Editorials - Nov. 10, 2023
It will never be right
On the eve of Nov. 11, the world should be ashamed of itself. We are honouring the 105th anniversary of the end of World War I on Remembrance Day. Not only was it not the “war to end all wars”, as it was dubbed by H.G. Wells, it was not even the war to end wars in that decade. In fact, humans seem to be incapable of living at peace.
Despite our advances in education and technology and the increase in global migration, we continue along time-honoured paths of hatred and anger and bigotry. The rise of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in the wake of the hostilities in Israel and Gaza is unprecedented in recent memory. It seems the horrors of war and the Holocaust mean nothing in hindsight, as there are now hundreds of instances of both Muslim and Jewish homes and businesses being vandalized and destroyed.
The conflict in the Middle East is complex, frustrating and eternal. Peaceful protest may eventually encourage a ceasefire, but vandalizing a coffee shop in Toronto simply because the owner is Jewish or of Israeli descent will make no difference to the government of Israel.
Whether you believe that the Hamas are freedom fighters for the long-segregated Palestinian people or that Israel had no choice but to defend itself, everyone should agree that innocent people on both sides should not suffer because of their government’s ideological differences. As Hemingway once said “Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.” The current war is a crime, as are all the Islamophobia and anti-Semitic acts carried out in its name. – DS
The freedom to farm
Arguments have wrapped, but a decision is not expected until 2024 on a constitutional challenge of Ontario’s Security from Trespass and Animal Safety Act, launched by advocacy group Animal Justice.
The act was welcomed in 2020 by many in agriculture who feared trespassing from animal rights protestors on their farms, which, in many cases, is where they also live. However, animal rights activists and some journalists have been critical of the act, hence the challenge, saying it violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, especially clauses limiting secret photography of a farm and those that impose fines on those who interact with animals while on trucks. Superior Court of Justice Judge Markus Koehnen will now decide.
The act is at once controversial and complicated. At a time when farm advocacy and commodity groups are seeking to bridge the gap between rural farm operations and their city-dwelling customers, who have never been further removed from farming, it would seem that the appearance of less secrecy, not more, would be advantageous. And yet, farmers need the freedom to do their work and show the world that what they so often say is true, that no one cares more for their animals than they do. On one hand, one could say that if there’s nothing to hide, a camera shouldn’t bring about fear, while on the other, the possibility of being under a microscope at all times is unsettling for anyone.
Koehnen’s decision, whichever way it goes, will have implications across the province, especially in agriculturally-rich regions like Huron County and its neighbours. Premier Doug Ford wants to protect farmers, but did he go too far with the act, serving to protect the bad apples who, so often, spoil the bunch? It’s up to the courts now. – SL
The Ford government has found itself in an embarrassing situation that is not only raising eyebrows towards the sky but also highlighting a significant flaw in the government’s use of Minister’s Zoning Orders (MZOs). This time it’s a hasty approval for a skyscraper’s construction directly in the flight path of Toronto Pearson International Airport.
Shockingly, but unfortunately not surprisingly, the request from the developer was allegedly processed within two weeks, a timeline that raises questions about due diligence. Sources say the order was passed through the Premier’s office to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, leaving little room for thorough consideration. The real concern emerged when officials at Toronto Pearson International Airport had to intervene, emphasizing that the proposed building was situated in an emergency flight path to the country’s busiest airport. Oopsies!
After receiving feedback from the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), the government quietly amended the MZO, removing reference to the location near the airport. Unfortunately, no clear explanation was provided for these changes, leaving many in the dark.
This incident should prompt a broader conversation about MZOs. As the Ford government grapples with fallout from previous controversies, MZOs appear to be their next headache. The revelation that 18 MZOs were granted to development projects linked to individuals who attended the wedding of Ford’s daughter only adds to the growing skepticism.
It’s high time to bring transparency and accountability back into focus in Ontario governance, ensuring that the province’s goals align with the best interests of its communities and critical infrastructure. – SBS