You Can't Have Your Swamp and Drain It Too...

Written by Jamie MacMaster | originally published in The Landowner

Last summer Weezie decided that the old Maytag washer that had served us so faithfully over the course of a generation was due for replacement. It wasn't because it didn't work, and it wasn't because I minded taking the control box apart every few years and re-setting the spiral spring that pushed it through the cycles – no, it wasn't any of that. It was just because it was too old, used too much water, and imagine the electricity! So out with the old and in with the new: a double-decker combo with enough whistles, bells, and flashing lights to intimidate an Airbus captain.

Now, half of the instruction book is flight school, the other half is a collection of certificates, EPA ratings, and other government stamps and seals extolling the environmental virtues of this wash tub. I mean, according to the propaganda, this thing soaks, washes, rinses, and spins at such a rate of carbon footprint-neutrality and eco- sensitivity that Weezie was hanging around the phone waiting for that call to inform her that she was on the short-list for the Suzuki-Gore Non-Consumers Cup.

But then she did the first load….and the second…and the third. And no matter how much detergent she used, no matter what cycle she would choose, the results were the same: dirty clothes. And the only way to get them clean was to wash them twice (using up more soap, power and water) or, to pre-soak every stain with a good dose of that caustic spray-stuff that does wonders for the environment, septic systems and green esteem. In short, from an eco-perspective this washer was worse than useless – counterproductive would be the word.

But my good wife's righteous anger (after having been, ahem, taken to the cleaners) pales in comparison to the indignation that is starting to be unleashed as the initial impacts of Canada's biggest eco-scam – the McGuinty Government's green energy initiatives – are unleashed on a naïve and trusting public. Let me explain.

It's no secret that a goodly portion of Eastern Ontario's surface area is totally unsuited for agriculture. Limestone outcrops, boulder ridges and cedar swamps – interspersed with pockets of good farmland. Years ago most of it was farmed in one way shape or form; it's not hard to find stone fences winding through forests that were fields only just fifty years ago. But the first ripples of the regulatory tsunami that now engulfs Rural Ontario began way back in the early 60s, and it is no coincidence that the demise of our small family dairy farms started at that point. And the ones on this marginal land were the first to fall.

From the perspective of post-urban hobby farmers and environmentalists, the latter part of the 20th century was The Happy Time. As the small farms folded one by one some of the land was snatched up at bargain prices by larger and more profitable neighbouring operations, and the rest by (as my buddy Duffer calls them) The Harrowsmith Crowd. The better land was still farmed, but tens of thousands of acres of marginal land slowly reverted to its natural state, and as bluebirds and bobolinks disappeared from the dwindling pastures, moose, deer, fishers, wolves and beavers moved back in. A veritable Shangri-la it was….and then along came Wee Dalton and his Green Energy Act to change all that.

Now I hate to shock you Dear Reader, but as you digest this column, all across Eastern Ontario bulldozers, shovels, skidders and drainage rigs are converting thousands and thousands of acres of wetlands, forests and scrub into moonscapes…all in the name of ethanol, solar power or wind energy.

Never mind that it takes more energy to produce a gallon of corn-sourced ethanol than the energy that gallon will ever produce; hey, it's all about green energy! Clear those hundred acres of Bambi-shading scrublands, drain those beaver ponds and just send the bill to the tax-payer. And when you get it all planted, don't you worry about the price of corn dropping; the government is going to subsidize any shortfall. You think that back forty is too rocky for corn? Hell, might be just the place for a nice array of solar panels or windmills…bring in the chainsaws!

You see, I've got some hard truths for you. That icon of independence – the Dusty Old Farmer that Murray McLaughlin sang about – has almost disappeared from the Ontario landscape. In his place a clamouring horde of farm organizations, marketing boards and commodity groups which, with the apparent approval of their respective memberships, willingly swap freedoms and dignity for state control in all its forms: supply management systems, taxation exemptions, government subsidies and grants. And green energy is nothing but the prospect of endless subsidies and grants.

But there is a funny side to it all, isn't there. Here are the environmentalists – that cartel of old hippies, students, socialists and money-grubbing NGOs – howling their indignations about the despoiling of flora and fauna and decrying the ravages wrought by capitalist greed, while begging the same government that they voted for to do something about the unintended consequences of the very legislation that they applauded a few short months ago. I never seem to tire of pointing that out.

Copyright © 2013-2014 Canadian Landowner Alliance.