Raul Freitas

It’s not easy being green

greenbelt-2-cara - milenio stadium



Jim Henson’s Kermit the frog had no idea when singing this tune in The Muppet Movie back in 1979, that it would turn out to be about so much more than just the colour of his skin. It seems that for every attempt to save the green, there are at least two trying to tear it down. It’s not that people don’t like green, after all, it does represent nature and therefore, us, but it tends to collide so often with the proverbial “green”, the one that so many of us more readily identify with.

So, unfortunately for all of us, when the two face off, it’s the one with the serial numbers that usually comes out on top. And why not? From birth we are taught that it is the one thing to strive for above all other things. Yes, we are also taught that there are other important goals and targets to reach, but the main one is absolute.
In Ontario, the latest battle of the greens comes in the form of a politician going back on his word, (what?!). Mr. Doug Ford has decided he’ll open up a few thousand acres of prime protected Golden Horseshoe land to developers. Luckily for many of them, by chance, they had already previously purchased many of those acres, knowing that they would never be able to build on them, because that’s what developers do. Never mind that Ford had already decided, during his campaign back in 2018, that he would do this, then, following an uproar from his target audience, he decided after all that he would not do such a nasty thing. During his 2022 campaign he reiterated his promise of not touching the Greenbelt, only to change his mind last month, saying the current housing crisis trumps saving prime agricultural and bio-sensitive land, (no pun intended, but…). I haven’t lived in Ontario for many years, so I brushed up on the situation on-line. The Globe and Mail’s Oliver Moore and Jill Mahoney penned an excellent, well researched article titled “Developers who bought Ontario Greenbelt land linked to Ford government”, dated November 28th, where this fiasco is all laid out for those who seek some clarity on the matter. Unfortunately, their requests for comment from developers were ignored. No surprise there. Needless to say, but worth mentioning anyway, the prices paid for said parcels will be a drop in the ocean compared to their value once Ford muscles his ideas through. Of course, political heads in the areas where the development is to take place are chomping at the bit to roll out the red carpet for construction, and the new “strong” mayors will douse any dissenting voices in their sessions by merely requiring a third of the votes of the house to pass anything they wish. Life is good for those with power!

My main concern, though, is the easy path is usually the one taken, no matter the consequences. The solution to this housing crisis does not lie in eating up land for farming and wildlife. It’s more like deflecting the problem. It’s much harder to go after the roots of this and other social problems because they almost always require sacrifice and teamwork. Politics will never resolve any major issue because everyone is looking out for themselves. We should be angrier at our politicians constantly blaming the other side for our woes. When are we going to finally say enough is enough? Over the last week two major issues on the world stage are looking like they may be reaching a positive outcome because people had enough, and used their collective weight, risking their lives, to try and change policy that was unacceptable. The Chinese and Iranian people have shown the rest of us that together, we have all the necessary might to bend the will of governments deemed oppresive. I’m not trying to compare their plight to that of Ontarians, just the method of resolution. Ford, and others like him, know we will usually take the easiest route, they count on it. Canada’s problems are the world’s problems, we all suffer similar injustices, and others, like in Iran, suffer even greater ones. We need to take a collective stand, a stand that is for the benefit of all. Government is for the people, not the powerful. Remember, the world did just fine for thousands of years without the proverbial green, without the other one, we’re dust.
Fiquem bem.

Raul Freitas/MS

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