Chet Greason, Gazette staff
Stratford Democracy Watch held an Earth Day Rally on Monday, April 22. The protest, “entitled Climate Change, Water, and Canadian Democracy,” attracted over 30 people to an area of parkland at Waterloo Street and Veterans Drive.
“We’re calling people’s attention to the politics of Earth Day,” said organizer Lesley Catling. “We feel the federal government has been particularly lax in their protection of the environment as opposed to corporate interests.
“They’re not listening to the people,” she added. “The majority of the Canadians are concerned with the environment.”
Catling cited the Harper government’s opting out of the Kyoto Protocol, subsidizing of big oil, and muzzling of government scientists as examples of its harmful policies.
Josh Mongillo, a concerned citizen in attendance, spoke about the cancelled Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) in Northern Ontario.
“They produce fresh water research not done anywhere else in the world ... and they’ve been totally defunded.”
Mongillo noted that it only cost the federal government $2 million annually to operate the research centre, as compared to the $14.5 million that was spent on economic action advertisements.
“I feel that money could’ve been spent elsewhere,” he said.
Another major concern brought up at the rally concerned Line 9, a 40-year old underground pipeline used by oil and gas company Enbridge to transport crude oil beneath Ontario. The line runs from Montreal to Sarnia, transporting oil beneath downtown Toronto and nearby Tavistock.
“They want to start pumping dilbit (short for diluted bitumen) through it, which is 10 time more corrosive,” said Mongillo. “Imagine a spill in Toronto ... millions of people would be out of water.”
Dawn McLaughlin spent time speaking to the gathering, telling the story of the German scientists who pulled out of tar sands research in order to save their professional reputations.
“A lot of time and money is being spent making sure that we don’t get transparency on the environment,” she said. “And you can’t have democracy without transparency.”
McLaughlin, 61 and a grandmother of one, said she attends these protests because of her concern with her generation’s legacy.
“We’re out here because a lot of us have grandchildren,” she said. “This happened on our watch. Bless the young people in attendance, but this is not their fault.
“I feel terrible handing over this world to you guys, leaving you to deal with what’s coming down the pipe.”
Stratford Democracy Watch is a grassroots group of citizens that meets monthly at the Falstaff Centre on Waterloo Street. Its next meeting will be held on Monday, May 27 at 7 p.m.