Happy Birthday To One of Niagara’s Most Decent Public Servants

Happy Birthday Bill Hodgson

A Brief Tribute and Happy Birthday Wish to former public school board member, then former Lincoln mayor, then former Niagara regional councillor for Lincoln, and a former member of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s board of directors, censored by the former NPCA board of Sandy Annunziata, but remembered in the eyes of Niagara’s public at large as a board member of high principle – BILL HODGSON

From Doug Draper

Posted May 16th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

So courtesy of those pop-up Facebook messages I receive, which I normally find quite annoying because, on so many levels, I don’t like Facebook has done to real newspapers and to the civility of public discourse, I am going to let Sylvester, one of my all-time favourite cats, out of the bag, and wish one of my all-time favourite public servants in Niagara, Ontario a Happy Birthday.

Happy Birthday, this May 16th, to Bill Hodgson. And Bill, I have no idea how old you are but, in this journalist’s view anyway, you are never too old to take a run for another term in any public office you choose.

I am sure that many Niagara residents who care about honesty and decency in public office would welcome you back. Continue reading

What A Fucking Evil Madman Trump Is!

Some of You Dispute My Argument That We Canadians Should Keep The Canada-U.S. Border Closed Indefinitely?

Just Watch The Video Below. I Rest My Case

A Brief Commentary by Doug Draper, Niagara At Large

Posted May 15th, 2020

I’ve had more than a few comments already to a commentary I put on Niagara At Large earlier today, almost pleading to our Prime Minister that he keep the Canada-U.S. border closed, possibly until the end of this year.

Not till the end of the year, some have responded to me. I want to cross.

My response is so do I, but I’m more worried about the Trump nuts that don’t give a shit about social distancing and might come over here, to Canada, and trigger an outbreak of this nightmare again.

The self-described “stable genius” in the White House, gives those of us who choose to disagree with anything he says or does the you know what.

If you think I am wrong, just watch this recent madness from Donald Trump, talking about moving forward with business – pandemic or no pandemic – and actually speaking out against testing because testing my reveal that there are more COVID-19 cases.  

To watch something far less funny than Dr. Strangelove and far more dangerously insane, yet remains something that the millions of screwballs in America who continue support this nut actually see as perfectly okay, click on the screen below –

A Footnote from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large – Here is the link to the Commentary I posted on NAL earlier, on the need to keep the Canada-U.S. border indefinitely closed – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2020/05/15/dear-mr-prime-minister-please-keep-the-canada-u-s-border-closed-all-year-if-necessary/

Further to this, and if you need any further information on how dangerous the United States has become under Trump, in this age of COVID-19, here is a piece I saw on the MSNBC pr0gram this Friday, May 15. Later on, Linda Babb posted it on her great Niagara area onside Facebook page, The Peoples’ Platform.

Please watch it right through to the end so you can here what a renown expert on international affairs, Dr. Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University in New York City has to say, and once again, I rest my case on my plea to keep the Canada-U.S. border closed.

To watch the Morning Joe segment, click on the screen below –

Okay, now come tell me we shouldn’t keep the Canada-U.S. border closed to Trumpies.

We need to keep our entrance ways to Canada from Trumpland closed.

There is no damn way that Canadians, who have sacrificed so much over the past many weeks to drive the Coronavirus curve down, should allow people who think this killer virus is some kind of a hoax or joke to drive it across our border.

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

Dear Mr. Prime Minister, Please Keep the Canada-U.S. Border Closed All Year, If Necessary!

We Don’t Need America’s Trumpies Driving More of the Killer Virus Up Here.

“While there is no end to the peril, dozens of U.S. states are planning to reopen this month, undaunted by a steep trajectory of newly sickened people. …. This is a threat to Canada.”                  – from a May 9th Editorial in The Globe and Mail, titled; ‘Dear America – You’re Sick. Don’t Visit Us’.

If you are with this guy – the virus is a “hoax,” it’s nothing more than a “mild flu,” trying injecting disinfectant” while I “liberate your states,”  and real Americans don’t need to get tested or wear masks – then please don’t come visit! If you want to set yourselves up for a second, possible more deadly wave of this plague, keep it over there.

A Call-Out to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted May 15th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Dear America, you’re sick alright.

A proud “Trump girl” joins the protests against protective measures.

Whatever ‘Make America Great Again’ may mean, you’ve got the largest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 of any nation in the world and the largest number of deaths, with more than 85,000 as of this posting, and expected to surpass 100,000 before the end of this month.

And yet more than half the states in the U.S. are hanging up ‘Re-Open for Business’ sign, swinging open doors to bars, restaurants, casinos, gun shops and so on, even while the case counts and death counts related to Coronavirus continue to climb.

It is party time again in packed bars in Wisconsin, which is just a few hours drive away from the Canadian border. Do we really want these people coming up here in the middle of a pandemic?

“Whoo-eee,” shouted one big, bearded guy in a packed bar in Wisconsin when the shutters were removed the doors after a Republican dominated state court ruled against the governor’s desire to extend the shutdown. Raising an arm and hand to his mouth as if he were about to guzzle a mug of beer, the same guy, yelled; “America is back!”

America is back? What in hell does that mean?

Continue reading

Ontario Government Announces Additional Workplaces that Can Reopen in Niagara and other Regions of Province

Additional Seasonal, Retail and Household Businesses Must Follow Public Health Guidelines

News from the Constituency Office of Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff

Posted May 14th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

With other ministers standing behind him, Ontario Premier Doug Ford continues to announce a slow re-opening of businesses and other venues across the province

BEAMSVILLE, Ontario – This Thursday, May 14th, the Ontario government announced the retailers, seasonal businesses and health and community service providers who will be permitted to open or expand their services on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., provided that the general trend on health indicators continues to improve as part of the first stage of the government’s reopening framework.

The workplaces opening as part this stage are well-positioned to put workplace safety measures in place and get more people back to work, while not overburdening public transit and other services. Continue reading

Ontario Superior Court Shoots Down Ford Government’s Case Against Wind Farm

“Moving forward, we hope that the Ontario government will take the time to consult the evidence and experts when considering clean energy projects.”  – Sarah Buchanan, clean energy program manager for the Canada-wide citizens group Environmental Defence

News from Environmental Defence, a Canada-wide advocacy group for the environment

Posted May 14th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

A Statement from Sarah Buchanan, Clean Economy Program Manager, Environmental Defence, on the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Divisional Court) ruling quashing the Minister of Environment Conservation and Park’s cancellation of the Nation Rise Wind Farm

Toronto Ontario –,  This Thursday, May 14th’s  court ruling quashing Minister Yurek’s hasty cancellation of a wind power project is a victory for the rule of law and the environment.

How much is the Ford government’s failed battles against green energy costing Ontario’s taxpayers?

Jeff Yurek, Ontario Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks, cited concern for local endangered bats as the reason for the abrupt cancellation of the Nation Rise Wind Farm in late 2019.

Scientists disputed his claim, concluding in expert testimony that there was no undue risk to endangered bats or to the surrounding environment.

This Thursday May 14th, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Divisional Court) agreed, ruling that the Minister’s rationale was riddled with errors and lacking in evidence. Continue reading

Climate Action Hero Greta Thunberg Featured this Thursday, May 14th on 8 P.M. ‘GLOBAL TOWN HALL

World renown climate activist Greta Thunberg

If You Can Access the American Cable News Network CNN, Watch the Town Hall this Thursday, May 14th, 2020 at 8 P.M.

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

Posted May 14th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old climate activists from Sweden who, has perhaps done more than more than any other single individual today to mobilized a world movement to address the other life-and-death emergency we face – the global climate crisis – will be one of the featured guests on a ‘Global Town Hall’ that CNN is televising live this May 14th at 8 p.m.

At a time when many of us fear that COVID-19 has taken too much attention away from the other existential threat life on our planet faces, kudos to the producers at CNN for having Greta Thunberg on to remind us that the climate crisis is still very much alive. Continue reading

Enjoy #NiagaraPerforms Free Online Concerts and Events LIVE!

New artists announced for #NiagaraPerforms

Check Out a new list of movies Niagara’s Film House has to offer too

A Call-Out to All Concert and Film Lovers from the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre & Film House in St. Catharines, Ontario

Posted May 14th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – Through this unprecedented time of physical separation, the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre continues to strive to find ways to bring our community together through the arts. #NiagaraPerforms<https://firstontariopac.ca/online/Article/NiagaraPerforms> was launched as an online series in mid-April as a platform to connect local artists and audiences and has attracted more than 15,000 livestream patrons to date. Continue reading

Shame on Ford Government for Taking This Long to Issue “Emergency Order” for Ontario’s Long-term Care Homes

Order Comes Almost Two Months After Ford Declares a General Emergency for Province and After Several Weeks of Disproportionate Numbers of COVID Cases and Deaths in these Homes

Another hearse pulls out of the parking lot at the ill-fated Pinecrest long-term care home in Bobcaygeon, Ontario more than a month ago. What took so long for an “emergency order” from Ontario’s Ford government?

 

 

Hello Mr. Premier – It is Time to Stop Treating Our Seniors and Those who Care for Them like For-Profit, Human Garbage

A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper, followed by a News Release from Ontario’s Ford Government

Posted May 13, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Ontario Premier Doug Ford

I have been hesitating to post a commentary of praise for Ontario Premier Doug Ford for the way he has been conducting himself since the black clouds of this killer plague arrived in the skies over our province.

As much as I continue to hope that Doug Ford and his Ontario Tories are turfed from power in the next provincial election for their record on cutting and gutting environmental protections alone, I was thinking – in a spirit of fairness – that he might deserve some praise for seeming to push his inner bully boy aside during this terrible health disaster we’re facing and show some genuine support for the public services we need and for those who have been risking their health – people he would normally be crapping on, like teachers, health care workers and others – to provide them. Continue reading

Ontario’s NDP calls for Committee to Ensure a Safe Return to Work

“As Ontario develops a recovery plan and workplaces start to re-open, the provincial government must take urgent action to better protect workers.” – Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates

News from Wayne Gates Niagara Falls Constituency Office and Ontario’s Official Opposition New Democrats

Posted May 13th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates in Ontario legislature

MPP Jamie West, NDP Critic for Labour Relations and MPP Wayne Gates, NDP Critic for Workplace Health and Safety, are calling on the Ford government to create a Workplace Safety Readiness Committee responsible for ensuring Ontarians can return to work safely.

“As Ontario develops a recovery plan and workplaces start to re-open, the provincial government must take urgent action to better protect workers,” said Gates.

The Workplace Safety Readiness Committee would be empowered to provide strong recommendations that could be immediately implemented to facilitate a safe transition back to a fully functioning economy. It would allow Ontarians to be confident that when workplaces re-open, they will have the tools, resources, and PPE they need to stay safe and healthy. Continue reading

This National Nursing Week, Niagara Health Recognizes Its More Than Region’s More Tnan 2,100 Nurses

The mother of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale, was born 200 years ago this May 12th

This National Nursing Week, Niagara Health Recognizes Its More Than Region’s More Than 2,100 Nurses

This Tuesday, May 12th, the roaring waters of Niagara Falls and the Main Street Bridge in the Niagara, Ontario City of Welland will be lit up in Blue in Honour of Our Nurses (See more details below)

A Tribute to Niagara’s Nurses on 200th Anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birthday

A Message from Niagara, Health, Niagara, Ontario’s amalgamated system of hospitals

Posted May 13th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

We are sending a very special thank you this year to our nurses during National Nursing Week (May 11 to 17).

In addition to 2020 being the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, this May 12th marked the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale – the founder of modern nursing. Niagara Health’s more than 2,100 nurses work hard every day, amidst the challenges presented by COVID-19, to provide patients and families with extraordinary care.

“Nurses work as part of interprofessional teams across Niagara Health providing high-quality patient care and working to maintain a safe environment for everyone at our sites,” says Derek McNally, Executive Vice President Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Executive. “We want to thank our nurses for their resiliency and dedication during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Continue reading

Declaration of Emergency Extended While Ontario Gradually Reopens the Economy

Ontario Premier Doug Ford

“We are making steady progress to flatten the curve and get more people back to work safely, including our legislators, but we still have far to go in defeating COVID-19.”        – Ontario Premier Doug Ford

New legislation will allow for more virtual or remote transactions during COVID-19

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

Posted May 12th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO, Ontario  — The Ontario government is extending the Declaration of Emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. This additional time will ensure the province has the necessary tools and health care capacity to contain COVID-19, while gradually reopening businesses, services, and amenities safely.

Passed during a special sitting of the Ontario Legislature today, the Declaration of Emergency has been extended until June 2.

The declaration will allow Ontario to continue to enforce current emergency orders, such as restricting retirement and long-term care home employees from working in more than one facility and prohibiting events and gatherings of more than five people. \

Since the emergency was first declared on March 17, the government has taken over 150 actions to help protect individuals, families, and businesses from the impacts of COVID-19. Continue reading

Niagara College Responding to Need for Face Shields and other Critical Health Supplies

Niagara College-Led Network For Manufacturing Innovation Mobilizes In Fight Against COVID-19

News from Niagara College in Niagara, Ontario

Posted May 12th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – Niagara College researchers are providing innovative solutions to help those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and are leading a network of Ontario academic institutions who are mobilizing to do the same.

Research associate Brock Husak (graduate of NC’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program) works inside Niagara College’s Walker Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre, to assemble face shields.

The NC-led consortium under the umbrella of the Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI) is answering a call from the federal government to provide a high-quality, rapid response to the COVID-19 crisis and meet the need for critical health supplies. Continue reading

FACT CHECK – Ontario Behind Other Jurisdictions on COVID Testing

A News Brief from Ontario Official Opposition New Democratic Party

Posted May 12th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Earlier this May 12th Ontario Premier Doug Ford stated, “I also have to remind everyone we’re leading the country now in tests, overall and per capita. We’re going to continue on this pace. We’re one of the leaders in testing globally worldwide per capita.”

A review of testing data shows that Ontario is behind many other countries and provinces when measured on a per capita basis:

Continue reading

Ontario Government Memo Asks Frontline Care Workers to Downgrade to Non-Medical Cloth Masks

“The government’s job is to do everything in its power to get our workers the PPE they need, not to water down the safety recommendations so they don’t have to,” – Andrea Horwath, Leader of Ontario’s Official Opposition New Democrats

A News Release from Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party

Posted, May 11th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

QUEEN’S PARK, Ontario  – The Ford government is now encouraging staff in residential facilities, like care homes for people with disabilities, to downgrade to non-medical cloth masks, even where there’s an active COVID-19 outbreak.

“For basic prevention, staff should wear cloth (non-medical) masks at all congregate care sites regardless of infection status. All suspect (symptomatic) and confirmed cases should be isolated in a single room and enhanced precautions must be deployed.”

All staff should use Droplet and Contact Precautions if they come within 2 metres of a suspected or confirmed case, this means enhanced PPE must be worn (surgical mask, eye protection, gown, gloves).”from a May 8 Memo from the Ontario Ministry of Children Community and Social Services obtained by the NDP.

“The government’s job is to do everything in its power to get our workers the PPE they need, not to water down the safety recommendations so they don’t have to,” said Andrea Horwath, Leader of the Official Opposition New Democrats”. Continue reading

City of St. Catharines Preparing Community Gardens to Open

“We are certainly happy to be opening the community gardens, not only do they provide an important source of sustainably-sourced food in our community, but many user groups really look forward to getting in there and tending their individual plots.”                                                                                                                   – Ilyse Norton, City of St. Catharines’ Horticultural Technician

News from the City of St Catharines in Niagara, Ontario

Posted May 11th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Even if the virus is till around, and it likely will be for a while, many people are still looking forward to this.

With new direction from the Province of Ontario the City is moving to open community gardens, focusing first and foremost on the safety of residents and garden users during the ongoing COVID-19 State of Emergency.

On April 25, following requests from the City of St. Catharines and other municipalities, the Province lifted restrictions prohibiting the operations of community gardens under current emergency orders introduced in response to COVID-19. Continue reading

During Economic Development Week, ShopLincoln.ca is Supporting Local Businesses

Initiative aims to assist local businesses during COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

News from the Town of Lincoln in Niagara, Ontario

Posted May 11th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Lincoln Ontario – The (recently) launched ShopLinlcoln.ca (http://shoplincoln.ca) will help Lincoln’s businesses to continue providing their goods and services during COVID-19 restrictions.

The website provides the community with a simple, direct link to local businesses offering food delivery and takeout, e-commerce, gift cards and live streamed classes and events.

ShopLincoln.ca is a Town of Lincoln-led initiative, in partnership with the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Bench Beamsville BIA, the Twenty Valley Tourism Association, and Ontario Craft Wineries. Continue reading

New Data Shows Majority of Ontarians Believe Mental Health Crisis Will Follow COVID-19 Impact

‘Nearly everyone (90 per cent) is concerned about COVID-19’s impact on the economy and 69 per cent of Ontarians are concerned about the impact the outbreak has on their personal finances’.                                                                                                        – from the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario report

News from the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario

Posted May 11th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Toronto, Ontario – Seven out of 10 Ontarians (69 per cent) believe the province is headed for a “serious mental health crisis” as it emerges from this pandemic and nearly eight out of 10 (77 per cent) say more mental health supports will be necessary to help society, according to new poll results released today.

This data comes from the first of three polls Pollara Strategic Insights is conducting on behalf of Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario Division.

CMHA Ontario is looking to evaluate how Ontarians’ perceptions of their mental health are changing as they come out from underneath the pandemic. Two more surveys will follow in the coming months as restrictions loosen around COVID-19 and the economy continues to re-open. Continue reading

Niagara Falls MPP Demands Immediate Inquiry Into Niagara’s For-Profit Care Homes

“As COVID-19 has hit, our parents and grandparents have been left exposed to this deadly virus and with underpaid staff (in long-term care homes)having to manage impossible workloads without the personal protective equipment they need.”                                          – Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates

‘Privatization of long-term care in Ontario increased dramatically in the 1990s under Premier Mike Harris. Harris is now chair of the board at Chartwell Retirement Residences, a massive long-term care for-profit corporation.’

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

Posted May 11th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Falls NDP MPP Wayne Gates

QUEEN’S PARK, Ontario — NDP MPP Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls) says the NDP’s call for a full public inquiry into long-term care is critical to Niagara care homes — to find out why the system was in crisis before the pandemic hit; how the pandemic response left seniors homes so vulnerable; and examine the future of for-profit homes in the Niagara region.

“For years families and advocates have been ringing alarm bells about the crisis in long-term care homes, especially in for-profit homes. We’ve heard harrowing stories of understaffed homes and underfunded facilities. As COVID-19 has hit, our parents and grandparents have been left exposed to this deadly virus and with underpaid staff having to manage impossible workloads without the personal protective equipment they need,” said Gates. Continue reading

Greater Niagara Chamber Not Optimistic Over Regional Labour Market Data

Niagara, Ontario’s Jobless Rate for Month of April Falls Just Short of 10 Per Cent

‘Among the hardest-hit industries (in Niagara, Ontario) have been accommodation and food services, healthcare and social assistance, and retail trade. More than half of all retailers have laid off at least 80% of their workforce. 64% of healthcare and social assistance organizations have done the same, as well as 69% of accommodation and food service businesses.’

A Statement from the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce (GNCC) on the release of April’s labour force survey data

Posted May 11th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario  – This past May 8th, 2020, Statistics Canada released its monthly labour force data for April, the first full month since the impact of COVID-19 began to be felt.

The national unemployment rate is 13%, up from 5.6% in February. This is the second-worst rate recorded since 1976, when comparable data was first available.

When you have a parking lot this empty at Niagara’s largest shopping mall – the Pen Centre in St. Catharines – you can bet that the region’s jobless rate is going to be staggering. File photo by Doug Draper

Niagara’s unemployment rate officially stands at 9.9%. Continue reading

Canada’s Prime Minister Pays Tribute to the Front-Line Heroics of Nurses on National Nursing Week

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

“During this difficult time, when we must stay apart to be safe, nurses are playing a dual role: delivering critical health care while providing a bridge to our loved ones. They’re showing up for us, and we need to do the same for them.”  – Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today (the May 11th, 2020) issued the following statement on National Nursing Week, which runs from May 11 to 17

Posted May 11th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

“Nurses work hard day and night, serving Canadians and protecting our health and well-being. They support us through some of our best and worst moments, providing their skills, expertise, and care when we need them the most.

“Today, as we mark the first day of National Nursing Week, we recognize the work and sacrifices of nurses, and their contributions to our health care system and our lives.”

“This year’s theme, ‘Nurses: A Voice to Lead — Nursing the World to Health,’ reminds us of the invaluable work that these health care professionals are doing across our country, and around the world, as we face this pandemic.” Continue reading

Canadian Scholar, Academic Leader to be Brock’s Next Provost

Lynn Wells will become Brock University’s Provost and Vice-President, Academic on July 1.

”With Canada’s universities working to address major challenges resulting from the global pandemic, Brock’s role is even more vital to Niagara and to Ontario, and I am honoured to be joining the institution and the community.”                                  – Lynn Wells, Brock University’s new Provost and Vice-President Academic, effective July 1st, 2020

News from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario

Posted May 11th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – Lynn Wells, an accomplished scholar and academic leader, will be Brock University’s new Provost and Vice-President Academic, effective July 1, 2020.

Brock President Gervan Fearon made the announcement Monday, May 11, welcoming the scholar and researcher to Niagara. Continue reading

A Few Thoughts for Mother Earth on Mother’s Day

A Brief Commentary by Derek Jones, a resident of Niagara Falls, Ontario and Friend of Thundering Waters Forest

Posted on Mother’s Day, May 10th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

As if there’s not enough to worry about these days.

Unfortunately a theory/prediction I made around a month ago, once I started seeing stories of cleaner air around the globe due to decreased Human activity, seems to be manifesting before our eyes.

I predicted that the abrupt shift and significant decrease in Human activity would have a sudden jarring effect on Global Climate. You’ve probably seen the news stories of how people from India can see the Himalayas for the first time many years.

What we’re not seeing, and I don’t see being reported, is how the sudden shift is likely to affect Global Climate. Continue reading

A Few More Thoughts on the Fragility of Democracy on the 75th Anniversary of the Victory in Europe

A Commentary by Gary Screaton Page, a resident of Fort Erie in Niagara, Ontario

Posted May 10th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

World War II was a tragedy on so many fronts. On so many levels the human cost was incalculable!

So, too, the cost to our humanity. Little understood is how a nation that once birthed great music, art, writing, theology, and philosophy could so crumble to the point of raising a Hitler.

We must be vigilant. Democracy is fragile.

In spite of our pride in our nation, we are not immune in Canada to what happened in Germany in 1933, after the Reichstag adopted the Enabling Act of 1933 in March that year giving expanded authority, Hindenburg had previously appointed Hitler as Chancellor on 30 January 1933 after parliamentary elections and much backroom intrigue. Continue reading

A Few Thoughts on the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe Day

By Niagara At Large publisher Doug Draper, followed by a Statement issued on this milestone Anniversary by Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau

Posted May 8th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

“Is this really the beginning of the long-awaited liberation? The liberation we’ve all talked so much about, which still seems too good, too much of a fairy tale ever to come true? …

“Oh, Kitty, the best part about the invasion is that I have the feeling that friends are on the way. Those terrible Germans have oppressed and threatened us for so long that the thought of friends and salvation means everything to us! Now it’s not just the Jews, but Holland and all of occupied Europe. Maybe, Margot says, I can even go back to school in October or September.”

Anne Frank. More than almost anyone else, Anne Frank, through the words in her enduring diary, put a human face on the terrible loss of human life during the nightmare years of Nazis occupation in Europe.

The author of the above words was Anne Frank and ‘Kitty’ was the name she gave the immortalized diary she wrote them in. Margot was her older sister.

Anne Frank penned those words on June 6th, 1944, after she heard on a BBC radio broadcast about the D-Day invasion of allied troops along the cost of France – an event that  marked the beginning of the end of the War in Europe against the then German Nazi occupiers.

Tragically, Anne Frank would not go back to school the following September, nor did she live long enough to see victory achieved in Europe 75 years ago this May 8th. She and her sister Margot died, apparently of typhus, in a Nazi concentration camp in late March 1945, just week before that camp was liberated. Continue reading

Aside

To Hell With Jason Kenney. Let Him Yell And Scream All He Wants. Let’s Help The People of Alberta Transition To Industries That Hold A Promise For Good Jobs And Prosperity For The Province In The 21st Century

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

Posted May 8th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Green Party MP Elizabeth May came right out and said it this May 6th.

Green Party of Canada MP Elizabeth May

“Oil is dead” and big oil is slowly but surely dying as an industry all over the world. It is time for Canada’s federal government to stop throwing good money after bad, and give the people of Alberta financial assistance to move on to other enterprises that will see them thrive in a rapidly changing 21st century.

For that, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, one of the closest politicians Canada has to a populist, right-wing zealot like Donald Trump, slammed the federal Green Party’s former leader and current parliamentary lead, calling her words “un-Canadian at a time like this. It is like blaming the victim.”

Think about how preposterous that is.

It’s as if to say that Canada and all that it is in the eyes of Canadians and the rest of the world is wrapped around northern Alberta’s tar mining industry, and that attacking it is akin to an attack on the very heart and soul of our confederation. Continue reading

There Should Be No COVID Assistance for Corporations that Dodge Taxes

‘We need to focus our spending on workers, their livelihoods and our collective goals as a society. Strict conditions should be placed on large loans or other significant financial support going out the door to big corporations.’

Five tests to make sure bailouts benefit people, not corporations

By Katrina Miller, Program Director, Broadbent Institute

Posted May 8th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Canada’s corporate bailouts need to cut out tax dodgers and profiteers, and show long-term commitments are attached to the money.

The great recession of 2008 was an expensive lesson for governments around the world. Specifically, why providing large corporate anbanking industry bailouts with little to no enforced conditions is a terrible idea.

Massive loans and grants were used too often to rack up profit, pad executive pay, buy back shares to further inflate profit margins, and shell out even larger dividends to shareholders.

Adding insult to injury, some of these corporations then moved their operations offshore, taking much needed jobs with them and extending one of the most detrimental impacts of the recession: the loss of full-time well-paying work.

Since then, we’ve discovered the wide use of tax havens. It begs the question of how many of corporations we were bailing out were partaking in such schemes to avoid having their publicly funded profit taxed. Continue reading

They’re Right! It’s Mourning in America

“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.” – from Donald Trump’s Inaugural Address, January 2017

“Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.” – Donald Trump, during a media scrum on the White House lawn in June of 2019

A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper, including one of the most powerful ads to date on Trump’s failure of leadership

Posted May 8th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

To think that it was five years ago this June that the self-declared “stable genius” and his pole dancer of a bride road down that escalator in the atrium of Trump Tower where the ‘genius’ announced he was embarking on a crusade to “make America great again.”

At the risk of sounding like a wise guy, I don’t think it took a real stable genius to predict then that if Trump were to actually win what still was, at the time, the most powerful office on the planet; it wasn’t going to end well. Continue reading

Ontario’s NDP Saddened to Learn of Death of Another Personal Support Worker to COVID-19

This is the Third Death of a Personal Support Worker in Ontario in About as Many Weeks

A Statement from Ontario NDP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath

Posted May 7th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

QUEEN’S PARK — NDP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath released the following statement of condolences following the loss of a Personal Support Worker (PSW)  who worked at Madonna Care Community in Orleans to COVID-19:

“The loss of this health care hero to COVID-19 weighs heavily on all our hearts, and my thoughts are with his family, friends, and union brothers and sisters at this painful time. While they can’t come together to comfort one another as they mourn, I do hope they find some solace in their shared memories. Continue reading

We’re in a Planetary Emergency & We Need ‘Youth-Led Movements’ to Address It

“We need new blood! Fresh ideas! People who won’t be co-opted!”

A Commentary by Documentary Filmmaker and Journalist Michael Moore, from his Facebook Page

(Michael Moore has  made headlines in recent days for his involvement in a new film called ‘Planet of the Humans’, which has drawn heat for, among other things,  taking a critical look at the infiltration of corporate money into some of the older, more mainstream ranks of the environmental movement. If you have not yet seen the film, you can click on it at the bottom of this post.)

Posted May 7th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

By Michael Moore – 

We are in a planetary emergency.

And I’m not talking about the coronavirus. Viruses are part of nature. This is their planet, too. They are a form of life. And like another species I know well, they are killers. The current pandemic is simply acting as a gentle warning from Mother Nature.

Gentle?? Over 3 million infected worldwide, and a quarter million dead? Gentle?

Yes, it is truly awful. But take it as the Earth’s slap on our collective face: nature telling our species to back off, slow down and change your ways.

For many years, we have been in the middle of what scientists call the world’s Sixth Extinction Event. This planet can remove us all in a snap of its fingers. Thank god it doesn’t have fingers. Nonetheless, if you think Covid-19 has been a bummer, well, trust me, you literally can’t imagine just how awful Earth’s revenge is going to be against us for trying to choke it to fucking death.

Yes, we are in a serious, multi-level planetary emergency – and it involves climate, water, food, topsoil, overconsumption, missing species, ocean life and humans. Mostly humans, and our various nonsensical greed-induced behaviors and systems.

Now for the bad news.

Continue reading

Canada’s Prime Minister Announces Agreements to Boost Wages for Essential Workers

A COVID-19 Update from Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada,

With an Afterword from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper

Posted May 7th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

From the Prime Minister –

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

While many of us are being asked to stay home, millions of Canadians are being called on to go to work every day. These Canadians are providing us with essential services, so we can continue to keep our families safe and healthy. We are relying on them now more than ever, and that is why the Government of Canada is working with provinces and territories to provide them with a much-needed wage boost.

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced that all provinces and territories have confirmed, or are in the process of confirming, plans to cost share wage top-ups for their essential workers.

The Government of Canada will provide up to $3 billion in support to increase the wages of low-income essential workers. Each province or territory will determine which workers would be eligible for support, and how much support they will receive. Continue reading

COVID-19 Deaths in Ontario Significantly Higher in Long-Term Care Homes That Are For Profit, Privately Run

To Date Figures Show Publicly-Owned Care Homes for Seniors Have Lower Death

“The outbreaks resulting in deaths are still increasing across the long-term care sector as a whole. … But the death rate is significantly higher in the for-profit homes and is increasing more quickly” – from a new Ontario Health Coalition analysis of available provincial data

A New Analysis by the Ontario Health Coalition, a province-wide citizen group advocating for quality, public health care

Posted May 6th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Toronto, Ontario – A new analysis released this May 6th, 2020  by the Ontario Health Coalition shows a significantly higher death rate as a result of COVID-19 in long-term care homes that are owned by for-profit corporations as compared to non-profit and public (municipal) homes.

The research, done by Rabbi Shalom Schachter, LL.B., executive member of the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition and member of the Ontario Health Coalition, analyses the death rates in 93 Ontario long-term care homes with outbreaks of COVID-19 that have resulted in death.

The total number of deaths tracked in the data is 1,057, with 700 in for-profit homes, 275 in non-profit homes and 82 in municipal homes that have outbreaks resulting in death. Continue reading

Ontario Government Further Eases Restrictions on Retail Stores and Essential Construction During COVID-19

Retailers to follow health and safety guidelines

“As the trends improve, we can move forward with reopening more and more of our economy and getting people back to work.” – Ontario Premier Doug Ford

A COVID-19 UPDATE from the Office of Ontario’s Premier

Posted May 6th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO ― The Ontario government is allowing all retail stores with a street entrance to provide curb-side pickup and delivery, as well as in-store payment and purchases at garden centres, nurseries, hardware stores and safety supply stores. The business owners should review the health and safety guidelines developed by the province and its health and safety association partners.

Today’s announcement was made by Premier Doug Ford, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. Continue reading

Now For Some Good News – Garden Walk Buffalo Is Not Letting COVID-19 Shut It Down

We Plan A Different Kind Of Garden Sharing For 2020

News from Garden Walk Buffalo, organizers of one of North America’s most popular urban garden tours

Posted May 6th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Buffalo, New York – Garden Walk Buffalo will not be held as a two-day walking tour this year. Gardens Buffalo Niagara and the Garden Walk Buffalo committee are planning a different kind of garden sharing – transforming the 2020 Garden Walk to adapt to these unprecedented times.

One of the countless great displays that may still be available at Garden Walk Buffalo 2020, with social distancing. Photo by Doug Draper

In light of current national and local social distancing restrictions, Garden Walk Buffalo will become Buffalo Garden Views: Sharing in July, a “virtual garden month.” Continue reading

Ontario Government Extends Electricity Rate Relief During COVID-19

Residential, farm and small business customers continue to benefit from temporary relief measure

Government has also decided to extend “Emergency Orders” for Playgrounds and a Host of Other Locations and Activities.        See Details Below

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

Posted May 6th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO — The Ontario government is extending emergency electricity rate relief to families, farms and small businesses until May 31, 2020 during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Customers who pay time-of-use electricity rates will continue to be billed at the lowest price, known as the off-peak price, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

This electricity rate relief, initially provided for a 45-day period starting on March 24, 2020, has been extended by an emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. The rate relief is intended to be in place for an additional 24 days.  

“During this extraordinary period, many people are struggling to pay the bills as they do the right thing by staying at home, as well as our farmers and those whose businesses have closed or suffered reduced customer traffic,” said Premier Doug Ford. Continue reading

The Niagara Jazz Festival is Playing On and You Can Enjoy the Performances – Virtually

Read On to Find Out More About Live-Streamed Events

A Message from Juliet Dunn, Executive Director / Artistic Producer of Niagara Jazz Festival
Posted May 6th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – I do hope that you are keeping well and staying safe during these uncertain times.  As we are still in lockdown we are doing live-streamed events every Friday and Saturday from 7 pm – 8 pm.

We are also performing for the #NiagaraPerforms series presented by the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.  Please include in your listings and we’ll look forward to having public events and gatherings soon!

Thank you and stay safe!

Kind regards, Juliet Dunn, Niagara Jazz Festival

*1* SHADY-ACRES STUDIO  (Live-Streamed event)  #NiagaraPerforms presented by the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre – The Shea D Duo featuring Peter Shea and Juliet Dunn-  Thursday, May 7, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. – 1-844-LIV-JAZZ (548-5299 www.niagarajazzfestival.com  WATCH THE EVENT HERE: www.youtube.com/channel/UCMuVejMBEj8r0suvIP7YPtA Continue reading

Sad News for Buffalo Philharmonic Fans on Both Sides of Border

The BPO – in a “difficult decision” – has suspended its remaining 2019-2020 season concerts

The BPO at Kleinhain’s Music Hall . No concerts in the theater for now but see link below for info about the Orchetra and how you can watch performance broadcasts.

News from the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO)

Posted May 6th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Buffalo, New York – The BPO has made the difficult decision to extend its previously announced suspension of concert activity at Kleinhans Music Hall through June 13, the end of the the regular 2019-2020 season. 

The BPO musicians, staff and board are extremely disappointed that we will not be able to finish out the season.

We held hope that we would be able to return to the Kleinhans stage sooner rather than later, but we continue to follow governmental guidelines and it became clear last week that any return will take much longer than anyone had anticipated. Continue reading

Canada and International Partners Launch Coronavirus Global Response Initiative to Defeat COVID-19

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

“Earlier this morning (May 4th, 2020), I joined leaders from other countries, and from civil society and industry, to work together on accelerating the global development of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and testing. …We all share a common goal – ending this pandemic.”                                      – Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Meanwhile, United States So Far Gives the Finger to this Global Initiative, As It Prepares to Declare Itself “Open For Business”

A Brief Commentary by Doug Draper at Niagara At Large, followed by a News Release from the Government of Canada

Posted May 5th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

A Commentary by Doug Draper – 

As doctors, nurses and medical researchers around the world work frantically to save lives and develop treatments and ultimately a cure for the killer virus that continues to plague us, how positive and promising it is to see Canada join dozens of other countries in Europe and elsewhere in a global effort to combat COV ID-19, and to find a vaccine that may forever grant us immunity from it.

That is what the mission of the recently created and launched international initiative, Coronavirus Global Response that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed in the following news release is all about.

Not so surprisingly, Trump and the purveyors of an “America First” brand of xenophobia around him – just as they have abandoned the international movement to address climate change, and have insulted and threatened many of America’s long-time friends and allies – is so far not listed as one of the countries participating in the Coronavirus Global Response initiative. Continue reading

Canada and the Nettherlands ‘Will Always Have a Special Bond’

A Comment from Niagara resident Linda McKellar, on the 75th Anniversary of Canadian Forces Liberating the Netherlands

Posted May 5th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Children from Holland welcome back Canadian veterans during 70th anniversary, in 2015, of the liberation of the Netherlands

A dear late friend, Douglas Peeler from Welland, volunteered although he was under age and fought to liberate the Netherlands. He was a big, cheerful man and in his later years with his white hair and beard he looked like a jolly Santa Claus.

Decades after the war a citizen he met there located him, invited him back and he took part in a parade as the star attraction leading the parade in a Jeep. He was featured in newspapers there and his wife has the photos and clippings.

One evening I was hosting Doug, his wife and another couple for dinner and he said about that honor; “I must have done something good”.

INDEED! Continue reading

How We Can Assist Brock Students in Need During These Difficult Times

Brock University in Niagara Creates COVID-19 Student Emergency Bursaries

A Call-Out from Brock University in Niagara, Ontario

Posted May 5th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

The unrelenting compassion we have witnessed from our Brock University community during the past several weeks has been nothing short of inspiring. We are incredibly proud of our community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and cannot thank our essential service and healthcare workers enough for their sacrifices.

As an institution, Brock University has been dedicated to responding to the pandemic in positive ways, from forging new partnerships, swiftly implementing new ways of learning and providing financial aid to students through the creation of our COVID-19 Student Emergency Bursaries. Continue reading

FACT CHECK – COVID Testing Falling Behind in Ontario

A COVID-19 Update from Ontario’s NDP Official Opposition Party

Posted May 5th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

QUEEN’S PARK — The NDP Official Opposition says today’s shocking drop in COVID-19 testing shows the Ford government is failing to ramp up testing to meet its own new, lowered target for tomorrow May 6th), even while using testing data as a justification for re-opening parts of the Ontario economy.

  *   Ford’s initial target: 18,900 tests per day

  *   Ford’s downgraded target for this week: 16,000 tests per day         by May 6

  *   Tests completed May 4: 14,555

  *   Tests complete May 5: 10,654

On Monday, the national average was 24,460 tested per million people, but Ontario was only testing at 22,715 per million. Alberta, by comparison, is testing 34,800 per million, or 42 per cent more tests. Continue reading

A Tribute to Canadians who Liberated the Netherlands 75 Years Ago

Canadians greeted with jubilation as Netherlands is liberated from Nazis 75 years ago this May 5th

“On this day 75 years ago today, Canadians accepted the surrender of German forces in the Netherlands, marking the end of the suffering of the Dutch people, who had endured years of unspeakable cruelty, misery, and hunger.”                                                – Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

A Statement by the Canada’s Prime Minister on the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands

Posted May 5th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Ottawa, Ontario – The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, issued the following statement today on the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands:

“Today, on the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands, we honour the incredible courage and sacrifices of the Canadians and Newfoundlanders who fought, and those who gave their lives, to liberate the Netherlands from the tyranny of Nazi Germany.

“The campaign to liberate the Netherlands saw two Canadian army corps fighting together for the first time. Led by Lieutenant-General Charles Foulkes, members of the 1st Canadian Corps fought alongside members of the 2nd Canadian Corps, led by Lieutenant-General Guy Simonds.

Both groups battled through the country’s villages, cities, canals, and farmlands to drive out the occupying Nazi forces. Continue reading

May 4th, 1970 – The Day the Youthful Ideals of a Generation took a Shattering Blow

Remembering the Shootings at Kent State University – 50 Years On

Find Out How You Can Virtually Attend the 50th Anniversary Commemoration at Kent State – this Monday, May 4th, 2020 at Noon – by clicking on a link in the Commentary below.

A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher           Doug Draper

Posted May 4th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

The cover of an issue of Life Magazine, published May 15th, 1970.

“It’s still hard to believe I had to write this song,” said Neil Young in liner notes for ‘Decade’, a compilation of some of his best songs from the late 1960s and early 1970s.

“It’s ironic that I capitalized on the death of these American students,” he went on. “Probably the biggest lesson ever learned at an American place of learning.”

The song was ‘Ohio’, recorded 50 years ago this May, and still regarded by some of the best in the business of reviewing music as one of the more powerful protest songs ever recorded

The place of learning was Kent State University, located in verdant, rolling hill country south of Cleveland, Ohio, where on a Monday – May 4th, 1970 – four days of campus protest against the seemingly endless and pointless slaughter of human life that was the Vietnam War morphed in to ‘apocalypse now’ when soldiers from the Ohio National Guard trained their guns, loaded with steel-jacket bullets, on a large crowd of student protesters and opened fired.

This iconic photo of a young person, in agony and disbelief, over the body of Jeffrey Miller, brought the horror of the whole thing home for millions around the world. Photo journalist John Filo won a Pulitzer Prize for this photo that will forever sum up the horror that unfolded that day.

Within a matter of seconds, four students (two of them onlookers who were not even involved in the protests) were dead, and nine others were injured – one of them paralyzed for life.

Shot dead and etched in some of our collective memories forever were; William Schroeder, 19, Allison Krause, 19, Jeffrey Miller, 20 and Sandra Scheuer, 20.

Continue reading

A Second COVID-19 Outbreak Declared at Greater Niagara General Site in Niagara Falls, Ontario

“This is a very unfortunate situation. We’re working to our fullest capacity to prevent further spread of this virus and protect the health and well-being of our patients, staff and physicians.”            – Derek McNally, Niagara Health’s Executive Vice President Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Executive

A COVID-19 Update from Niagara Health, Niagara, Ontario’s amalgamated system of hospitals

Posted May 3rd, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Falls, Ontario – This weekend, on May 2nd, Niagara Health declared an outbreak of COVID-19 on Unit D, an inpatient unit at the Greater Niagara General Site in Niagara Falls.

This outbreak follows an outbreak declared ths past May 1st on the site’s Trillium Unit.

A total of 13 patients and four staff from the Trillium Unit and Unit D tested positive for COVID-19. Continue reading

Environmental Groups from Across Canada Speak Up for Ontario’s Conservation Authorities

More Than 100 Groups Urge Ford Government Not To “Reduce or Constrain” Conservation Authorities’ Mandate for Protecting our lands, waters and wildlife

We count on our Conservation Authorities to have the mandate they need to work with other parties to protect and preserve places like this – Thundering Waters Forest in Niagara Falls, Ontario Photo courtesy of Lori Monroe

“Any effort to reduce or constrain the mandate of Conservation Authorities is contradictory to the interests of the people of Ontario who are facing enormous risks and costs as a result of climate change and ongoing biodiversity loss. The roles and responsibilities of Conservation Authorities are critical in protecting the lands, waters and wildlife which benefit businesses and communities across Ontario, and upon which our health and well-being ultimately depend.”                                                                – from a letter more than 100 environmental groups across Canada have sent to Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his Government

A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper Posted May 1st, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Here is some good news for Mother Earth, and hopefully for the watersheds, along with the wetlands, woodlands and meadows they host, across Ontario and our Niagara Region.

While so much focus has understandably been on the COVID-19 breakout over the past few months, more than 100 of Canada’s most renown environmental and environmentally-minded groups spent some of their time this April preparing and sending an urgent letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his Tory government.

The groups that sent the letter  include –  just to name a few – the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), Ontario Nature, Environmental Defence, David Suzuki Foundation, Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, World Wildlife Fund Canada the Sierra Club of Canada, Ontariogreen and Niagara, Ontario’s own Niagara Falls Nature Club, Bert Miller Nature Club and Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society (PALS).

The letter (a link for which is included below) calls on the Ford government not to compromise the Ontario Conservation Act in ways that weaken the ability of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NCPA) and the 35 other Conservation Authorities in the province to protect and preserve the health of vital watersheds in the regions the Authorities serve.

Good for all of these groups have come together at a difficult time like this to take this stand.

Continue reading

Niagara Region’s Chair Jim Bradley and Council Denounce “Repugnant Comments” Aimed At St. Catharines Regional Councillor Laura Ip

“There are no circumstances where this type of language is acceptable, and it only serves to denigrate a member of our community and degrade our public discourse.”                                     – Jim Bradley, Chair of Niagara Regional Council in Niagara, Ontario

A Brief Commentary by Doug Draper, followed by a Statement from Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley

Posted May 1st, 2020 on Niagara At Large

A Commentary by Doug Draper, journalist, Niagara At Large

St. Catharines Regional Councillor Laura Ip target of a repugnant verbal attack

I read about the totally out-of-line and disgusting words reportedly used by a member of the Niagara community in order to, in some sick way, humiliate and smear St. Catharines Regional Councillor Laura Ip in a story that was posted by The St. Catharines Standard this April 30th.

Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley is absolutely right to call the language, used by this person, who has run for political office in Niagara and, thankfully, has never won, “repugnant,” to say the least.

With so many other serious things going on in our lives and our world right now, my initial thought was  not to post anything about this sewage here, much less possibly give the individual in question some perverse satisfaction by mentioning his name.

Yet, since Jim Bradley and his council were good enough to issue the following statement, I certainly want to put it on for the sake of Councillor Ip, and for another reason, which is this.   Continue reading

COVID-19 Outbreak Declared On Inpatient Unit At Greater Niagara General Site in Niagara Falls

A COVID-19 Update from Niagara Health, Niagara, Ontario’s amalgamated system of hospitals

Posted May 1st, 020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Falls, Ontario – Niagara Health today (this Friday, May 1st) declared an outbreak of COVID-19 on the inpatient Trillium Unit at the Greater Niagara General Site in Niagara Falls.

This outbreak was declared as a result of a healthcare-associated case involving a healthcare worker on the unit.

Contact tracing by our Infection Prevention and Control & Occupational Health and Safety teams has determined that this case is linked to a healthcare worker previously identified as a community acquired COVID-19 case. Continue reading

Is Niagara Falls a Barrier Against Fish Movement?

“In the past 50 years or so, aquatic invasive species have expanded in the Great Lakes as a tremendous conservation concern, causing billions of dollars’ worth of damage. Both Canadian and American authorities are concerned about the potential impact of these species on the Great Lakes and are very interested in installing barrier  technologies in the Niagara River that would slow or stop their spread.”                                                                                                                  – Nathan Lujan, lead author of the study and a Gerstner Scholar at the American Museum of Natural History

A Report from the American Museum of Natural History

Posted April 29th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

New research shows that fishes on either side of Niagara Falls—one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world—are unlikely to breed with one another.

The Horseshoe Falls on the Niagara River

Knowing how well the Falls serves as a barrier to fish movement is essential to conservation efforts to stop the spread of invasive aquatic species causing ecological destruction in the Great Lakes. The study has been published in the journal Molecular Ecology.

“In the past 50 years or so, aquatic invasive species have expanded in the Great Lakes as a tremendous conservation concern, causing billions of dollars’ worth of damage,” said Nathan Lujan, lead author of the study and a Gerstner Scholar at the American Museum of Natural History.

“Both Canadian and American authorities are concerned about the potential impact of these species on the Great Lakes and are very interested in installing barrier technologies in the Niagara River that would slow or stop their spread.” Continue reading

Join the *online* Day of Action to Fix Long-Term Care

*TODAY!* All-Day, Friday, May 1st, 2020

A Call-Out from the Ontario Health Coalition, a citizens organization advocating for quality public health care in Ontario

Posted May 1st, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Dear Fellow Ontarians

COVID-19 is spreading exponentially in Ontario’s long-term care homes. The homes already suffered critical staffing shortages and inadequate levels of care before COVID-19. Now the situation is an emergency.

The Ford government has made improvements to testing, and their recent announcement to improve wages for frontline workers was a huge step forward to improving long-term care for workers and residents. We need to make sure these wage increases become permanent and get Doug Ford to address other systemic issues in long-term care. Continue reading

A Second Personal Support Worker in Ontario Dies from COVID-19 Complications

51-Year-Old Arlene Reid was a Home and Community Care Services Worker in the Greater Toronto Area

Union Representing Personal Support Workers Demands More Protective Measures from Ford Government

A Statement from Ontario NDP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath, followed by words from the Union representing Personal Support Workers

Posted April 29th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Arlene Reid, one of the many brave people who continued caring for people in Ontario during this pandemic crisis, Now she is gone too. Just calling them “heroes” isn’t enough.

QUEEN’S PARK — NDP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath released the following statement in response to news of a COVID-19 death of a personal support worker (PSW):

“I am deeply saddened to learn about the death of another health care hero to COVID-19 in Ontario. My heartfelt sympathies go out to her family, friends, and union brothers and sisters as they grieve her loss. The sorrow of losing a loved one, friend and co-worker is even more painful during this pandemic, when people can’t gather to remember and console each other.

We must continue to keep health-care heroes in our thoughts as they take on incredible risks to continue to provide our loved ones with compassionate care in the middle of a pandemic, but the province also has to do more to keep them safe on the job by ensuring they have the personal protective equipment they need.” Continue reading

Tell Our Canadian Government – No Public Dollars for Tax Dodgers

        Here is How You Can Add Your Voice to the  Call              – No public funding for corporations that dodge taxes

“Canada loses at least $8 billion in revenues each year to international corporate tax dodging.”                                                  – Canadians for Tax Fairness

“More of Canada’s peers, including France, Denmark and Poland, announced recently they will restrict corporations that use tax havens from receiving COVID-19 financial aid. Canada should also take action to keep public funding from making tax-dodging corporations and their executives richer.”        – Canadians for Tax Fairness

A Call-Out to All of Us from Canadian for Tax Fairness,  citizens advocates for a fairer tax system in Canada

Posted April 29th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

A number of countries including France, Denmark, and Poland recently announced they won’t provide COVID-19 financial aid to companies that use tax havens.

Canada should bring in similar rules to prevent our public money from padding the profits of corporations that abuse tax havens to hide their wealth and dodge Canadian taxes. Please tell Finance Minister Bill Morneau that public funding shouldn’t go to corporations that don’t contribute their fair share. Continue reading

Join An Online Day of Action to Fix Long-Term Care in Ontario!

*Friday, May 1st, 2020 – All Day on Facebook*

A Call-Out from the Ontario Health Coalition

Posted April 29th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Dear Fellow Ontarians,

COVID-19 is spreading exponentially in Ontario’s long-term care homes. The homes already suffered critical staffing shortages and inadequate levels of care before COVID-19. Now the situation is an emergency.

The Ford government has made improvements to testing, and their recent announcement to improve wages for frontline workers was a huge step forward to improving long-term care for workers and residents. We need to make sure these wage increases become permanent and get Doug Ford to address other systemic issues in long-term care. Continue reading

Trump’s America Hits Chilling Milestone in Number of COVID Deaths

Now More Americans Have Died from this Plague than were Killed During More Than Ten Years of Vietnam War

A Brief Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted April 28th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Okay Folks, you may want to pour yourself a big tall glass of lemon-flavoured Lysol or Clorox bleach for this.

Remember when the self-described “stable genius” in the White House boasted that the United States only had about 15 confirmed cases of COVID19, and that “within a couple of days, (the cases of Coronavirus) is going to close to zero.”

It will be “a miracle” the man in the White House that so many right-wing, evangelical Christians who worship him as if he were the ‘Second Coming’ declared. Continue reading

One of Niagara’s Great Naturalists and Environmental Activists is Honoured

One of the many feathered friends Marcie Jacklin and others are fighting to save a home for in the Waverly Woods in the Niagara, Ontario town of Fort Erie.

Long-time Field Naturalist Marcie Jacklin Receives Niagara Falls Nature Club’s  Top Conservation Award

R. W. Sheppard Award for 2020 presented virtually to Marcie Jacklin

News from the Niagara Falls Nature Club in Niagara, Ontario 

Posted April 27th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

A Brief Congratulatory Foreword by Doug Draper, Niagara At Large –

Through the 1980s and 90s, back in the days when The St. Catharines Standard had a full-time environment reporter and I was fortunate enough to be it, one of the people across this Niagara region who I was fortunate to meet was Marcie Jacklin, a resident of Fort Erie and long-time member of the Niagara Falls Nature Club.

Niagara, Ontario field naturalist extraordinaire Marcie Jacklin is honoured with Niagara Falls Nature Club award

A super nice, intelligent, community-minded person with a passion for nature, Marcie was not only into birding or “bird watching” as some would call it, she was actively involved in chronicling information about pollutions of bird species and the state of their habitat in Niagara – information that remains critically important for measuring the health of the environment we all need to survive, and to prosper over the long term. Continue reading

An Earth Day Gift for Mother Earth

Even during the difficult pandemic recovery, we should prioritize environmental protection. …

“This Earth Day give Mother Earth the gift of individual commitment and urge your public officials to provide necessary funds to protect her. Maybe if we apply the lessons learned from the pandemic, we can save our children’s future — and countless lives of the species we share Earth.”   – Fred Koontz, a retired conservation scientist living in the U.S. State of Washington

This Article was written and shared by Fred Koontz, a Retired wildlife conservation scientist from the State of Washington, U.S.A.

Posted April 28th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

(A Brief Foreword Note from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large –

The 50th anniversary, on April 22th, 2020, may have come and gone, but in the spirit of one wise adage; ‘Let’s make every day Earth Day,” Niagara At Large is posting this great article by a veteran conservation scientist on how we can come out of the terrible times this pandemic makes for by reshaping priorities in government, in community life and in our personal lives for a healthy and for the health of all who live on it.

So please give this article a read.  The messages Fred Koontz shares in it are as valuable to Canadians as they are to  people in his country.)

Now here is the Article from veteran conservationist Fred Koontz –

As we celebrate Earth Day, one positive outcome of the pandemic is that it might inspire some states to modernize their fish and wildlife departments, including in Washington State where I live.

Torres del Paine National Park, Chile (Photo: Fred Koontz, 2019

However, more likely is that by rushing to recover the economy, the pandemic will delay improvements. We have an opportunity to transform our state natural resource agencies’ historic environmental focus on recreation and the consumptive use of nature to a timelier goal that prioritizes protecting environmental integrity to sustain our economy, security, health and well-being.

Even during the difficult pandemic recovery, we should prioritize environmental protection. Continue reading

Ontario’s NDP Marks ‘Day of Mourning’ With Call for More Relief for Essential Workers

“On this Day of Mourning (for fallen workers), I’m launching the fight to ensure that all workers during this pandemic have presumptive WSIB (workplace safety insurance) coverage for COVID-19.”

A Message from NDP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath

Posted April 28th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Ontario NDP and Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath

“Today (ths April 28th), I stand in Solidarity with workers across Ontario and Canada in marking and especially solemn and painful National Day of Mourning.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have essential workers in our hearts, including health care workers and public health staff, first responders, pharmacy and grocery store staff, farmers, truckers and supply chain workers. We are filled with sorrow for people who have been infected at work, and we mourn the loss of workers who have died from this terrible virus. Continue reading

Hello Ontario – It’s Time For Gas To Go

“Ontario’s greenhouse gas pollution will rise sharply in the future – due in part to a return to business as usual post-COVID-19. …  If we stick with Doug Ford’s plan, Ontario will not reach its 2030 climate target.”                                                                                            – Ontario Clean Air Alliance

A Call-Out from the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, a not-for-profit citizens group advocating for clean air and clean energy solutions

Posted April 28th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Ontario’s greenhouse gas pollution will rise sharply in the future – due in part to a return to business as usual post-COVID-19, but also because the Ford government plans to ramp up the use of polluting gas plants by more than 400% to replace the Pickering

If we stick with Doug Ford’s plan, Ontario will not reach its 2030 climate target and electricity costs for Ontario consumers will continue to rise as costly nuclear rebuild projects proceed.

Fortunately, our new report, Phasing-Out Ontario’s Gas-Fired Power Plants, outlines a better solution – an integrated combination of clean waterpower imports from Quebec, with strong energy efficiency efforts in Ontario and the development of cost-effective wind power in both provinces.

This combination can supply more than enough energy to keep our lights on while also allowing us to phase out the use of gas-fired electricity. Continue reading

Ontario’s Ford Government Unveils Guiding Principles to Reopen the Province

Premier and Ministers Commit to New Phased Approach for a Safe Restart and Recovery

A COVID-19 News Update from the Office of Ontario’s Premier

Posted April 28th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

TORONTO — This April 27th, the Ontario government released A Framework for Reopening our Province, which outlines the criteria Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will use to advise the government on the loosening of emergency measures, as well as guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces.

The framework also provides details of an outreach strategy, led by the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee, to help inform the restart of the provincial economy. Continue reading

As Earth Week 2020 Ends, Here’s Hoping Things Don’t Go Back To Normal

Out of this Pandemic, Let’s Build a ‘New Normal’ that is Better for Our Lives and the Planet

A Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher           Doug Draper

Posted April 27th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

This Sunday, April 26 was the last day of Earth Week in Canada – a very special one that included the 50th anniversary of the very first Earth Day engaged in by tens of millions of people around the planet.

And I heard so many people say how depressing it is – thanks to this awful pandemic that has us shut in our homes – that we could not go out and participate in any rallies or marches, or tree-plantings or trash cleanups in observance of this milestone Earth Day,  and in recognition of all the urgent environmental challenges we continue to face.

I have also heard many lament how much the crisis we are facing with COVID-19 has taken most or all the attention away from the climate emergency that was just beginning to receive the attention it deserves, thanks mostly to younger people like now 17-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

For many environmentalists, the year 2020 began on a high note with young climate activist Greta Thunberg on the cover of Time as the magazine’s Person of the Year

It wasn’t all that long ago, back in the final week of December, 2019, that Greta Thunberg and the great fight she and so many others are waging against climate-ravaging carbon pollution, made the cover of Time Magazine, as she was named ‘Person of the Year’. And yet, somehow, no thanks to this killer virus, it now seems so very long ago.

I have also heard many people say, even as they despair over the attention the virus has taken away from the climate fight, that they hope things will soon “go back to normal.” Some say they fear things will never go back to normal.

In some respects, I share these feelings. I wouldn’t mind enough normal coming back tore- open the doors of my favourite book and record stores, or to make it safe enough to open the border so I can go visit my friends on Cape Cod,  Massachusetts. Continue reading

Ontario’s Ford Government Supporting Frontline Heroes of COVID-19 with Pandemic Pay

Government Recognizes the Dedication and Sacrifice of Province’s Frontline Workers

A COVID-19 News Release from he Office of Ontario’s Premier

Posted April 27th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Grocery store employees are among many still working at businesses considered essential by government. They risk their health serving the rest of us and deserve to be paid fairly for it. And how about tonting to pay them fairly when the worst of this pandemic is hopefully behind us?

(A Brief Foreword Note from Doug Draper at Niagara At Large – This news release came shortly after Niagara At Large posted a commentary this April 25th, praising curbside waste collectors and other frontline workers out there who are providing “essential services,” in some cases for compensation that is at or only slightly higher than a minimum wage that was capped not so long ago by the Ford government.

In our commentary, we argued that if these workers are providing services that are so essential to our lives, they should be treated more generously in the wage and benefit department for all time – and not just “temporarily” as the Ford government is planning to do here.)

Now here is the Ford government’s News Release –

TORONTO — In recognition of the dedication, long hours and increased risk of working to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, the Ontario government is providing frontline staff with a temporary pandemic payment.

This increase will provide four dollars per hour worked on top of existing hourly wages, regardless of the qualified employee’s hourly wage. In addition, employees working over 100 hours per month would receive lump sum payments of $250 per month for each of the next four months. Continue reading

Due to Ongoing Health Emergency, Ontario School Closures Extended to May 31st

Ford Government Extends Closure of Schools to Keep Students, Staff and Families Safe

Government Insists Students Will Still Be Able to Complete School Year

A COVID-19 Update from Ontario’s Government and Education Minister

Posted April 26th on Niagara At Large

TORONTO, Ontario — Today (April 26th), Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced that all publicly-funded schools will remain closed until at least May 31, 2020, as part of an effort to keep students, staff and families safe from COVID-19.

The extension was based on expert advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health and health officials on the COVID-19 Command Table and is part of the government’s ongoing effort to stop the spread of the virus.

The advice was to extend school closures for an additional period of time to permit updated modelling and data to inform next steps, given the government’s absolute commitment to safety. Continue reading

Let’s Make 2020 – 50 Years After the First after the Very First Earth Day – Earth Year!

In the Face of Global Challenges, Let’s  All Make A Pledge Together to Remain as Committed as Ever

If You Missed this Wonderful Event, Or You Wish to Experience it Again, Click on the Screen Below

News  from the Earth Network, organizers of this year’s virtual 50th anniversary digital celebration of our planet – Earth Day Live

Posted April 26th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

The 50th anniversary was an Earth Day like no other.

Though we couldn’t physically take to the streets, millions of people still took action for the first digital Earth Day. From adopting plant-based diets to participating in citizen science to pledging to vote, millions spoke up for the planet with 24 hours of action.

We also, spent the day as the #1 trending hashtag on Twitter.  The  global digital surge on all our social media platforms was a resounding success, and we couldn’t have done that without the power of your grassroots voices.

The Earth Day Live livestream drew millions of viewers from around the world. Over the 12-hour event, we heard from so many diverse voices and perspectives.

(To watch this global event, streamed live for the first time this April 22nd on the 50th Anniversary of the first Earth Day, click on the screen immediately below.)

We can’t cover them all here, but standouts included Reverend Yearwood of Hip Hop Caucus, Bill Nye, Sylvia Earle, Al Gore, Elizabeth Warren, Ziggy Marley and Ricky Kej. Speakers touched topics like voting, science, climate justice, policy, conservation and education. These voices, among so many others, helped educate and entertain us throughout Earth Day. Continue reading

Ford Government Reverses Stance Under Public Pressure, Finally Declares Community Gardens ‘Essential ’

Some ‘Good News’ from Craig Cantin, Green Party of Ontario

With an Afterword by Doug Draper at Niagara At Large on the ‘What Gives’ with ordering Community Gardens Shut Down while keeping Certain Other Places Open.

Posted April 26th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

From Craig Cantin for the Ontario Green Party – 

I have exciting news for you.

The Ontario Government Has Declared Community Gardens To Be An Essential Service.

Even during these uncertain times, victories are possible with people powered change.

This Is Because So Many Of You Choose To Take Action.

As a small-scale farmer, I know how important this decision is for tens of thousands of ontarians who rely on this source of food. Continue reading

Thumbs Up to Another Group of Frontline Workers Who Are Truly Essential – Our Curbside Waste Collectors

On this Earth Week, a Special Salute to Those Who Collect Our Waste at Curbside

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

Posted April 25th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Niagara, Ontario – Before we get too far away from this 50th anniversary of Earth Day and this Earth Week in Canada, I want to say just a little about one group of front-line workers who I’m not sure are among the first to come to mind while we have been offering tributes to front-line workers in general through this terrible pandemic crisis.

The group of front-line workers I’m taking about makes up the people who man the trucks that roll up and down our roads every week – even while most of us stay safe in our homes – picking up our waste materials at curbside.

Even in the wake of COVID-19, they are rolling up my street in Niagara, doing a very essential job, every week. How much are they worth? Probably far more than what they are currently receiving in pay and benefits. Photos by Doug Draper

I was thinking about them again this week, during Earth Day, because we forget what an important role they play in protecting our environment by making sure our waste gets to the proper destinations, including to those who can recycle as much of it as possible. Continue reading

A Message that Sums Up the Madness in Trump’s America

A Brief Commentary by Doug Draper (with a little help from Joe Biden)

Posted April 25th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for the U.S. presidency – the most powerful office in his country if, no longer, in the world, thanks to its current occupant – said in a Twitter message yesterday that he “can’t believe” what he felt he had so say in it.

It is truly breath-taking and speaks to how insane politics and the human condition has become in the United States, that Biden came out with a message like this.

As one who has covered politics as a journalist for some 40 years now, I certainly never dreamed that a candidate for a major office in any democracy around the world would feel compelled to send out a message like this. It is truly breath-taking.

Here it is –

And I think that just about speaks for itself. I had my say in a spoof piece I wrote and posted this April 24th on this madness.

If you missed it, here is the link  – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2020/04/24/looking-for-a-covid-cure-try-swallowing-a-flashlight-and-washing-it-down-with-some-windex-or-lysol/

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post, along with your name (not a pseudonym), in the space immediately below the Bernie Sanders quote.

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

Ontario Nurses Win Court Battle for Health & Safety in Long-Term Care Homes

“It was shocking to see that, instead of backing the nurses, the Ford government took on intervenor status in this case to throw cold water on the nurses’ quest to have access to the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment ).”                                                          – Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath

A Statement from Andrea Horwath on ONA court victory on PPE and safety

Posted April 24th, 2020 on Niagara At Large

“The Attorney General agrees, of course, that the CMOH’s (Chief Medical Officer of Health) Directives are applicable to LTC (long-term care) homes across the province and must be adhered to. That said, the Attorney General views the Applicants as overreaching to the extent that the relief that they seek requires LTC (long-term care) facilities to provide them, on demand, with whatever PPE (personal protection equipment) they, in their sole discretion, deem necessary.”

from the decision of the Superior Court of Justice for Ontario

QUEEN’S PARK —NDP Leader Andrea Horwath issued the following statement concerning the court ruling in favour of the Ontario Nurses Association, compelling long-term care homes to immediately fix health and safety issues for health care workers and residents during the COVID-19 pandemic:

“I want to thank Ontario nurses for taking on this fight for their own safety and the safety of patients. It’s shocking that in the midst of this crisis nurses have to go to court to protect patients and themselves.

Why should these people, who are now being recognized as front-line, essential service HEROES, have to fight Ontario’s Ford government and the private corporation sharks that own far too many long-term care facilities in Ontario, in the courts to get proper health and safety resources for these places where our seniors need their care?

The court ruling paints a picture of long-term care homes in which seniors are forced to share rooms with patients with COVID-positive residents, and front-line health workers have to fight daily to get the protective equipment they need to protect themselves and their patients. Continue reading