This should be an interesting year for Clarington residents, and in fact for everyone in Durham Region. It is an election year, so self-serving rhetoric will abound from many incumbents and from some challengers.
When considering your choices, take the time to get to know a little about the candidates. Incumbents have an advantage with built-in name recognition, but just recognizing a name is not a reason to vote for someone. Some of our worst representatives both locally and at Regional Council are incumbents. Certainly in Clarington that is the case in my humble opinion.
When deciding who you might want representing you at the region, keep this question in mind: Do you want a watchdog for Clarington residents or a lapdog for Regional interests and an unelected chair above all else? We need watchdogs, not lapdogs. We need people with the courage to stand up for their own municipality and residents and not people who will 'compromise' (sell out) on issues of great importance to our communities. We need politicians who don't say "I was elected to represent the Region of Durham" (Mayor Abernethy). I thought he was elected to represent the municipality of Clarington.
There are always wonderful EXCUSES made by politicians for the decisions they make. Some are valid, many are not.
Revisiting the incinerator decision
What is wrong with this picture? Lots. Do we need servicing for employment lands designated as the Science Park in Bowmanville and the Energy Park in Courtice? Yes, we do. Are we held hostage by Durham Region's unelected Chair and reduced to begging to get our fair share? Yes. Should we perhaps find another way to pay for servicing of these lands, other than being reduced to accepting buy-offs from the Region just to get an agreement to begin an EA to consider servicing? Is there a law that says we must depend on Regional tax money for our services rather than being inventive and thinking outside the box to find a better way where we can be the authors of our own destiny instead of waiting for crumbs from the Region? Clarington has not gotten our fair share without having to give up more than anyone should - being the garbage dump for the Region. Sewage plant and municipal waste incinerator, auto wreckers, nuclear plant and cement factory, new 407 link and on and on - all spewing unhealthy emissions and adding to our already poor air quality and health risks. And all right along the 401 - gateway to Clarington! Such a beautiful sight. Rationale from the consultants: this air shed is already so polluted, adding a little more won't make a difference. Well sorry, but it makes a difference to us. To the residents of Clarington!
Were our 3 Regional Councillors (Mayor Abernethy, Councillors Novak and Trim) right to completely disregard votes taken at Clarington Council (before the flip-flop of Local Ward 4 Councillor Gord Robinson) declaring us an unwilling host, and not supporting the building of an emission spewing incinerator in our community? Were they right to completely support every vote at the Region to promote the building of an incinerator, start to finish over the last few years? Were they right to completely disregard the overwhelming majority of residents who care more about their health and the health of their children and grandchildren than getting half-baked promises from an Region that we no longer have any faith in?
Are our Regional representatives right to sell out our future health for a 'business plan' that is totally dependent on Durham Region? Who has faith that the Region or Province will adequately monitor this garbage burner? Both their records are lacking historically and the vote of Regional Council to reduce monitoring from what was originally promised to residents because it would cost too much, appear to care more about their own financial health than the physical and financial health of their residents, especially those in Clarington and in Oshawa who will be most heavily affected by emissions. But remember that all surrounding communities, including those outside of Durham Region, will be affected by the increase in tiny particulate matter which can have a profound effect on health and by a substantial increase in dioxins and furans, known cancer causing emissions. These emissions won't be adequately monitored, and some won't be monitored at all. I suppose many of these politicians subscribe to the idea that "What we don't know won't hurt us".
Hype and Hyperbole
I hope those same politicians are given a pile of hurt in October. There has been too much dishonesty, too much hype and hyperbole.
Here is a question that should be asked of each one of those who voted on June 24 to approve the very faulty EA (more on that later) produced to support building of the now infamous Durham Incinerator:
"Your rationale or excuse for continuing to vote approval of the incinerator forward at each milestone was that you wanted to get ALL the information. You said that you were voting forward the incinerator at each step of the way without having complete reports or having satisfactory information at that point was so that you could get more information at the next step. If that were true, then WHY did you vote to approve an incomplete EA with incomplete reports which where completed and submitted to the Province more than a month after you voted to approve? Why have no questions been asked or protests lodged by Regional Councillors after seeing that this EA was incomplete and faulty. Why are you still supporting it?"
More questions might be asked as well, such as, "Why did you consider only the hired gun's (consultants) and proponents of incineration to have credible information but not that of local and regional doctors and doctors and scientists worldwide? Why did you not consider the credible articles in medical journals, peer reviewed and widely accepted that were presented to you by local residents? Why did you allow yourselves to be reeled in and see only what the proponents wanted you to see? Why didn't you give both sides equal consideration?"
We'll get into specific claims and comments made by our incumbents during this election year (both past and present statements). But I implore you to get involved this year. We have several incumbents in Clarington who should be replaced due to past performance on a number of issues; in my estimation 4 of our 7 Clarington Councillors need to 'feel the pain' of their callous disregard for the health of their citizens. Health and quality of life should be a #1 priority, and an incinerator is inconsistent with both objectives.
There are better alternatives. Incineration is the most expensive, least environmentally friendly solution to the waste problem. This fact is being shown across North America by Councils and Trustees choosing better solutions and refusing to capitulate to the incineration industry and their claims of safety. Sure incinerators are relatively more safe now than they were 20 years ago. But does that mean they are safe? NO. It means they've cleaned up their act somewhat, but the technology does not yet exist to make them "safe".
The horse-trading by a powerful, unelected Regional Chair must be curtailed, especially when it benefits another Region (York) and hurts physically and financially residents in our own region. Backroom deals between York and Durham have been ongoing for some time. Durham must be put first for a change. These deals so lauded by some of the lapdog politicians are not so great for Durham, if you take the time to investigate them and not just settle for the distortions and embellishments served up on a platter for and by Regional Council and Committees.
WAKE UP CLARINGTON! Get involved. Voice your concerns. Make your voice heard. Don't settle for less than we deserve. Don't settle for lapdogs instead of watch dogs for our municipality.
Watch for more information on all of this - 2010 election, incineration health risks, better solutions, Regional shortcomings, and of course the "Elect The Chair" campaign, renewed.