song ‘I Won’Back Down’ or may have forgotten it, you can hear it by clicking on the screen immediately below –

By the way, any notes I have received from artists or their affiliates about a song I posted here, and I have received a few, were always nice.

The most recent one came a few weeks ago from Barry McGuire who seemed genuinely pleased that I posted his 1965 recording of the hit song ‘Eve of Destruction’ and had found it still relevant to the perilous times we are living through now.

  • Doug Draper, a forever fan of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Here is one more spin of the ‘Eve of Destruction’ piece I posted on Niagara At Large this spring, and if you look down at the bottom there is a nice note from the very good guy who made that song a number one hit all over the world, Barry McGuire. To visit that post, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2020/06/03/are-we-on-the-eve-of-destruction/

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space following the Bernie Sanders quote below.

“A Politician Thinks Of The Next Election. A Leader Thinks Of The Next Generation.” – Bernie Sanders

Protect Our Environment, Prevent Pandemics – ‘Nature Is Sending Us A Clear Message’

News from the United Nations on the urgent state of the environment and those of us need a health environment for survival

Posted June 22nd, 2020 on Niagara At Large

A Brief Foreword from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper –

The wetlands and woodlands, and habitat areas that keep great waterways like the Niagara River healthy for generations to come are irreplaceable and priceless. Time must be up for those politicians and developers who put a price tag on these vital natural gems.

If you are beginning to notice the drum beat of posts we are featuring on NAL these days on the the relationship between human health and the health of our environment, and how significant a role a healthy environment can play in beating away pandemics, there is a method to my obsession with this topic.

My hope is that as many of us as possible, including our political representatives, in Niagara and this region of the world, take these  reports from global experts to heart and work for a post-pandemic world that says ‘NO’ to billion-dollar abominations like the low-density urban sprawl planned for places like the wetland-rich Thundering Waters Forest – a significant natural area in our bi-national Niagara River watershed – in Niagara Falls.

At one of the last public meetings this year where people felt they could pack a room safely, these two young people joined more than 200 Niagara residents in letting Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati and his council, and a China-backed development corporation know that protecting nature means more to them than urban sprawl in an area that is a haven for trees and provincially significant wetlands. This development plan should be cast aside as a relic of past times.

The kind of 19th and 20th Century thinking that drives these unsustainable, highly costly projects – thinking that has we have to balance away or sacrifice ever more of out rich natural places – has always represented a false choice, pitched by the narrow interests, that has no place in a 21st Century world facing a deadly pandemic and potentially catastrophic climate change.

It is time to stand up and say ‘NO’ – THE JIG IS UP – to those among us who continue to traffic in this destructive thinking.

  • Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

Now here is the news from the United Nations on what nature is telling us about healthy environments and pandemics –

On this year’s World Environment Day, celebrated this past June 5th, the United Nations drawing links between the health of the planet, and human health, and highlighting the importance of protecting biodiversity, the system that supports life.

“At least 70 per cent of emerging infectious diseases” such aCOVID-19, are crossing from the wild, to people, and “transformative actions are urgently required to protect environment and human rights”. This was the message from David Boyd, the independent UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, ahead of this year’s Day. Continue reading

Ford Goverment’s Drive to Privatize Even More Long-Term Care Homes – Where COVID Has Killed So Many of Our Seniors – Triggers Province-Wide Protests

How much does Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his Tory government, who slashed more funding to long-term care homes in the province last year, really care about the seniors in those homes and the under-resources staff strugging to care for them? Isn’t this a “right to life” issue?

One of the Protests is Planned In Front of Ford MPP Sam Oosterhoff’s Beamsville Constituency Office Starting at 12 Noon, this coming Wednesday, June 24th

Ontario Health Coalition Plans Protests Across Ontario As Ford Government Pushes Through New Laws to Privatize Home & Community Care, Stifle Class Action Suits, In Midst of Pandemic & Fails to Take Action on Emergency Staffing Crisis in Long-Term Care

A Call-Out from the Ontario Health Coaltion, a province-wide citizens network advocating for access for all to quality public health care

Posted June 22nd, 2020 on Niagara At Large

A Brief Foreword by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper –

A report from Canadian Armed Forces personnel on the conditions inside at least some of Ontario’s long-term care homes was described as “gut-wrenching” by Premier Doug Ford when it surfaced this May

One of the very few times I have dropped the F-bomb on this news site in response to anything I have read or heard in the news was about a month ago when that report from Canadian Armed Forces members was leaked out, describing in detail how horrific conditions are for our seniors struggling to survive in Ontario’s long-term care homes.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford claimed that he found what he read in this Armed Forces report “gut-wrenching,”

And yet here is his Conservative Party government – a party that has proven over the past two or three decades that anything like the “common good” is something it no longer cares about or comprehends – moving forward with legislation to further privatize long-term care homes in the province, even though statistics show significantly more seniors suffer COVID-related sickness and death, and just plain shitty care, in homes that a run by for profit, private rather than public operators. Continue reading

In a Time of Pandemic, Can We Still Have a Summer Where ‘The Livin’s Easy’?

Let’s Begin this Summer with a Collective Pledge to Chart a more healthy, prosperous future for ourselves and for generations to come

Let’s Stand Up for an Environment healthy enough to Fight Off Pandemics!

A Call-Out for a Summer we might re-image our way through to a Better Future by Niagara At Large publisher Doug Draper

Posted June 21st, 2020 on Niagara At Large

This summer say Yes to places like Waverly Woods in Fort Erie, where this wonderful one lives, and to places like Thundering Waters Forest in the Niagara River watershed in Niagara Falls, and to other places like them in our region, and say ‘NO’ to the greedy developers and the political toadies among us who wish to destroy them for some bucks.

Hello again to everyone I am privileged enough to speak to each day through to this totally independent, online news and commentary site.

How are you doing in these post-apocalyptic times? I hope you are at least doing okay at a time when so many among us and around us have suffered sickness and loss of life in their families.

With strength and wisdom, we can collectively, as communities, see one of these darkest of times through to a better future. We can sweep aside those who have backed plans to destroy even more of what are left of our wetlands and woodlands and farmlands.

With strength and wisdom, we can work with political leaders in this Niagara Region and at the provincial and federal government levels who will chart a healthier, more prosperous future for our future and for the future of our children. Continue reading

Canada’s Largest Private Sector Union Backs Fair Wages for Frontline Grocery Store Workers

Unifor Calls For Fair Pay Forever For Grocery Workers

Call Comes in Wake of Weston Family’s Recent Decision to stop paying their front-line workers an additional $2 an hour for the risks they face working in its chain stores during this pandemic

“We are fighting to make sure the pandemic pay stays.”                 –  Unifor National President Jerry Dias

A Call-Out for Fair Pay for Essential Workers from Unifor, Canada’s Largest Private Sector Union

Posted June 21st, 2020 on Niagara At Large

COVID-19 is still very much with us, but frontline workers in stores like this – one of the many brand name grocery chains the billionaire Weston family owns – have now seen their additional $2 an hour pandemic pay disappear. Meanwhile, Weston stores have seen their profits soar during this pandemic.

Unifor members from across Canada came together for a virtual rally this (past Friday, June 19th) afternoon in support of grocery workers who have seen their pay cut this past week.

“It has become clear, based on governments, based on the employers, that the respect that our members are shown by consumers is certainly not shown by the corporations,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said in the rally, streamed live on Facebook from four different cities.

“We are fighting to make sure the pandemic pay stays.”

News of the pay cuts this week was quickly followed by word that the Ontario government was considering taking away all but three statutory holidays for retail workers, leaving only Christmas, Good Friday and Canada Day. The proposal was quickly dropped in the face of negative reaction from the public on social media. Continue reading

Niagara Residents’ Air Quality and Health Would Benefit from Cleaner Vehicles – New Report

Public Health and Environmental Groups release new report showing health benefits of cleaner vehicles in the Greater Golden Horseshoe

Environmental Defence and the Ontario Public Health Association release a new report showing the health benefits of cleaner vehicles in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

News from Environmental Defence and the Ontario Public Health Association

Posted June 20th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Just as electric cars were begnning to take off in Ontario, the province’s Ford government pulled incentive programs for people to purchase them

Toronto, Onario  – Earlier this June, on Clean Air Day (June 3rd), there’s new evidence that cleaner vehicles like electric cars and buses will improve health in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area by reducing air pollution. Cleaner vehicles across the region will also cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The report Clearing the Air: How electric vehicles and cleaner trucks can reduce pollution, improve health and save lives in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area is the result of a unique collaboration between the University of Toronto’s Transportation and Air Quality Research Group, the Ontario Public Health Association, and Environmental Defence. 

Our modelling shows how shifting to electric vehicles and cleaner, newer trucks could save hundreds of lives every year, cut almost 70 per cent of the GTHA’s greenhouse gas emissions from traffic, and lead to billions of dollars in social benefits. Continue reading

Students Around The Globe Experience Brock’s Virtual Convocation

Brock University President Gervan Fearon

“The Class of 2020, wherever you go, whatever you do in the future, you are always part of the Brock family.”                                 – Brock University President Gervan Fearon in a message delivered virtually this June 19th to Brock graduates

News from Brock University in Niagara, Ontario

Posted June 19th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

During a normal Spring Convocation, it would take three days for half of Brock University’s graduating students to cross the stage and have their degrees conferred.

But on the first day that Brock’s Virtual Spring Convocation portal opened Friday, June 19, it took just over three hours.

Thousands of students viewed their personalized Convocation portal, logging in from nearly every province and territory across the country and 41 countries around the world.

Faculty of Education graduate Tim Hewiston celebrates after having his degree conferred Friday, June 19 during Brock’s first-ever Virtual Convocation.

It certainly isn’t the traditional Convocation experience, with family and friends gathered in Ian Beddis Gymnasium to witness the pomp and circumstance of Convocation, but amid the restrictions of COVID-19, the Virtual experience is meant to celebrate students until an in-person gathering can be held in the future. Continue reading

NPCA Conservation Areas Enter Phase Two Of Provincial Reopening Framework

News from the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority

Posted June 20th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

NPCA has re-opened its Conservation Areas iunder the province’s COVID-19 State Two plan

Niagara, Ontario As the Province of Ontario announces the reopening of businesses and services in Niagara and Hamilton as part of phase two of their reopening framework, the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) is excited to expand the facilities, services, and amenities available at its four flagship properties — Ball’s FallsBinbrook, Chippawa Creek, and Long Beach Conservation Areas.

Beginning (the past) Friday, June 19, Binbrook and Ball’s Falls Conservation Areas will open for active day-use recreation, with Long Beach and Chippawa Creek Conservation Areas scheduled for the following day, Saturday, June 20. Continue reading

Scientists Warn Worse Pandemics Are On The Way If We Don’t Protect Nature

Failure to act could make future pandemics more and more likely

“It may be politically expedient at this time to relax environmental standards and to prop up industries such as intensive agriculture, long-distance transportation such as the airlines, and fossil-fuel-dependent energy sectors, but doing so without requiring urgent and fundamental change, essentially subsidizes the emergence of future pandemics.”                 – global scientists representing the World Economic Forum

News from the World Economic Forum

Posted June 19th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Another tree in Niagara stripped away by heavy machinery in the last six months – this one in Thundering Waters Forest in Niagara Falls, Niagara – a home to significant wetlands in the Canada–U.S Niagara River watershed. Shame on those in authority in Niagara who are not speaking out about vandalism of our natural environment like this.

(A Brief Note from Doug Draper – Niagara At Large is posting this out of a call-out to people across this Niagara region that we have to change the way we do business in this region around planning communities have we have to work to vote in people to hold political seats on our local municipal councils and Niagara Regional councils who care about protecting what is left of our natural environment – ourr wetlands and woodlands and meadows and crop-growing lands – for our generation and for generations to come.

Those politicians who don’t give a shit – who support urbanizing places like Thundering Waters Forest and Waverly Woods – have got to go. In these pandemic and post-pandemic times, there is no longer any place for politicians who champion destructive plans like this in our future.)

The World Economic Forum COVID Action Platform

The Forum’s COVID Action Platform: Over 1,000 organizations are working together in response to the pandemic

Pandemics like COVID-19 could occur more frequently unless we stop rapidly destroying nature, a group of biodiversity experts has warned. Continue reading

Have You Read the Reports about COVID-19 Outbreaks on Farms?

Close to 700 seasonal, migrant workers have tested positive. Two have died.

A Statement from Ontario Green Party Labour Critic Victoria Galea

Posted June 19th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Picketers were greeted with honks of support for migrants from people driving by St Catharines constituency office of Liberal MP Chris Bittle this June 13th. File photo by Doug Draper

We’re hearing stories of inadequate inspections, workers afraid to disclosetheir illness, and cramped living conditions without PPE (personal protective equipment).

But some of this isn’t new. Migrant workers are denied many of the basic labour and housing protections that we take for granted.

It’s time to discuss this two-tier system.

Migrant workers make up 42% of all farm workers. They leave their families in Mexico, Jamaica, and other countries to help keep food on our tables. Continue reading

Protecting Nature is Vital to Reducing the Risk of Future Pandemics

“Responding to the COVID-19 crisis calls for us all to confront the vested interests that oppose transformative change, and to end‘business as usual’.

“We can build back better and emerge from the current crisis stronger and more resilient than ever – but to do so means choosing policies and actions that protect nature – so that nature can help.”           – from an expert article shared this May 202 with members of the World Economic Forum, of which Canada is a participant

A Brief Foreword by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher       Doug Draper –

Please read this important article, prepared by world experts on pandemics and the environment, and think about what are left of the rich woodlands, wetlands and other green spaces still in the crosshairs of some developers and some of our politicians in Niagara who still have a 1950s notion of what constitutes good urban growth.

What a positive thing it would be – and what a hopeful tone it would at a difficult time like this –  if members of our current Niagara Regional Council formally adopt the language in this article as a vision for how our communities grow, and how we must work to save what is left of our natural areas as we re-imagine Niagara’s post-pandemic future.

  • Doug Draper, daring to re-imagine a healthier Niagara for all

The following article was written by Global pandemic and environmental experts Professors Josef Settele, Sandra Díaz and Eduardo Brondizi, and Dr. Peter Daszak from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). It was shared this May 2020 with members of the World Economic Forum

Must Save Lives, Protect Livelihoods, and Safeguard Nature to Reduce the Risk of Future Pandemics

There is a single species that is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic – us.

As with the climate and biodiversity crises, recent pandemics are a direct consequence of human activity – particularly our global financial and economic systems, based on a limited paradigm that prizes economic growth at any cost. We have a small window of opportunity, in overcoming the challenges of the current crisis, to avoid sowing the seeds of future ones.    Continue reading

Vera Lynn – Singer Who’s Song ‘ “We’ll Meet Again’ was Reprised as an Anthem during these COVID-19 Lockdown Days – Dies at Age 103

Vera Lynn was a young voice of a singer for the Second World War with warm, coming home safe songs like ‘We’ll Meet Again’ and ‘(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) White Cliffs of Dover’

A Brief One from Doug Draper

Posted June 18th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Vera Lynn, during her Second World War era days

Most people reading this may not remember her, and I only do through my now late parents, but Vera Lynn was a youthful singer in Great Britain who helped allied troops fighting fascism want to finish it up and come home to their families and friends.

She was often called Britain’s “sweetheart” during those perilous years of war, and was a prototype for British singers like Petula Clark a few decades later.

Vera Lynn died this June 18th at age 103, but not before one of those Second World War era songs went viral again with a younger singer virtually accompanying here at the Royal Albert Hall.

The song was ‘We’ll Meet Again’ – a perfect message for soldiers fighting on foreign fields in the 1940s, and a perfect one again for those of us who have been dying, during this ongoing COVID-19 nightmare, to get back together with good friends.

To watch a recently produced video of Vera Lynn, in several moments over the years, singing that song, click on the screen below –

Vera Lynn  was one of the last of the living icons from the Second World War era, and many of the people she sang her songs to – members of what have come to  be known as “the greatest generation” – are gone. Continue reading

Regional Chair Speaks Out for Re-Building Niagara Communities – Post Pandemic – that ‘Work Better for Everyone’

“Yes, our lives may never be the same as they were before, but that does not mean we are worse off. In some ways, we have been given the opportunity to rebuild aspects of our economy and our community so that it may better work for everyone. I hope as we slowly and safely start to recover and rebuild, we will do so in partnership and collaboration.”

– from Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley’s State of the Region address, June 18th, 2020

The Regional Chair’s State of the Region Address, this one delivered virtually

Posted June 18th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

“Good morning.

Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley

I want to thank each of you for logging in today to participate in this virtual State of the Region.

While I know meetings of this type have become common place over the last few months, I am personally looking forward to our next opportunity to gather as a  community and make the connections that some of us used to take for granted.

I also want to thank the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce and all of today’s sponsors for making this event possible. I am grateful for the opportunity to share some thoughts on the state of our Region and how Niagara will emerge on the other side of one of the most challenging times that we have experienced as a community.

Finally, I want to thank Dr. Mustafa Hirji, the Region’s Acting Medical Officer of Health, and Ron Tripp, the Region’s Acting Chief Administrative Officer, for joining me as part of the discussion panel. I am looking forward to addressing the question from this chamber’s membership.

*COVID‐19 Impacts*

I want to begin my remarks today by addressing the impact COVID‐19 has had on our economy, our public health systems, and most importantly, our people.

(If you would like to watch and listen to Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley delivering this State of the Region address virtually, click on the screen immediately below.)

Many businesses are struggling to keep the lights on as doors remain shut and revenues are down. And unfortunately, we all know of businesses who paid an even larger sacrifice to keep the community safe and will never reopen after the pandemic is over. Continue reading

Sadly, Yet Thankfully, Canada-U.S. Border is Closed for At Least One More Month

It’s Official. Border Closing extended to all but ‘Non-Essential Traffic’ until at least July 21st

Keep Border Crossing Closed to Trumpland Until End of Year, If Necessary

A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted June 17th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Thank You Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the role you played in continuing to keep the Canada-U.S. border closed

Well, what can one say? We are living in post-apocalyptic times, after all.

As someone who has spent most of my life crossing the border to the United States, and has made many dear friends in “the land of the free,” I never imagined a time would come when crossing that iconic Peace Bridge between Niagara, Ontario and Buffalo would be closed to all but mostly commercial, “essential traffic” for going on four months.

You would have to go back 102 years, to the misnamed “Spanish Flu” pandemic of 1918, to know the real life-and-death impacts of anything like this.

There are many lessons to learn from the 1918 pandemic – not least of which are the disastrous consequences of declaring the health emergency over and re-opening “business as usual” way too soon –  but there is a self-described “stable genius” south of the border in the White House who thinks he knows better than any health experts do. Continue reading

Under Cover of Pandemic, Ford’s Tories Move to Weaken Protection Rules for Green Places in Our Greater Golden Horseshoe

Will Ford’s Moves Put Biodiverse Gems Like Thundering Waters Forest in Niagara Falls and Waverly Woods in Fort Erie at Further Risk

“Instead of investing in recovery from the pandemic, the Ontario government is continuing its hatchet job on sound planning.” – The Canadian advocacy group Environmental Defence

A Statement by Environmental Defence’s Executive Director, Tim Gray, on the Ontario government’s proposed weakening of the Growth Plan

Posted June 16th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Toronto, Ontario – Today (this June 16th)  the Ontario government resumed their attack on farms, sustainable cities, nature and affordable healthy living in the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH).

Let’s not let short-sighted politicians and greedy developers use the Pandemic and need to “get back to business” to destroy places like this – Thundering Waters Forest in Niagara Falls – for all time. Photo by Lori Monroe

The proposed changes to the Growth Plan include:

  •  1. Removing all protection for endangered species and their habitats from the impacts of aggregate pits, quarries and way-side pits in natural heritage areas.
  • 2. Considering the use of inaccurate population projections to guide future growth, even though their own Ministry of Finance has determined that census based projections show that only Peel Region and Toronto are exceeding Growth Plan projections, while every other region is attracting far fewer residents.
  • 3. Extending the required period for municipalities to plan for growth until 2051, thus facilitating massive urban boundary expansions onto farmland and natural areas.
  • Let’s protect Ontario’s species at risk and in danger of disappearing forever. They are worth more than low-density urban sprawl.

Continue reading

If You Care About Protecting What’s Left of Niagara’s Trees & Forests, Get Involved in This

Be Part of a Virtual Open House, hosted by Niagara’s Regional Government, this Wednesday, June 17 from 5 to 6 P.M.

Find Out More About How to Get Involved in the Open House and in an Online Survey Below

Saving our trees for the health of our environment and for our childrens’ future. Niagara needs stronger tree protection rules

A Call-Out for Public Input from Niagara’s Regional Government

Posted June 16th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara residents, businesses and other stakeholders are being asked to weigh in on the future of woodland conservation in the region, through a brief online survey and a virtual open house.

The Region is in the process of updating its Woodland Conservation By-law, which has been regulating and conserving woodlands in Niagara since 1981. Public feedback is needed to ensure the revised by-law provides the tools needed to effectively conserve and regulate Niagara’s woodlands, while remaining consistent with Provincial legislation and best planning and management practices. Continue reading

Planting and Preserving Trees in Ontario for the Health of Our Environment and OURSELVES

‘Federal Goverment funding announced on June 5, 2019, by (Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s) former Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, saved the 50 Million Tree Program (MTP), which had had its funding cut by (Premier Doug Ford ‘s) Government of Ontario.’

Some Good News we should all read from the not-for-profit group Forests Ontario

Posted June 15th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

A Brief Foreword Note from Doug Draper – This important program also benefits Niagara and has been engaged in for years by good field staff at the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) and by volunteer conservationists across our region.

Shame on Ontario’s Ford government for defunding and good for the Trudeau government in Ottawa for restoring the funds needed to keep it alive for present and future generations who need these trees for a healthy life and environment.

On World Environment Day, Forests Ontario says 2020 tree-planting season was a success despite COVID-19

Toronto, Ontario  – This (past) World Environment Day, on June 5th, Forests Ontario celebrated the first anniversary of receiving federal funding for their 50 Million Tree Program (50 MTP). They report that their 2020 planting season ended just 10 per cent under target, despite COVID-19 related challenges. Continue reading

Niagara College Community Unites to Celebrate Class of 2020

First virtual convocation ceremony draws more than 10,000 viewers from around the world

News from Niagara College in Niagara, Ontario

Posted June 16th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – June 15 was a day of many firsts at Niagara College – the first day of its first-ever Virtual Convocation ceremonies, to celebrate its first class of graduates who completed their studies remotely at a time in history like no other. But for 1,270 students who marked the special milestone from their homes, it was the first day of the rest of their lives.

Niagara College graduates zoom in for virtual convocation ceremonies from all over the world. Niagara College Community Unites to Celebrate Class of 2020

While they may not have been able to gather in person, the Niagara College community joined together online and in droves, from Niagara and around the world, to celebrate its graduating class of 2020. Continue reading

What Is West Lincoln Mayor David Bylsma Thinking?

And What An Embarrassment Bylsma Is To Our Niagara Region!

A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted June 15th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

West Lincoln Mayor and Niagara Regional Councillor David Bylsma

Less than two weeks ago today, Niagara’s Regional Chair Jim Bradley – in the wake of the horrific death of another African American that set off world-wide demonstrations against racism – did us all proud by beginning a meeting of the Region’s council with these words –

“First,” said Bradley, “our thoughts are with the friends and family of George Floyd. Much has been reported about this incident over the past 11 days and it can become easy to lose sight of the individual at the core of this case. It is important to remember that Mr. Floyd was a real person, with the same hopes and dreams and concerns that each of us have. ….

“Second,” Niagara’s Regional Chair continued, “on behalf of Niagara Region, I want to offer a full and unequivocal condemnation of racism and discrimination, regardless of what form it takes. Whether it is overt or systemic, there is no place for this type of behaviour in our region, province or country. This council, I know, rejects all forms of exclusion and intolerance. …

“As we all can recognize, we are not immune to the effects of racism in Canada.”

Apparently, we are not immune to racism on Niagara’s Regional Council either.

Continue reading

BREAKING NEWS – Niagara Is Moving to Stage Two Re-openings, Effective Friday, June 19th

Need A Hair Cut? Want to go back to the Shopping Mall? How about a restaurant outing? These are among the businesses and services that will be eligible to re-open in Niagara just four days from now.

A Brief One from Doug Draper

Posted June 15th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Shortly after noon this June 15th, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that Niagara and six other regions across the province will now join 24 others in moving to State Two when it comes to re-opening businesses and services.

That means that shopping malls, restaurants and hair salons will be among the businesses that can now open in Niagara following a lockdown that has lasted more than two months due to the health emergency triggered by COVID-19. Continue reading

Caravan of Activists Rally in Niagara in Support of Fair Treatment for Migrant Farm Workers

“Migrant Workers face multiple challenges and obstacles in accessing services and information crucial to their well-being during their stay in Canada. … Many migrant workers are left with few resources to help them deal with the health, social, and legal issues they encounter while in Canada.”                                    – Niagara Migrant Workers Interest Group

“Migrant workers such as our seasonal agricultural workers are an essential part of Niagara’s and Canada’s workforce. … They deserve to have the same basic rights and protections such as healthcare, decent work, pensions and employment insurance as all other Canadian workers.”                                                                       – Lou Ann Binning, President of the Niagara District Regional Labour Council.

A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted June 15th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Picketers receive honks of support for migrants from people driving by St Catharines constituency office of Liberal MP Chris Bittle this June 13th. All Photos by Doug Draper

One the more telling things this pandemic has done, for better or worse over the past three or four months, is amplify the weaknesses and inequalities in our systems for looking after one another – for treating one another fairly.

That is certainly the case when it comes to millions of people, from grocery store clerks to those working in long-term care homes, which have been labelled “essential workers” and have even been celebrated as “frontline heroes” during this COVID crisis, yet are struggling to get by on low wages and little or no benefits.

And it is also the case for countless migrant workers that owners and operators of agricultural operations in Niagara and other parts of Ontario employ each year under a Government of Canada Temporary Foreign Worker’s Program that, by many accounts, fails to do justice for them. Continue reading

Niagara College’s Top Graduate Reaches For Higher Calling

St. Catharines resident Kariann Gracey earns prestigious Governor General Academic Medal

“Gracey is driven by her passion for social work and her mission to advocate for society’s most vulnerable.”

News from Niagara College in Niagara, Ontario

Posted June 15th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Top Niagara College graduate from St. Catharines, Kariann Gracey

For Niagara College’s top graduating student Kariann Gracey, achievement is not just about making the grade – it’s about making a difference.

As the College prepares to celebrate Spring Convocation with five days of virtual ceremonies beginning June 15, the lifelong St. Catharines resident stands out as head of NC’s Class of 2020.

On June 18, she will officially graduate from the Social Service Worker program with a 97.67% grade-point average and as the recipient of the most prestigious award a Canadian student can receive – the Governor General’s Academic Medal.

“Kariann is known by faculty for being outstanding – both as a student and as a person,” said Carolyn Triemstra, dean of Community and Health Studies. Continue reading