Category Archives: Uncategorized

Trudeau Government Urged to Scrap COVID Testing Requirement at Canada/U.S. Border Crossings

Come this November 8th, how many Canadians will want to go back to crossing  border bridges for a day in the Buffalo area if they have to pay up to $300 for a COVID test on top of showing proof of vaccination?

Canada’s Travel Rules Punitive for Middle-Class Families – Canadian Travel & Tourism Roundtable

Mandatory pre-departure PCR testing for fully vaccinated Canadian travellers is proving prohibitively expensive for Canadian families

Travel & Tourism Roundtable calls on the federal government to remove the pre-departure PCR test and amend the discriminatory child policy for travelling minors

A Brief Foreword  from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large –

For more than a year, and a half bridges like this – the Rainbow Bridge between Niagara Falls, Ontario and Niagara Falls, New York – have been closed to most traffic.

As this coming Monday, November 8th approaches for re-opening border crossings to so-called “non-essential” Canadian travellers for the first time in more than a year and a half, we learn that community leaders in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, New York are preparing to hold a media event on the morning of the 8th, welcoming their Canadian neighbours back.

That welcoming event seems nice on the surface but political and business leaders on the American side may be in for a letdown because Canada’s federal government is continuing to insist that any Canadian returning to their home from a trip to, let’s say, Buffalo, is not only going to have to show they are fully vaccinated. They are also going to have to show that they have tested negative for COVID-19. Continue reading

Ford Government’s $15 Minimum Wage Hike Hits Businesses Without Notice or Consultation

Wage Increase Could Harm Businesses at Critical Time When They are Still Struggling to Recover from Pandemic

A Statement from the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce CEO Mishka Balsom

Posted November 2nd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Mishka Balsom, CEO, Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Niagara, Ontario – Today (November 2nd), Mishka Balsom, CEO of Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce, released the following statement regarding the Government of Ontario’s proposed legislation that, if passed, would raise the general minimum wage effective January 01, 2022.

“We support fair wages, and we recognize that workers have been impacted by the pandemic and an increased cost of living.

“However, two months is not enough time for businesses to plan for and implement such changes, especially when many will have already set their budgets for next year. Continue reading

Billionaire Space Cadets Should Focus on Saving Earth – Prince William

“We need some of the world’s greatest brains and minds fixed on repairing this planet. Not trying to find the next place to go.”       – Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and now second in line to the British Throne

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

Posted October 15th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

While some of the world’s richest people like Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Elon Musk – people who don’t pay a penny of taxes down here on earth – play around with rocketing tourists into space, at least some wonder the following.

They wonder if these top of the Fortune 500 plutocrats might consider investing some of their fortune to make things better down here on planet earth.

I am not the biggest fan in the world of the British monarchy, but I would like to give Prince Williams two big thumbs up for being one of the latest to come out and say that in a BBC interview that there is something about these billionaires playing around with space toys that is way out of whack when we are facing a catastrophic climate emergency earth side. Continue reading

Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving

A Holiday Weekend Message from Niagara At Large

Posted October 10th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Here we are going through the second Canadian Thanksgiving weekend in a row with this killer pandemic at large.

Every piece of factual information I read and hear tells me that this nightmare we are collectively suffering through  did not have to be this prolonged if more people followed the health measures and got vaccinated.

If you have not gotten vaccinated yet, please do so for the sake of yourself, your friends and family, and for the common good of all.

And please stop  – if you happen to  fall in this stream of information consumers   – relying so heavily on Facebook and mostly other right-wing venues for misinformation about what still remains a word-wide health catastrophe.

Thank you for visiting Niagara At Large for the news and commentary we post on this independent site, and have a Happy Thanksgiving.

  • 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

Ford Government Working to “Fix” Long-Term-Care Homes – Niagara West Conservative MPP Sam Oosterhoff

A Statement by Niagara West Ford Government MPP Sam Oosterhoff

Posted October 8th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara West and Ford Government MPP Sam Oosterhoff

“One pillar of our government’s plan to fix long-term care is increasing staff so they can provide more, high-quality care to residents.

“That is why, the Ontario government is providing long-term care homes across the province with $270 million to hire more staff to increase direct care for residents from 2 hours and 45 minutes to 3 hours, per resident by the end of this fiscal year. This will make Ontario a leader in direct care.

“Every long-term care home in Ontario will benefit from this funding as it will allow them to hire more staff and these staff will deliver increased care to residents. Continue reading

Now – Possibly More Than Ever – We Need More Brave Heroes in This World like Frances Haugen

“You Are A 21st Century American Hero and We Owe You a Debt of Gratitude.”

Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey to former Facebook employee and whistleblower Francis Haugen who testified before a U.S. Senate committee this October 5th, 2021 about the dangerous and destructive operations of Facebook

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

Posted October 5th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Former Facebook employee and now whistleblower Frances Haugen warns the world about this out-of-control corporate monster

“I’m here today (before a U.S. Senate committee this October 5th) because I believe Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy. … Yesterday (this past October 4th) we saw Facebook taken off the internet. I don’t know why it went down, but I know that for more than five hours, Facebook wasn’t used to deepen divides, destabilize democracies and make young girls and women feel bad about their bodies.”                                                        – former Facebook employee, now whistleblower Frances Haugen

The late American civil rights leader Martin Luther King once said that bad things in this world happen when good people don’t speak out.

King said that more than 50 years ago and there has always been a problem of not enough good people speaking out but these days, good people not speaking out is all too pervasive. Continue reading

No More “Hollow Apologies,” Mr. Prime Minister. Give Us “Concrete Action” – RoseAnne Archibald, National Chief of Canada’s First Nations

A Brief Commentary byNiagara At Large reporter and publisher  Doug Draper 

Posted October 4th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

First Nations Chief RoseAnne Archibald

Two thumbs up for RoseAnne Archibald, National Chief of the First Nations across our country for pinning the tail on the donkey.

In this case, the donkey is Canada’s all-sweet-talk-and-little-in the-way of action’ Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

As many if not most of you know by now, Trudeau performed like the arrogant little rich kid he is this past September 30th – a day that just happened to be Canada’s first ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to commemorate indigenous children who suffered and died at residential schools – to take a little family vacation at a swanky looking beach house in British Columbia. Continue reading

Observing National Day For Truth and Reconciliation in Niagara

A Statement from Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley

Posted September 24th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – As (Niagara Regional) council is aware, September 30 has been declared the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Next Thursday (September 30th) will be an opportunity for all Canadians to acknowledge the devastating effects of the residential school system on Indigenous peoples, and to reflect on ways we can better advance our reconciliation efforts to build a better future for everyone.

It is my understanding that Niagara’s Indigenous communities will be observing this day as a time of reflection and mourning. I believe September 30th is a chance for us all to stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples across the country. Continue reading

In Niagara, All Four Federal Incumbents Are Back in the Saddle Again

Liberal MPs Vance Badawey of Niagara Centre and Chris Bittle of St. Catharines, and Conservative MPs Tony Baldinelli of Niagara Falls and Dean Allison of Niagara West Have All Been Re-elected

By Doug Draper

Posted September 21st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey wins for a third time in the riding since 2015. File photo

At the end of this ill-timed federal election, there is no change in the four ridings making up the election map in Niagara, Ontario.

Although tracking polls showed the federal Liberals and Conservatives running neck and neck in the Liberal-held ridings of Niagara Centre and St. Catharines, the two Trudeau incumbents, Vance Badawey and Chris Bittle, began inching ahead of their rivals during the final days of the campaign, and this Monday night, they prevailed.

Working with an impressive campaign team that was out there, on the phones and on the ground, spreading the word about their candidate, Badawey defeated second-place Conservative Graham Speck by more than 2,000 votes, with the NDP finishing third and the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) and Green Party finishing a distant fourth and fifth. Continue reading

A Lake Erie Success Story – Lake Trout Naturally Reproducing For First Time in 60 Years

“This phenomenal Great Lakes story of recovery is a testament to the perseverance of the researchers and biologists from DEC and partner agencies who worked tirelessly to help restore this fishery.”                                                                                                            – New York State Department of Environment Commissioner Basil Seggos in a news  release

Some Good News about Lake Erie from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Posted September 15th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

A Brief Foreword from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large –

A look at Lake Erie at its worst. Toxic algae – a product of pollutants running off from rural and urban areas around the lakes – smothers fish populations and makes the water virtually unusable in so many other ways

With all of the disturbing news about our environment we are facing these days, how welcoming it is to receive some good news every once in a while.

On that score, here is a report from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, issued this past August, that for the first time in 60 years, there is solid evidence of Lake Trout reproducing in Lake Erie.

One of the reasons I wanted to cover environmental issues at The St. Catharines Standard when I was hired by the newspaper in 1979 was the ongoing reports that Lake Erie, as a healthy body of fresh water and a sustainable  ecosystem for fish and birds and a host of other species, was literally dying from the phosphorus pollution suffocating the lake. Most of that pollution was coming from municipal wastewater outfalls and from farmlands in both Ontario and U.S. states, including Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York State. Continue reading

Ontario Premier Ford Condemns Anti-Vaxxer Protests In A Tweet

Posted September 13th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Ontario Premier Doug Ford

Ontario’s Premier condemned the continued harassment of health-care workers and in and out-going patients by anti-vaxxer fanatics at hospitals across the province with the following statement he issued on his Twitter page.

“The protests we’re seeing outside of hospitals are selfish, cowardly and reckless. Our health care workers have sacrificed so much to keep us all safe during this pandemic. They don’t deserve this kind of treatment — not now, not ever. Leave our health care workers alone.” – Ontario Premier Doug Ford

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

Niagara-Based Community Coastal Monitoring Program Will Inspire Stewardship Of Shoreline Resiliency

“Climate change is causing significant and far-reaching impacts on the Great Lakes and the Great Lakes region. The coastal areas of the Great Lakes are exposed to many stressors and … a new, integrated approach, VAST, has been established to understand these stressors and their cumulative impacts, so that actions can be taken to remediate and protect this valuable resource.”             – Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority

A News Release from the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority

Posted September 8th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – The Niagara Coastal Community Collaborative (Niagara Coastal), Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA), and Niagara College have partnered to launch a community-based monitoring program to engage the coastal communities of Lake Erie, in the stewardship of shoreline resiliency and healthy coastal ecosystems.

The sandy shores of Lake Erie in the Fort Erie/Port Colborne, Ontario area. Photo courtesy of Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority.

This partnership provides a framework to facilitate collaboration on future restoration projects through the NPCA Restoration Grant Program, implementation of Niagara’s Visual Assessment Survey Tool (VAST), and planning of future efforts towards shoreline resiliency across the Niagara Peninsula watershed. Continue reading

Ontario NDP Calls On Ford To Stop War On Environment After Court Rules He Broke The Law – AGAIN!

“It looks like Mr. Ford will do anything his buddies (in the development industry) want — no matter what it costs the rest of us, or how legal it is.”

A Statement from Sandy Shaw, Ontario NDP critic for Environment, Conservation and Parks

Posted September 8th, 2021 on Niagara At Large 

In Doug Ford country, getting Ontario back in business again means paving over anything

HAMILTON, Ontario  — Sandy Shaw, Ontario NDP critic for Environment, Conservation and Parks, released the following statement in response to a court ruling finding Doug Ford and his government broke the law when it passed Bill 197:

“Doug Ford’s war on the environment is dangerous for everyone, and our kids and grandkids will pay an especially high price. Not that we needed any further proof, but we now have confirmation from the courts that Mr. Ford broke the law yet again with this assault on the environment.

“It looks like Mr. Ford will do anything his buddies want — no matter what it costs the rest of us, or how legal it is. Continue reading

This Year’s Drums Across Canada, in Niagara, Ontario, Seeks to Unite the Nation

A Celebration of Nations, Hosted at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in St.  atharines – Friday, September| 10th through Sunday, September 12th

All Indigenous Peoples and Allies from all four directions of the country are invited to join in!

A News Release from Celebration of Nations and the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre

Posted September 9th ,2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – New to Celebration of Nations this year, Artistic Director Michele-Elise Burnett has created a powerful program called Drums Across Canada to bridge our country together in unity, to send love, and to heal.

Beginning in downtown St. Catharines in the backyard of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre at 4pm EST on Sunday 12 September, the drum will be shared with three anchor drum circles in Saint John, New Brunswick; London, Ontario and Nanaimo, British Columbia. Continue reading

Fifth Annual #WeAreLake Erie Social Media Event Draws Attention To The Challenges Lake Erie Is Currently Facing

Ontario and U.S. residents share why they love Lake Erie on – Online Wednesday August 25th  (See Details for Participating Below)

An Invite from Environmental Defence, Canadian Freshwater Alliance, And Freshwater Future Canada

Posted August 23rd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Toxic algae growing in Lake Erie – a byproduct of farm chemicals and poorly treated urban wastewater flows – is killing fish populations

Toronto, Ontario  As Lake Erie continues to be plagued by annual and often toxic algal blooms, Ontarians and Americans are answering a rallying cry on social media to demand urgent action to protect the lake and, along with it, drinking water for millions of people and many complex ecosystems.

August 25 is the 5th #WeAreLakeErie Day on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Throughout the day, social media users will be sharing their Lake Erie stories and photos by using the hashtag #WeAreLakeErie to help create a virtual wave of support for the lake. The event is a chance to demonstrate to decision-makers the important role the lake plays in the lives of so many people. Continue reading

This Federal Election, Vote for Climate Action

“Pollution and climate change by excessive burning of fossil fuels are real threats, not the people who warn that we must take these threats seriously.”                                                                                       – David Suzuki, Canadian Academic & Environmental Broadcaster

“Twenty-five years ago people could be excused for not knowing much, or doing much, about climate change. Today we have no excuse. “                                                                                                         Desmond Tutu, Former Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa

“Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people, to give them hope, but I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.”  – Greta Thunberg, 18 year-old Swedish Activist

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

Posted August 16th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

To all of us in Niagara, Ontario and the rest of Canada who may not have wanted a federal election now, but thanks to Justin Trudeau and his Liberals, here we are, here is just one more quote I want to lay on you from one of the many authors around the world of a United Nations report released earlier this August called “Code Red for Humanity” “There’s really one key message that emerges from this report,” said Kim Cobb, Ph.D., Professor of earth and atmospheric sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology. “We are out of time.”

We are out of time, indeed. It may already be too damn late.

Even as the list of climate-related disasters in Canada has grown, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberals have continued shovelling billions of tax dollars in subsidies and infrastructure work into the ultra-filthy tar sands operations. Under Trudeau, Canada is the only G7 country that is throwing more carbon polluting, climate ravaging garbage into the earth’s atmosphere.

Yet instead of addressing this pressing climate crisis – in the wake of this red-alert UN report, and wild Fires, deadly heat and drought that is costing human lives, destroying whole communities and causing the price of life, including food costs, to soar for the rest of us – here is Justin Trudeau and his Liberals calling an election right now.

When he announced this election after a trip to Rideau Hall this August 15th to receive the consent from a Queen (who probably doesn’t give a rat’s ass what Trudeau is doings here), Trudeau said, among other things, that one of the reasons he is calling a snap election is that ‘Canadians want immediate action on climate change now!”

He is so right, but he and his Liberals, including two in Niagara Ontario, Vance Badawey and Chris Bittle, have had six years to act on climate change now.

Instead, they continued to pour multi-billions of dollars of our tax money into building pipeline and other infrastructure for the tar sands and continuing to subsidize the petro-chemical industry in Canada right up to now. Continue reading

Where Is Canada’s Leadership On The Climate Crisis?

“We are in a climate emergency, and Canadians need our governments to act like it.”

A Statement from Dale Marshall, National Climate Program Manager for Environmental Defence Canada, on the United Nation’s IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report

Posted August 10th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Even as the list of climate-related disasters in Canada has grown, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberals have continued shovelling billions of tax dollars in subsidies and infrastructure work into the ultra-filthy tar sands operations.

Ottawa, Ontario – This science in the IPCC’s report released today makes it clearer than ever that Canada cannot waste time and money on false solutions being pushed by oil and gas companies that sanction more oil and gas production.

Fossil fuel companies are overwhelmingly responsible for the problem in the first place and have spent years misleading the public about climate change and weakening our climate laws.

We are in a climate emergency, and Canadians need our governments to act like it. That means phasing out fossil fuels as quickly as possible, implementing a fair transition for workers and communities, and ramping up clean, cheap, reliable, renewable energy.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE ( Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

To read a piece posted on Niagara At Large this August 9th about the United Nations report, click on –

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

Brock U. Researchers Want To Hear From Teachers About Pandemic And Return-To-Classroom Experiences

“Teachers have faced an incredible number of challenges during the pandemic, such as having to adapt to completely different learning environments with no warning. We want to understand their experiences. …”                                                                                  – Sirianni Molnar, Professor of Child and Youth Studies, Brock University.

News from Brock University in Niagara, Ontario

Posted August 6th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Brock University researcer Danielle Sirianni Molnar

All eyes are on September following the Ontario government’s recent unveiling of its back-to-school plan.

Brock University Professor of Child and Youth Studies Dawn Zinga and Associate Professor Danielle Sirianni Molnar want to make sure teachers’ voices are being heard and understood as schools re-open.

“I think of teachers as being front-line workers of a different sort,” says Zinga. “They were there with the students face to face and they were there in students’ homes virtually during long periods of the pandemic, yet we didn’t hear a lot about that side of things,” she says.

To that end, the duo has launched a survey of teachers as part of their study “Teachers’ Perspectives on the Pandemic.”

“Teachers have faced an incredible number of challenges during the pandemic, such as having to adapt to completely different learning environments with no warning,” says Sirianni Molnar. Continue reading

Come Experience a Traditional Asian Water-Lantern Ceremony in Niagara

 Ceremony to Take Place August 6, 2021 from 4:00 PM to 8:30 PM, Chippawa Park Pond, off First Avenue in Welland/Niagara

An Invited from the Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre

Posted August 4th, 2021 onNiagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – Held this Friday, August 6th, 2021, from 4:00 PM to 8:30 PM at the Chippawa Park Pond in Welland, this quiet and personal reflective event is family-friendly and designed to especially accommodate those with mobility and sensory/auditory concerns.Held .

This event is also designed to address anti-Asian racism, by creating a safe space, using art to encourage dialogue, compassion and understanding.

To ensure proper Provincial Covid-19 safety compliance limiting the number of on-site attendees, all participants-free and those purchasing Enhanced Experience Tickets, MUST pre-register to attend the event. Continue reading

Feds Free Funding to Assist Niagara, Ontario’s Struggling Tourism Sector

Government of Canada investment supports recovery of Niagara Region tourism sector $2 million for Niagara’s tourism-dependent businesses, maintaining 325 jobs

“Live theatre has been decimated by the pandemic, but the grant we received from FedDev Ontario has kept Thorold Community Theatre alive and focused on the future.” – Diana Burse, Thorold Community Theatre

News from the Niagara Centre Constituency Office of Liberal Government MP Vance Badawey

Posted July 29th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – Niagara Region’s tourism industry is known across Canada and the world. Traditionally, millions of annual visitors take in the Falls, sample vintages from world-class wineries and discover the region’s many historical and cultural attractions.

At centre from left, Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley and Niagara Centre Liberal MP Vance Badawey, flanked by the staff of Pie Guys, a popular shop in Port Colborne/Niagara that benefits from a robust tourist industry in the region. Photo courtesy of Vance Badawey’s constituency office

Tourism is essential to the vitality of the region and is a lifeline for  many local businesses. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on tourism operators, but with Government of Canada support, businesses are preparing to build forward and prepare for a more stable economic future.

Today (this July 29th), Vance Badawey, Member of Parliament for Niagara Centre announced a non-repayable FedDev Ontario investment of $2 million for the Regional Municipality of Niagara<> to support the recovery of the Niagara Region tourism industry. … Continue reading

Niagara At Large Is Doing A Bit of Snoozing Now and Through the Coming Long Weekend

A Brief Message from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher      Doug Draper

Posted July 29th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

If you a regular visitor to our Niagara At Large site, you may already have noticed that this week we have not been posting as much news and commentary as usual.

This is just a message to let you know that this will continue to be the case through the coming July 31st to August 2nd holiday weekend.

That is not to say that we won’t be posting a few things. We will, but at a time when we are in the dog day of summer and there aren’t as many meetings, etc. as usual going on anyway, we are taking the advantage of the opportunity to shift into a lower gear for just a little while. Continue reading

Niagara Region’s Council On-Line Meetings Are Turning Into a Sad, Mad Joke

It is Time to Swing Open the Doors of Our Niagara Regional Headquarters to Fully Vaccinated Citizens

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

Posted July 25th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Last Thursday’s meeting of Niagara Regional Council began on such a high note.

Why do individuals like West Lincoln Mayor and Regional Councillor David Byslma get to hijack valuable time at our Regional Council meetings with nonsense that may appeal to their peculiar base, but have little to do with the challenges most Niagara residents are facing in this region? Where is the Niagara Regional Chair and his gavel? Is anything out of order?

The high note came shortly after the Region’s Chair, Jim Bradley, called the July 22nd meeting to order, when Susan Venditti, who recently retired as CEO of Start Me Up Niagara (an organization that has done so much selfless work for fellow citizens in need, delivered some gracious words for

Then, in less time that it takes to fire a backyard barbecue up high enough to cook some ribs, the meeting devolved into a ‘Alice in Wonderland’ script featuring the Mad Hatter in subterranean world  that very few of the rest of us in this Niagara regional are living above  ground.

The Mad Hatter – my latest brand for the ever so loopy West Lincoln Mayor and Regional Councillor Dave Bylsma – interjected not once, but twice during the meeting to raise the issues of COVID-19 vaccines and women’s menstrual cycles and the burning down of churches.

Now I don’t know about you, but when I turn into a Niagara Regional Council meeting I am hoping to hear our elected councillors discussing and debating some of the real challenges we face in this region, around jobs, affordable housing, the need for a robust regional transit system, containing urban sprawl, a climate action plan, and on and on.

What in in the name of any God you may worship does women’s menstrual cycles have to do with any of the very real struggles people across this Niagara region are facing today? Continue reading

Ford Held Back On Funding Assistance For Health Care and Other Needs During Pandemic

Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office Shows The Ford Government Withheld $10.3 Billion From Ontarians, Including Over $1 Billion For Long-Term Care And Public Health

A News Release from Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party

Posted July 21st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Has Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his Conservative government really been doing everything then can to get COVID-19 funding assistance to those who really need it?

A new report from the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) shows the Ford government withheld $10.3 billion from Ontarians during the pandemic, including sitting on over $1 billion earmarked for long-term care and public health.

“While our loved ones suffered in long-term care, businesses struggled through painfully long lockdowns, and the province could not keep up with things like contract tracing, the Ford government was squirrelling away billions of dollars that they refused to invest to help Ontarians,” said NDP Finance critic Catherine Fife.

The FAO report shows that the government spent $10.3 billion less than promised last year. The FAO reported Ford withheld over $1 billion in health care funds during the pandemic, plus $368 million in funding for public health and $95 million for long-term care. Continue reading

Join a Free Webinar Discussion on Plastic Pollution in Our Great Lakes

Wednesday, July 28th at 1 P.M. Eastern Time – You Can Find Registration Information Below

An Invite from the American-based citizens organization, Alliance for the Great Lakes

Posted July 19th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Each year, Adopt-a-Beach volunteers (on the American side of the Great Lakes) pick up over 50,000 pounds of trash from Great Lakes beaches.

The vast majority of it is plastic. How do we know that? Volunteers record and tally every item they pick up. This vast data set is used by researchers to learn more about plastic pollution in the Great Lakes.

Join us on Wednesday, July 28 at 1pm Eastern/12pm Central to hear how one researcher is using Adopt-a-Beach data and what it tells us about plastic pollution in the Great Lakes. [] Continue reading

Thanks to Niagara MPP Jeff Burch, the Ford Government’s Controversial Land-Use Policies Are Being Investigated

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

Posted July 18th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Centre NDP MPP and the party’s municipal affairs critic  Jeff Burch

A call by Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch for a deep probe of the Ontario Ford government’s controversial land-use policies has been answered with a green light at the Office of Ontario Auditor-General Bonnie Lysyk.

According to a breaking story in the Friday, July 16th edition of The Globe and Mail, Lysyk and her team of investigators, who have not shied away from being highly critical of the current Conservative government and former Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne when they believe the facts they uncover warrants it, have already begun looking into concerns raised by Burch and others that the so-called land-use policies the Ford government is pursuing are based far less on good planning practices than on the profit-making interests of their friends and allies in Ontario’s development industry. Continue reading

While Ontario Citizens Continue Suffering from COVID-19 Fallout, Premier Ford Hosts Fundraisers for his Party’s Wealthy Donors

“We know hanging out with rich backroom insiders and lobbyists is Doug Ford’s cup of tee, but Ontarians deserve better.” – Ontario NDP Ethics critic Taras Natyshak on Doug Ford’s $1,000-per-person Golf Fundraiser

A Statement from Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party

Posted July 14th on Niagara At Large

Ontario NDP statement on Ford’s $1,000-a-round golf fundraiser in Muskoka

QUEEN’S PARK — Ontario NDP Ethics and Accountability critic Taras Natyshak released the following statement on tomorrow’s $1,000-per-person Doug Ford and friends golfing fundraiser in Muskoka:

“Ontarians are rightfully teed off that Doug Ford has time to sell access to himself and his cabinet for a thousand bucks and a few golf balls to insiders and lobbyists in Muskoka.

Instead of top priorities like fixing the backlog in health care procedures and tests, helping small businesses survive the pandemic or developing a real plan for a safe September in schools, Doug Ford is teeing off with his ministers and those with deep pockets,” said Taras Natysak. Continue reading

Trudeau’s Climate Plan Falls Short of What is Needed to Address Catastrophic Climate-Related Destruction

‘Recent catastrophic climate events, like heat waves and wildfires that have killed hundreds, show the suffering caused by inaction’

A News Release from Environmental Defence, one of Canada’s largest not-for-profit advocacy groups for addressing environmental issues

Posted July 13th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

A Statement from Environmental Defence’s Dale Marshall, National Climate Program Manager, on Canada’s Updated Paris Climate Agreement Pledge

Justin Trudeau and his government Liberals still sinking billions of dollars of subsidies into climate-ravaging tar sand operations

Ottawa, Ont. – We are disappointed that the Canadian government has decided to not do its fair share of the action needed to avoid catastrophic climate change. Our research shows that a more ambitious domestic target of 60 per cent reductions by 2030 would have benefited most Canadians, by improving the health of our communities and lowering our energy costs.

Recent catastrophic climate events, like heat waves and wildfires that have killed hundreds, show the suffering caused by inaction.

Instead, the government once again failed to reign in oil and gas emissions by continuing to ignore the most important measure: the phase out of oil and gas production in Canada. Continue reading

St. Catharines Council Move to Bestow Heritage Designation on Welland House Hotel Now Seems Like a Bad Joke

Or Have We Just Entered Just Entered the Twilight Zone?

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

Posted July 13th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – With images of the smoldering remains of the historic Welland House Hotel still in my mind, I woke up this morning to a headline in the online version of The St. Catharines Standard that read; St. Catharines designates destroyed Welland House under heritage act.


Did I just cross over to the Twilight Zone. I am almost expecting Twilight Zone producer to walk out behind the charred wreckage of the building and tell me I did.

This heritage designation was reportedly approved by a majority of St. Catharines City Council at a meeting this past Monday, July 12th meeting while smoke was still rising from the rubble at the corner of Ontario and King Streets in the city’s downtown, where the building stood for 168 years. Sorry to resort to sarcasm, but how many of St. Catharines councillors know that the building burned down? Continue reading

Watchdog or Lapdog – What Ever Happened to Environmental Protection in Ontario?

“For almost two years, a citizens group, The Coalition for a Better St. Catharines, has been urging the (Ontario) Ministry (of Environment, Conservation and Parks) and the City to get this site cleaned up and, in the interim, monitor the perimeter for any leakage of contaminants off the site

“Yet when asked in early 2020 about possible leaks of contaminants from this industrial site, the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) stated that the site was secure and there was no evidence to the contrary.”

An Editorial from the Coalition for a Better St. Catharines, a coalition  ‘advocating for a better City for all’

Posted July 8th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

What the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks seems to look like under the jackboots of the current Ford government. This once proud Environment Ministry has turned into a sad joke of what it once was going back to the Ontario governments of Conservative Bill Davis and Liberal David Peterson.

If there was ever a wake-up call for St. Catharines residents who believe their health and environment are safe from exposure to of toxic industrial wastes, it’s the fact that the Ontario of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) has identified “very high PCB concentrations in water” [1] coming from the former GM site.

After being practically ignored by our Ministry of Environment, the site is now a beehive of activity.

“There is an ongoing discharge of water from the site with unacceptable levels of PCBs” MECP Comments on MTE Draft Technical Memo (April 9, 2021) Continue reading

Remembering Two Wonderful Cats

A Brief Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted July 7th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Our sweet friend Dylan, and yes, he had two different coloured eyes, which was only the beginning of what made him unique.

After 20 beloved years in our family, he took a few labored breaths while sleeping in my arms and passed out of our lives.

His name was Dylan and yes, to some, he was only a cat, but he was a most wise and loving member of this family of ours. And we still miss him, as we do Dexter, another cat in our home at the time who cried out loud – yes he did – while Dylan was breathing his last, and who left us a few weeks later.

It’s as if Dexter knew Dylan was passing, and it took such a toll on him that he, at the age of 16, decided to give it up too. Continue reading

Have a Happy and Safe Fourth of July America – We Hope You Really and Truly Are Back

A Brief Comment from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large

Posted July 4th, 2021

January 6th. 2021 was insurrection day in America, and millions of Trump cultists continue to call it “patriotism”

America’s current U.S. President Joe Biden – a President that tens-of-millions of Trump cultist in the United States do not accept as their president – has tried telling the world that ‘America is back’ as a beacon for democracy and as a partner in the free world.

We hope so, but when you watch what is happening around so many Trump supporters going along with each and every assault on the values and institutions of American democracy as an act of patriotism, whether or not America is back remains a wide open question.

How many Americans are willing to stand up and speak out for the democratic values their country has long taken pride in standing for? We shall see.

How long will the values that Lady Liberty in New York Harbour survive, even as Trump and his cult followers work so hard to destry them?

Here is a short video on Lady Liberty you can watch by clicking on –

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

NPCA Conducting Forest and Stream Rehabilitation Work at Two Mile Creek Conservation Area in NOTL

‘The operation will address concerns of ash tree mortality, trail-user safety, ecosystem diversity, and creek debris, while preserving the healthy upland forest in other parts of the site.’

A News Release from the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority in Niagara, Ontario

Posted July 2nd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) will conduct forest and stream rehabilitation work at the Two Mile Creek Conservation Area in Niagara-on-the-Lake starting July 5. The operation will address concerns of ash tree mortality, trail-user safety, ecosystem diversity, and creek debris, while preserving the healthy upland forest in other parts of the site.

A trail through the Two-Mile Creek Conservation Area in Niagara-on-the-Lake. NPCA photo

The operation will begin in Treatment Area “A” and Treatment Area “B” (see map), with the objective of a ‘stand conversion’, where the dominate ash tree forest cover will be removed and replaced with a young forest of mixed tree species through subsequent reforestation activity. Continue reading

O Canada – A Prelude and Anthem

A Brief Canada Day Note from Doug Draper at NAL

Posted July 1st. 2021 on Niagara At Large

This Canada Day offers us an opportunity to reflect on what we should be proud of as a country and, yes, on past injustices and shames, with a resolve to confront them and make sure they never happen again.

It is also a time to confront the challenges we face in Canada today – Continue reading

U.S. Congressmen Mark Canada Day with Push to Re-Open Canada-U.S. Border Crossings

U.S. Congressman Higgins & Assemblyman Rivera Mark Canada Day With Joint Push to Reopen the Border Between the United States & Canada

Federal & State Leaders Representing the Peace Bridge Say People Have Been Separated for Too Long

A News Release from the Buffalo, New York Office of U.S. Democratic Congressman Brian Higgins

Posted July 1st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Buffalo, New York area Brian Higgins, seen in this file photo, speaking at a news conference with Peace Bridge crossing in background

The week including Canada Day, July 1, and Independence Day, July 4, typically tends to be one of the busiest times of the year for cross-border travel between the United States and Canada.

However, this year the border remains closed to non-essential travel and federal and state leaders representing the border community that includes the Peace Bridge are frustrated by the lack of progress. Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) and New York State Assemblymember Jonathan D. Rivera are both pushing for action. Continue reading

This Canada Day Should Be A Day of Reflection

A Brief Canada Day Note from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted June 30th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Oh Canada, where do we go from here?

This Canada Day, I find myself in the body of people who do not want to cancel Canada Day completely, but is in agreement with those who wish to use it as a day of reflection on where we are now and where do we go from here.

We certainly need to confront a history of racism and cruel and  unfortunately even some of the murderous acts committed against peoples who are Indigenous, Muslim, Jewish, Black, Brown and others who don’t fit in with what our country’s federal Conservative government does not embrace as an “old stock Canadian.” Continue reading

The Ravaging Impact of Climate Change on Communities Across Canada

Canada Releases National Issues Report on Climate Change Adaptation

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

Posted June 29th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Maybe you heard that this past Monday, June 27, the community of Lytton in British Columbia  suffered  the highest temperatures ever recorded in Canadian history.

That record was set at scorching 47.9 degrees Celsius or 118 degrees Fahrenheit, if you will. Do you want to risk a heat stroke through that?

The hellish heat wave now frying communities across western Canada and the United States is literally threatening people’s lives, placing an enormous and very costly strain on energy services and other infrastructure, and raising their risks of even more devastating wildfires.

Regions of the mid-western United States and Canada are also now experiencing severe droughts that  could ravage crop-growing lands and drive up costs at the grocery store even further for all of us at a time when many are struggling to recover economically from more than 14 months of pandemic. Continue reading

Ontario’s Niagara Parks Mourns Latest Discovery of Mass Graves for 751 Indigenous Children With Illumination Of Canadian and American Falls

A News Release from Ontario’ Niagara Parks Commission

Posted June 25th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Falls to be Illuminated in Honour of Victims of the Residential School System

Niagara Falls, Ontario – The Niagara Falls Illumination Board will be illuminating both the Canadian Horseshoe and American Falls in orange tonight, this Friday June 25th, from 10:15 to 11:15pm in memory of the 751 Indigenous children discovered in unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school in Saskatchewan.

Niagara Falls was previously illuminated in orange on May 30 in memory of 215 Indigenous children discovered in a mass grave at a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia. Continue reading

PROTECING PETS – ‘PAWS’ and Think Twice Before Leaving Your Pet in a Hot Car

Call 911 if you are concerned an animal’s life is in danger

A Message from Ontario’s Ministry of the Solicitor General

Posted June 21st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO — The Ontario government is urging everyone to take the necessary precautions to keep their pets safe and protected during the hot summer months.

Temperatures inside a vehicle can quickly become hotter than the temperature outside even if windows are left slightly open.

Pets can be put at risk of serious illness and possibly death due to heat exposure as a result of being left in a vehicle. If pets cannot leave the car and go with their owners, then leave them at home where they will be safe, cool, and comfortable. Continue reading

Canada-U.S. Border Crossing Ban Extended  to July 21st

A Question to Federal Governments – Is There Any Plan Afoot for Easing Border Crossing Restrictions? Or Do Border Communities Not Count As a Priority?

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

Posted June 19th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Canada-U.S. border crossings like this – Peace Bridge between Niagara, Ontario and Buffalo, New York – remain a bridge too far for our federal governments, even for people who have been fully vaccinated and haven’t seen loved ones on other side for more than 14 months now.

Federal governments in Canada and the United States – much to the chagrin of growing numbers of their citizens hoping there would finally be some easing of  border crossing restrictions – announced this June 18th that they would leave what is virtually a blanket ban on “non-essential” crossings in place for at least another month – until July 21st.

Earlier on in the pandemic, before there was access to a vaccine and you had a president of the U.S. in the name of Donald Trump and too many U.S. governors publicly downplaying the seriousness of the COVID-19 plague, it made all the sense in the world to continue a border-crossing ban that began in March, 2020.

This journalist was in complete agreement with keeping the border closed to non-essential then, and I was equally outraged by reports that some so-called Canadian ‘Snowbirds’ found ways to crossing anyway.

How does hiring a charter flight across the border on a helicopter and plane, and having some bogus business entity drive your car across the border, so you can get back in it and drive all the way down to Florida constitute an “essential service?” Continue reading

Niagara Region Commits $44.5 Million to Support South Niagara Hospital Site

 “The South Niagara hospital project signifies another significant investment in Niagara that will bring economic growth to our region, drive innovation and support the health and well-being for generations to come.”                                       – Jim Bradley, Chair, Niagara Regional Council

Niagara Regional Council has committed $44.5 million (of Niagara resident’s tax money) in principle to support the South Niagara hospital’s local share funding portion.

A  News Release from Niagara Health, Niagara’s system of amalgamated hospital services

Posted June 18th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

The billboard at the site for the so-called new South Niagara Hospital – interestingly enough called the Niagara Falls Hospital here – located near the Thundering Waters Forest and its signficant wetlands in the Niagara River watershed that might very well be gutted for urban development when this hospital goes in at this location. This cutline is a comment by NAL reporter Doug Draper and not Niagara Health

Niagara, Ontario – Following thorough discussions at Niagara Region’s Budget Review, Committee of the Whole meeting on June 17th, financial commitment was approved, dependent on final budget approval. Payment of the local share portion will follow the opening of the new hospital, and over a several year payment period through tax levies.

The local share is the portion of funding for which a hospital is responsible. Hospitals are responsible for 10 per cent of the eligible construction costs of a new build and 100 per cent of the costs associated with the purchase of new and replacement furniture, fixtures and equipment. Continue reading

St. Catharines MPP Calls for Action to Stop Billionaire Corporation from Buying Up Area Homes

“This (corporate buy-up scheme) will make the dream of home ownership even further out of reach for people in my community. It will drive up housing prices. And it will force young people to leave this community to find an affordable home.”                           – St. Catharines NDP MPP Jennie Stevens

A News Release and Open Letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford from St Catharines MPP Jennie Stevens

Posted June 17th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

ST.CATHARINES/Niagara  — NDP MPP Jennie Stevens is calling on Doug Ford to take action to stop a corporation from buying up $1 billion in single family homes in St. Catharines and a handful of other cities — massively driving up the price of buying a home in St. Catharines.

Core Development Group plans to convert those single-family homes to two-family rental units.

Stevens has sent a letter to Doug Ford , demanding action, including the adoption of NDP plans to prevent housing speculators and property barons from actions just like that.

Here is St. Ctharines MPP Jennie Stevens’ Open Letter to the Premier of Ontario –

Continue reading

Doug Ford Rams Through His Attack On Our Democracy

Ford Conservatives Make Unprecedented Use of Constitutional Over-Ride Clause to Muzzle Critics in Year Leading Up to Next Provincial Election

A News Release from Ontario’s Liberal Party

Posted June 14th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO – Steven Del Duca, Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, issued the following statement:

“Today is a sad day for our democracy. In the cover of darkness, Doug Ford has rammed through legislation that will undermine our right to free speech by silencing his critics.

Doug Ford’s power grab is nothing more than an attempt to save his own political skin while changing the rules of an election he’s already running in.

Make no mistake, Doug Ford is silencing the frontline heroes — the nurses, doctors, teachers, essential workers, and personal support workers who are speaking out against his government. Continue reading

A Young Muslim Girl Leaves the Gift of a Beautiful Message to Us All

“Shoot For The Moon. Even If You Miss, You’ll Land Among The Stars”

A Brief Comment from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large

Posted June 9th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

During the very moving memorial gathering in London, Ontario this June 8th, for four members of a Muslim family murdered, and a young member of that same family seriously injured, in an act of hate, we learned about one member of that family – 15-year-old Yumma Afzaal – who was an aspirring artist.

On the wall of a school she attended, she and her mother, also murdered, left the gift of the mural below.

What a beautiful gift this mural is. Just to think that a virus of hate that we have in this country wiped the future of this beautiful young lady away. What are we going to do about it?

More on this horrific event later on Niagara At Large and the words of some of Canada’s leading politicians had to do with enabling it. Stay tuned.

For more on Yumma Afzaal and the mural, click on the video screen immediately below –

Below are the members of the Afzaal family, with Umma at left, followed by her mother, grandmother and father, all wiped out by a young, white supremacist in a pick-up truck who saw them waiting at a crosswalk and ecided to drive right through them.

Yumna Afzaal, 15, left, Madiha Salman, 44, centre left, Talat Afzaal, 74, and Salman Afzaal, 46, right, were out for an evening walk when they were run over by a man who police say was motivated by anti-Muslim hate.

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

Hey Mayor Bylsma – Apologies Don’t Work If You “Continue To Be An “A-Hole”

A Brief Comment from Linda McKellar, a Fort Erie resident and retired hospital emergency ward nurse

Posted May 25th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Apologies don’t amount to squat if you continue to be an A-hole.

West Lincoln Mayor and Niagara Regional Councillor David Bylsma speaking out against COVID-19 protection measures at a large rally in St. Catharines, Ontario this past April. Many feel it really is time for this dangerous screwball to go.

Sadly, many people gravitate to such screwballs. He’s our own local Marjorie Taylor Greene. She equates masks to the Jewish gold stars worn during the Holocaust. I wonder if Bylsma also believes in Jewish space lasers causing forest fires as she does.

The worst pandemic right now is ignorance. Not stupidity but ignorance, simply not bothering to search out the facts.

We can’t soar like eagles if we flock with turkeys.

An Afterword from Doug Draper  at Niagara At Large –

This comment, from retired Niagara, Ontario medical nurse Linda McKellar was a response to what is so pathetically left of any response by our neighours in the United States to deal rationally with issues of hatred and COVID-19. Continue reading

Have a Happy, Healthy and Safe Victoria Day – 2021

A Brief One from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted May 24th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Oops, that’s not really her. Well, what do you expect from a cat person.

She may have passed on 120 years ago, but that doesn’t mean we will still can’t celebrate her birth, way back in 1819 on the 24th day of May.

I can’t let this first warm long-weekend leading to what we hope will be a much better summer across Canada pass without playing a song by one of my favourite old bands from my teeny bopper days.

Happy Victoria Day everyone from Niagara At Large and The Kinks. (To hear and watch, click on the screen immediately below.)

Stay health and safe, and if you haven’t been vaccinated for COVID yet, please do it! Never mind what some of the wing nuts among us say about “bio-warfare” and masked fascists.

Without the vaccines, and all of the mask-wearing and social distancing we must continue to do in certain places until this killer virus is subdued, we would not be in the more positive place we are today.

Here is too a healthier, fairer, greener, post-pandemic future.

  • 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

Are You Outraged at The Ford Gov’t’s Response on Long-Term Care?

Pack The Public Galleries Of The Ontario Legislature (Virtually) – This Tuesday May 18 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Use the hashtag #FordFailedSeniors

A Call-Out from the Ontario Health Coalition, a citizens advocacy group for quality public health care across the province

Posted May 17th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

We can’t fill the Legislature physically during the shutdown but we can organize thousands of Ontarians to pack the Public Galleries virtually for Question Period.

– Join the Facebook livestream with live comment & send in your reaction

  • – Watch Doug Ford & his Ministers as Opposition Parties welcome all of us, demand answers, raise your questions and experiences
  • – Press conference on the livestream: noon immediately following Question Period

Pour on the pressure. Make the Ford government take responsibility & commit to finally fix LTC.
Continue reading

Ford Appoints Mike Harris’s Former Anti-Greenbelt MPP and Environmental Protection Hatchet Man to Chair Ontario’s Greenbelt Council

Appointment of former Mike Harris environment minister Norm Sterling to Greenbelt Council Spells Another Blow to Ontario’s Natural Heritage

“Putting the fox (in this case Norm Sterling) in charge of the henhouse is classic Doug Ford. Time and time again Ford has been busted trying to pave the Greenbelt as a favour to his donors. Ontarians have a right to be worried about this appointment.”                                                                                              – Sandy Shaw, Ontario NDP Environment critic

A Brief Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper followed by Information circulated by Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party

Posted April 30th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

When the former Ontario Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty  declared almost two million acres of farmland in the Golden Horseshoe e in 2005 as a protected Greenbelt zone, the move was praised by the United Nations and by countries around the world.

Here in Ontario, though, there have always been representatives from the farming community, among them Niagara North Federation of Agriculture rep Austin Kirby, and the development industry in the province who have viewed the Greenbelt as a “nightmare” and as an unwanted obstacle to property speculation and urban sprawl.

In 2018, just a few months before the last Ontario election, Conservative leader Doug Ford was caught on a video tape, promising supporters in the development industry that he would allow the selling off of “chunks” of the Greenbelt if he were elected Premier. (click the video at the bottom of this post if you have not yet seen it.)

Since then, Ford and his Conservative government have motored ahead with one move after another that has weakened or completely eliminated rules and programs for protecting and preserving what is left of Ontario’s natural resources – so much so that last year, former Toronto mayor David Crombie and six members of his staff on the province’s Greenbelt Council, there to help preserve the greenbelt lands from north of Lake Ontario to Niagara-on-the-Lake, quit in protest.

So what does Ford and his government do?

They turn around this April and appoint former Conservative MPP Norm Sterling to Crombie’s old position as chair of Ontario’s Greenbelt Council. Continue reading

Ontario’s Paid Sick Day Program Is A Step In The Right Direction

“Our position continues to be that business, particularly small businesses, simply cannot afford the additional financial responsibility to fund sick leave at this time, which is why the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce support the notion of a temporary paid sick program that is paid for by government.”

A News Release from the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Posted April 29th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce CEO Mishka Baisom

Niagara, Ontario – This April 29th, Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce CEO Mishka Balsom and Ontario Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rocco Rossi released the following joint statement in reaction to the Government of Ontario’s Paid Sick Day Program Proposal announced today: –  

“Today’s announcement by the Government of Ontario is a step in the right direction to protect essential workers. Ontario is the only province that has committed to a paid sick day program during the pandemic.

The proposed provincial top up to the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit is also encouraging but is contingent on federal government participation and does not address other shortcomings of the federal program, such as processing delays.

We would like to see all levels of governments open to further adjustments of their programs – as they have been with other programs rolled out in the pandemic – to ensure programs meets the needs of workers and the market in Niagara. Continue reading

Ford’s Offer of Three Paid Sick Days Shortchanges Ontario’s Workers

A Statement from Ontario NDP Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath on paid sick days bill

Posted April 29th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

QUEEN’S PARK — Official Opposition leader Andrea Horwath released the following statement in response to the passage of a bill that gives people just three paid sick days, only until September:

“The bill that passed Thursday offering people a pathetically inadequate three paid sick days is not good enough — especially not during a global pandemic that makes people sick for at least 14 days. Continue reading

Trudeau Vows to Slash Canada’s Climate-Ravaging Emissions by More than 40 Per Cent by 2030

Prime Minister’s Announcement Comes this Earth Day at Joe-Biden Hosted Climate Summit. It Also Falls After Years of Canada Falling Behind in Cutting Emissions

“Canada is a committed partner in the global fight against climate change, and together we will build a cleaner and more prosperous future for all.”                                                                       – Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

A News Release from the Office of Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Posted April 22nd , 2021 on Niagara At Large

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with U.S. President Joe Biden on screen in background, makes announcement at virtual global Climate Summit this April 22nd

Ottawa, Ontario – Climate change is the greatest long-term threat that we face as a global community, but it is also our greatest economic opportunity.

By taking bold climate action, we will create new jobs for the future, strengthen our economy, and grow the middle class, while also ensuring clean air and water for our kids and grandkids.

During today’s Leaders Summit on Climate, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, announced that Canada will enhance our emissions reduction target under the Paris Agreement – known as a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) – by 40-45% below 2005 levels, by 2030. As a signatory to the Paris Agreement, Canada’s NDC reflects its highest possible ambition in light of its current national circumstances. Continue reading

Honouring the BME Church, Salem Chapel – A Historic Church & Heritage Site in St. Catharines Niagara

Join in an Online Tribute to this Great Places, this Thursday, April 22nd at 7:30 p.m. – Details Below

An Invite to All of Us from the Historical Society of St. Catharines

Posted April 19th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

On Thursdsay , April 22 at 7:30 p.m., the Historical Society of St. Catharines will have the pleasure of hosting Rochelle Bush speaking on the BME Church, Salem Chapel in St. Catharines.

Designated a National Historic Site, the Church was built to accommodate African American individuals and families fleeing slavery in the United States notably including Harriet Tubman. The Salem Chapel remains an active congregation today. Rochelle is a Church Historian and Trustee. Continue reading

Under the Cover of COVID-19 Crisis, Ford Government Passes Bill That Assault Municipal Planning Rules

Provincial Zoning Orders Mean Any Natural Heritage Site Can Be Destroyed – Without Citizens’ Input – If A Powerful Developer Can Arm-Twist the Likes of Ford and his Tory Minions

A News Release from the Canada-wide public interest groups, Environmental Defence, Ontario Nature and Ecojustice

Posted April 19th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

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

A week ago this Monday, April 19, while most citizens across Ontario were already super focused on the soaring levels of COVID-19 cases around us, the Conservative government of Premier Doug Ford used this growing health and economic catastrophe as an opportunity to pass controversial legislation that makes a mockery of open and accountability planning rules.

This Ford government – more intent on feeding the greed of the worst of the worst in Ontario’s development industry than on protecting what is left of our precious green places – passed a bill that makes it even easier for his government to slap what are called Ministry Zoning Orders (MZOs) on our communities – orders that supersede any and all municipal planning processes that allow all of us to have a say in the fate of cherished natural heritage areas like Thundering Waters Forest in Niagara Falls or Waverly Woods in Fort Erie.

So uncaring this Ford government is around anything to do with protecting our environment, and so eager it is to satisfy the greed of developers that line the Conservative Party’s pockets with campaign donations, that it passed this totally undemocratic and despicable bill. Continue reading

Moving Wetlands for Developers – Some Know It as “Bio-Diversity Offsetting  -Is Back on the Table in Ontario

Hamilton Conservation Authority is debating policy to allow relocation of wetlands, woodlots and other natural features

“I think this is wrong for the Conservation Authority to be going in this direction and I think there’s going to be recriminations against the board as a result of it from many conservationists in the community.”                                                                                          – Hamilton City Councillor Brad Clark, who sits on the current board of directors for the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA)

News from Citizens at City Hall (CATCH), a Hamilton-based citizen watchdog group

Posted April 19th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Should developers be allowed to relocate wetlands and other natural features to advance their building plans?

That question is now squarely before a sharply divided Hamilton Conservation Authority with a draft “offsetting” that is heading out for feedback from the public, the home builders association, the city and other stakeholders.

Initiated last fall at the request of developers who want to move a wetland out of the way of a proposed warehouse, the issue has been further complicated by provincial restrictions on Conservation Authorities including imposition of Ministerial Zoning Orders (MZOs) that override environmental protection rules and eliminate public consultation and other planning protocols.

The draft sparked an angry exchange between two city councillors at the HCA’s April board meeting. Continue reading

Ontario’s Ford Government Turns Fascist To Deflect Blame for Dangerous COVID-19 Spikes

This Should be the Last Draw for this Awful Ford Government. Next Year, They Need to be Swept from Power 

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

Posted April 17th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Ontario Premier Doug Ford. The huge COVID-19 surge …. It’s not his fault. It is our fault.

Niagara At Large has been strong on the need for those among us who openly flaunt orders or laws around wearing masks or break other common-good efforts to protect all of us from the scourge of COVID-19 to have the book thrown at them.

That is why NAL joins others in congratulating law-enforcement authorities for slapping charges against West Lincoln Mayor David Bylsma, Thorold City Councillor Jim Handley, former St. Catharines regional councillor Andy Petrowski and others for a reckless and dangerous rally they participated in this past April 10th in St. Catharines. Continue reading

Earth Week to bring Niagara College community closer to nature

Connecting with nature and protecting the planet will be the focus of Niagara College’s first Earth Week celebration April 17-25.

Read Below for Details on Virtual Events You can Attend during the Week

An Invite to All from Niagara College in Niagara, Ontario

Posted April 16th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Kennedy Earth Week: NC president Sean Kennedy and his wife Kerry enjoy birdwatching with a little help from their species ID guide. Kerry (NC Ecosystem Restoration<; alumna) holds invasive plant species which she removed during their walk. Photos courtesy of Niagara College

Niagara, Ontario – Hosted by NC’s Office of Sustainability, a roster of virtual initiatives will take place leading up to Earth Day on April 22 and beyond.

Earth Week aims to provide an outlet for the College community to participate in sustainability-focused initiatives safely during the pandemic – in their own backyards and neighbourhoods, individually or with their families or roommates.

“At Niagara College, we strive to build a more sustainable future. It has never been more important to protect our natural habitat and reduce our carbon footprint as we take action to address climate change and help restore the health of our Earth,” said College president Sean Kennedy. “While we can’t gather in person at this time, I encourage our entire College community to get involved with Earth Week and demonstrate that we can make a difference #NCTogether.”

NC’s sustainability program and outreach coordinator Amber Schmucker noted that the initiatives are all about bringing the NC community closer to nature for the benefit of the planet, as well as the humans who inhabit it. Continue reading

Justin Trudeau’s Liberals Continue Greasing the Wheels of Canada’s Climate Ravaging Fossil Fuel Operators

New report: Federal government subsidies and financing for fossil fuels reached nearly $18 billion in 2020

In advance of the federal budget (to be tabled later this April), a new report from Environmental Defence shows that the federal government and its agencies increased financial support for oil and gas companies as country grappled with COVID-19

A Report from Environmental Defence, a Canada-wide public advocacy group for protecting the environment

Posted April 15th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Ottawa, Ontario  –  A new report released this April 15th by Environmental Defence reveals that despite a decade of promises to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, Canada’s federal government announced a minimum of almost $18 billion to the oil and gas sector in 2020.

In contrast, the Government’s new climate plan commits $15 billion to climate initiatives – spread over ten years.

The report, Paying Polluters: Federal Financial Support to Oil and Gas in 2020, estimates federal supports either announced or provided in 2020, including COVID support programs. Continue reading

Ford Walked Ontario into another School Shutdown by Refusing to Spend on Safety

“This cycle of shutdowns is awful for families and school staff. I’m worried for the students having their education disrupted again right as exams approach, and I really feel for parents, families and teachers now scrambling for child care and deeply worried about managing at-home learning again.”                                          – Ontario NDP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath

A News Release from Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party

Posted Aril 12th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

NDP calls for investments to finally make this schools shutdown the last

Ontario NDP MPP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath want’s Ford Longterm-Care Home Minister’s head.

QUEEN’S PARK — Doug Ford marched Ontario straight into yet another all-schools shutdown by refusing to spend the money needed to make schools safe, said Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath.

“Doug Ford marched us right into this all-schools shutdown by refusing to listen to experts, and refusing to invest to make schools safe. It should never have come to this. This time, he needs to spend the money to make all schools safe to return to — the health of students, teachers and education workers is worth it,” said Horwath. Continue reading

Ford and his “Pro-Life” MPPs Could Not Give a Fig About Front-Line Workers

Let Grocery Store Workers and Others Eat COVID-19 and Die from It If Necessary. Thank God, For Ford’s Sake, That They Are Not Fetuses!

A Brief News Commentary from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large, followed by a Call for Paid Sick Leave from Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party

Posted April 7th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

A Comment from Doug Draper at NAL –

Let me just start by putting it this way.

If there were fetuses working the cash registers at grocery stores in Ontario, Premier Doug Ford and the extreme right-wing, evangelical nuts in his party like Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterfhoff, would be busting their balls to make sure they were afforded every degree of safety and compensation for their sacrifices possible.

That would include keeping in place bonus pay (dropped by greedy grocery store operators like the Weston family after the first wave of the virus last year) and paid sick leave.

Just about every sound expert around, including Ontario’s chief health officer, has recommended paid sick leave for essential front-line workers at grocery stores, pharmacies and other outlets we need to keep open in order to survie.

Why do they recommend paid sick days for these people? Continue reading

Ford’s Tories Pose an Existential Threat to What is Left of Ontario’s Natural Heritage

A National Observer/Torstar Investigative Story Takes a Deep Dive into Ford’s Willingness to Sell Off Ontario’s Natural Heritage to Greedy Developers

Thanks to Ford and his Friends in Ontario’s  Money-Grubbing, Morally Bankrupt Development Industry, Countless Thousands of Acres of Our Province’s Food-Growing Lands Could Be ‘Open for the Wrong Kind of Business’

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

Posted April 3rd, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Even before Doug Ford won enough seats in the June 2018 Ontario election to form a government, Niagara At Large posted commentary warning that a vote for Ford and his Tories represents nothing less than a vote against protecting and preserving what is left of our province’s precious natural heritage for present and future generations.

Indeed, this Niagara At Large publisher and veteran environment reporter went so far as to colour Ford and his fellow travelers as an existential threat to our waters, to our air, to our wetlands, woodlands, to food-growing lands and to all other natural resources that are absolutely essential to our health, and to the overall health and prosperity of the communities we live in.

Yes indeed, the warning signs were there, even back then, with klieg lights on them, and for anyone to read if they cared to. Continue reading

Niagara’s Greater Chamber of Commerce Comments on “Frustrations” of Another Ontario Lockdown

A News Release from the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerice (GNCC)

Posted April 1st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

For the sake of all of us, the line needs to be full and has to start moving much faster

Niagara, Ontario – After a failure to contain the spread of COVID-19, Ontario will now enter a third lockdown, and frustrations continue to grow.

The GNCC calls upon all levels of government to accelerate the rate of vaccination by any means available.

Delays in distribution are heavy blows to businesses going through further restrictions and lockdowns while we watch our neighbours to the south are being inoculated at a rapid and accelerating pace. Continue reading

Ontario’s Ford Government  Implements Provincewide Emergency Brake

All 34 Public Health Unit Regions (including Niagara) to Move into Shutdown

A News Release from the Office of Ontario Premier Doug Ford

Posted April 1st, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, with his health minister Christine Elliott, behind him.

TORONTO —The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is imposingprovincewide emergency brake as a result of an alarming surge  in case numbers and COVID-19 hospitalizations across the province.

The provincewide emergency brake will be effective Saturday, April 3, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. and the government intends to keep this in place for at least four weeks.

Details were provided today (this April 1st) by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Dr. Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown, Co-Chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table.

“We are facing a serious situation and drastic measures are required to contain the rapid spread of the virus, especially the new variants of concern,” said Premier Ford.

Continue reading

Ontario Expanding Existing Community Paramedicine Program to Long-Term Care in Niagara

Investment Will Help More Seniors Stay in Their Own Homes Longer

“The enhancements being made to our EMS program … will make a meaningful difference to the health of our residents by providing them with the most appropriate and effective service possible.” – Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley

A News Release from the Government of Ontario

Posted March 30th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

FONTHILL, Ontario –The Ontario government is investing $8,203,800 million to expand the Community Paramedicine for Long-Term Care program in Niagara. This initiative will help more seniors on long-term care waitlists stay safe while living in the comfort of their own homes for longer.

From left to right, Town of Pelham Mayor Marvin junkin, Kevin Smith, Chief of Niagara Emergency Medical Services, Niagara West MPP and Ontario Ford government member Sam Oosterhoff, and Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley7

Details of the new program were provided today at the Pelham Ambulance Station in Fonthill by Sam Oosterhoff, MPP for Niagara West, along with Jim Bradley, Chair of the Niagara Region, and Kevin Smith, Chief of Niagara Emergency Medical Services.  MPP Oosterhoff, Chair Bradley and Kevin Smith were also joined by Marvin Junkin, Mayor of the Town of Pelham.

“The expansion of community paramedicine programming in Niagara is good news for our seniors, and the vulnerable in our region,” said MPP Oosterhoff.

“This substantial provincial investment will help provide care to many in the community, and ensure seniors are able to be supported and age in place where possible. I am grateful for the daily leadership of Niagara’s EMS as they provide excellent care and responses to the people of the peninsula.” Continue reading

Instead Of Wasting Taxpayers. Money On Failed Legal Battles, Ford Should Take Action on Climate Crisis

A News Release from the Green Party of Ontario

Posted March 27th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Thirty-Million Dollars!

That’s how much of our tax dollars the Ford government wasted challenging a price on pollution. Yesterday the Supreme Court decided against Ford; affirming what we already knew.


But instead of taking action, Doug Ford continues his attack on the environment by trying to pave over wetlands, increasing emissions, and driving Ontario toward more sprawl.

Continue reading

Canadian Supreme Court Decision Amplifies Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his Conservative Government as Climate Deniers

“Doug Ford and his band of climate change deniers are holding Ontario back from tackling the greatest challenge of our generation.”                                                                                                  – Ontario Liberal Leader Stene Del Duca

A Statement from Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca On Carbon Tax Ruling

Posted March 25th, 2021 on Niagara At Large

Toronto, Ontario  – Steven Del Duca, Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, issued the following statement:

“Doug Ford and his band of climate change deniers are holding Ontario back from tackling the greatest challenge of our generation. Doug Ford has spent hundreds of millions of dollars attacking the environment.

Ontario Liberals take the fight against climate change seriously and recognize the financial risks associated with inaction. Ontario cannot afford a climate change dinosaur like Doug Ford or his Conservative cousin, Erin O’Toole. Continue reading

A Victory for Our Planet – Canada’s Supreme Court Upholds Federal Government’s Carbon Pricing Program

A Brief Note from Doug Draper on Niagara At Large

Posted March 25th, 2021

Niagara At Large will have more on this great victory later today. Stay Tuned!