Why Is Bill Blair Still Toronto Police Chief

If there is one thing I thought all Canadians agreed on, in it was the rule of law and that the role of the police was to enforce the laws made by our elected governments not make up their own.

I find it hard to understand how a chief of police could admit to making up his own law and instructing the police to enforce it, while lying to the public about it, without adding "therefore I resign immediately". It does not even matter whether the law was enforced fairly or appropriately, which in this case the evidence indicates it was not - the police do not make up their own laws. It seems to me there can be no greater crime that a police chief could commit than to do that and upon admitting that there is no choice but immediate resignation.

Am I missing something. Why is there not total and complete public outrage over this. Are there really that many people that think a police state is acceptable, even for a weekend.


The G20, Peaceful Protests, Black Bloc Vandalism and Police Violence

The rationalizations are coming out now for why the police were conspicuously absent when acts of vandalism were taking place (away following peaceful protesters around Toronto streets), why they abandoned police cars for the Black bloc to torch (was it inadvertent, incompetence or intentional), and why they decided the best way to counteract a small group of criminals was to attack peaceful protesters, media and bystanders by detaining, arresting and even assaulting them for simply exercising their Charter right of peaceful assembly.

The rationalizations being - it worked, there were no incidents of vandalism on Sunday so whatever the police did was justifiable - they did arrest some criminals so that justifies the arrests of hundreds of innocent people along with them - and the ever used, people were asking for it by being where the police did not want them to be and refusing to do what the police ordered, whether lawful or not.

Indeed the overkill of police intimidation no doubt played into what changed the protests from protests against the actions of the G20 into demonstrations in support of the Charter right of freedom of peaceful assembly.

While we all deplore the vandalism of the Black bloc tactics, interestingly enough there were no reports of physical harm to people resulting from them, while there are many reports of physical harm from attacks on innocent people by the police, as well as massive attacks on the civil liberties and Charter rights of Canadian citizens.

The Story in Videos

For more reports from citizen journalists see Progressive Bloggers.

Over 900 people were arrested and the police claim about 400 will be charged with criminal offences, a tacit admission that over 500 innocent people were arrested. My prediction is that after the Crown Attorneys look at the actual evidence and eliminate those charged simply because they were talking to the wrong people or were wearing black in the wrong neighbourhood (sounds familiar, except for the "wearing" part) less than 100 will actually be charged with anything.

On the upside I suppose it was educational - for a weekend Torontonians and all Canadians got to see what it is like to live in a police state.



Be sure to watch from beginning to end (and from end to beginning).

From AARP U@50 Challenge


South March Highlands - The Video

The story of the South March Highlands and why it must be saved, in under five minutes. A must watch video.

Best viewed full screen in 720HD


the5thColumnist Is a Twit

Yes, I've decided to become a twit, or a twitterer or whatever you call one who tweets. I've been watching Twitter for awhile and decided to try it. Like most forms of Internet technology I think it is misused more than it is well used, particularly as another way for celebrities to say "I'm more popular than everyone else - I have more friends without lives of their own following me than you do."

One of the things I think Twitter is really useful for for is live blogging - allowing 'citizen journalists to cover events live just like the mainstream media as well as for disseminating in formation on political/social/environmental campaigns and events.

I will probably be using it primarily to let followers know when I have updated either of my blogs - The Fifth Column or Richard' GPS Trail Maps and occasionally to draw followers attention to other blog posts that I am really impressed with.

So why now. Well I just broke my arm a week ago in a mountain biking accident and will be unable to bike for 6 to 8 weeks and somewhat limited in what I can do with just one useful arm and hand so I'm probably going to be spending more time at the computer for awhile.

You can find me on Twitter at Richard W. Woodley (the5thColumnist) on Twitter. You do not have to have a Twitter account to access this page and read my twits.


Saving the South March Highlands - Pursuing the Possible

(click map to enlarge)

As the above map indicates only approximately one third of the South March Highlands are protected within the city owned South March Highlands Conservation Forest, although originally all the lands were zoned with environmental protection.

The way zoning works, as far as environmentally protected land is concerned, is that developers can apply for rezoning through the municipal process or by appealing to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) as many times as they want. If they lose they can keep coming back with new proposals using the outspend, outwait and outfrustrate strategy to combat environmentalists and communities that want to protect environmentally important lands. However once land is zoned for development it is virtually impossible to undo it - because that would be taking away landowners rights. The environment, apparently, has no such rights.

Indeed developers make a large portion of their profits from "political development" - buying protected land cheap and using their influence to get it rezoned for development and massively increased in value.

If you look at the zoning map below (with the protected land approximately indicated in orange) you will see that about half of the non-protected lands in the South March Highlands are developed or zoned for development, and about half are zoned as Environmental Protection Zone (EP) or Parks and Open Space Zone (O1). We know that the zoning does not provide protection as all the lands were originally zoned protected.

(click map to enlarge)

Zoning Codes Used on Map

Residential Third Density Zone R3
Residential Fifth Density Zone R5
Parks and Open Space Zone O1
Environmental Protection Zone EP
Agricultural Zone AG
Rural Residential RR
Rural Countryside Zone RU
Development Reserve Zone DR

So how do we set priorities in terms of protecting the undeveloped land from development.

One strategy, and one hard to argue with, is to focus on the most urgent threats to the land, which at the moment is the construction underway on the Terry Fox Drive Extension and the imminent start of work on the KNL housing development. This brave battle has been taken on by the Coalition to Save the South March Highlands (website in progress) and the I want to save the land North of Beaver Pond Park in Kanata Ontario Facebook Group. Unfortunately these are both very difficult battles to win.

The City seems determined to ignore its own demographic information indicating no urgent need for the road and to completely undermine the environmental assessment process in order to get free federal money for this environmentally devastating project. Everyday that construction continues we get closer to the point of no return. Perhaps the old saying needs to be rewritten to "free money is the root of all evil".

The battle over the KNL lands has been fought between the developers, the community and environmentalists for literally decades until the community just ran out of the ability to keep fighting. A brave last stand is underway but unless KNL can be convinced to sell the land and someone can be convinced to buy it and protect it, it's loss is inevitable.

But there is another strategy. One that can be undertaken alongside these brave attempts to stop the highway and save the KNL lands. It is a strategy that looks to the future - to save SMH lands before it becomes almost impossible to do so.

On November 10, 2000 the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton announced the purchase of 556 acres of the South March Highlands for $1.6 million at the urging of Kanata Regional Councillor Alex Munter who has stated his biggest achievement would be putting South March Highland into public ownership to keep it protected. These are the lands that along with Trillium Woods form the bulk of the currently protected lands in the South March Highlands Conservation Forest.

If one examines the zoning map you can see that an additional area of almost the same size within the South March Highlands is zoned either as Environmental Protection Zone (EP) or Parks and Open Space Zone (O1).

No matter what happens in the battles over the Terry Fox Drive Extension and the KNL development the City of Ottawa must move immediately to acquire this land, using it's expropriation powers if necessary, before it undergoes the "political development" process and it's value is increased. As it stands, there is very little the landowners can do with it other than pay taxes on it. The City would be doing them a favour by purchasing the land (their hopes of using their political influence to increase it's value being irrelevant).

It is clearly in the public interest to purchase these environmentally sensitive and important lands and it is becoming increasingly apparent that is also what the public wants.

This strategy is clearly very possible.

As to those pursuing the strategy of trying to achieve the near impossible - Keep up the battle you might yet succeed and if you do not you will have raised public awareness and moved public opinion in a way that hopefully provides City Council with the political will to do the possible and save two-thirds of the South March Highlands rather than one-third.