Letter – Written by Mike Boudreau, President, OntORA.
Friday, 28 February 2014
This is in reply to your recent public response to my letter to you of February 23rd last. I have for many years tried to avoid public exposure of very questionable practices by some MNR personnel, because I believed we could resolve our access issues in a civilized and collaborative manner, and that disreputable conduct by some MNR employees would be dealt with. I was wrong on both counts.
Since 1984, I have been an active member of many committees trying to resolve public access problems with your staff. The MNR started in about 1983 to privatize our lands and waters using the District Land Use Guidelines (DLUG) and by deliberately publicly misrepresenting the true intent of this document.
Since 1983, this has led to the MNR continually decommissioning roads, removing culverts and bridges, berming and erecting signs on roads to stop all motorized vehicular access. I started then travelling across the northern Ontario to make OFAH and Rod and Gun clubs aware of our dilemma. The feedback from all northern MNR Districts was the same – public access problems were starting but were more pronounced in the Chapleau and Wawa districts.
Today these public access issues have proliferated across the North as witnessed by all your Timber Forest Management Plans and annual work schedules listing the high numbers of roads, bridges and culverts being removed, or roads being decommissioned. Article 50 of the Public Lands Act relieves the MNR of all financial or legal liability for unsafe roads or bridges and culverts. Whatever happened to the “USE AT YOUR OWN RISK” philosophy prevalent for decades if not centuries? The MNR is rendering these roads impassable in order to protect one user group to the detriment of all other user groups. And using the false excuse of “liability and conservation” to justify their preferential treatment of the remote tourism industry. It is an unacceptable two-class standard which Ontarians will someday defeat.
You leave me personally, and OntORA, with no alternative but to expose the corruption and injustice that started with some employees of your Ministry. I certainly will not reveal the details of my evidence until a public enquiry is called or a media investigation is initiated. We know the vast majority of MNR employees to be fair, honest and trustworthy. A few bad apples have partially corrupted the barrel and they should be exposed, so that justice can be served and our public lands and waters returned to the taxpayers and owners.
In your reply to my letter, you stated that the Ombudsman’s Office investigated and determined there was no basis to pursue the complaint. You forgot to mention that the Ombudsman merely accepted the word of the MNR officials questioned, and did not take any steps to verify the information with third parties or subject MNR comments and rebuttals to a legal test.
The Ombudsman may have, in part, relied on the fact that MNR used an internal directive that appears altered to quote that right, title or interest only pertains to estates and nothing less than estates, i.e.: MNR land use permits, which in reality are leases. Since then we’ve found several related documents that refute this claim with direct reference to the fact that right and interest does apply to land use permits, plus the Public Services of Ontario Act which is very clear in denying Ministry employees these opportunities.
Further, the Ombudsman’s office has no legal capacity to make such decisions when credible evidence is presented to them, and they were legally responsible to take the evidence to the proper authorities for a decision. Instead, they meekly accepted MNR defence as gospel.
At the appropriate time and venue, I will reveal to the proper neutral investigative body or media the solid facts regarding documented incidences and ownership by MNR employees and favouritism exercised in the selection of lakes and lands for bear baiting and other operations on Crown lands.
If you are asking yourself what motivates me and thousands of other Ontarians to keep fighting to regain our natural outdoors heritage, just ask yourself this question: Can you name one outdoors person who is willing to forfeit his God-given rights to his own lands and waters, so that someone else can reap financial benefits?
C.C.: Media & MPP