Hawks soar for Hunter
Hawks circled overhead at a tree-planting ceremony to mark the opening of the 500-acre Bob Hunter Memorial Park, named after the late Greenpeace co-founder, author and broadcaster, in Markham Monday, August 21.
During the ceremony, Hunter's widow, Bobbie Hunter , gave a moving tribute. "Bob always used to wonder if his life had been worthwhile. I received surprising testimony to this question after he died. People from all over the world told me that they had chosen to work in areas of journalism, environmentalism and politics because his life had demonstrated that you can make a difference."
Premier Dalton McGuinty added further details about how the global outpouring after Hunter's death prompted the government to create a park that will provide rare forest habitat for pileated and hairy woodpeckers, wood thrushes, scarlet tanagers and ovenbirds.
The importance of the park - and to some extent of the timidity of the McGuinty government's efforts to rein in urban sprawl - was inadvertently underscored during the ceremony by the noise of construction from the neighbouring Box Grove subidivision that will eventually extend immediately across from the park's western boundary, a railway line.
Like Bob Hunter Memorial Park, the Box Grove land was acquired by the provincial government in the 1970s. In the late 90s, the province sold it, a decision the Ontario environmental commissioner criticized because it was made without the legally required public consultations and environmental reviews.
Already, hundreds of mature trees have been clear-cut for the subdivision, which will eventually build over aboriginal village sites and encompass eight road crossings, threatening to sever and block fish and wildlife corridors.
At the ceremony for Hunter Park, environmentalists like Rick Smith of Environmental Defence expressed the hope that before the next election the McGuinty government will move to prevent more desecrations like Box Grove by expanding Rouge Park. There are 3,000 acres of publicly owned land in the area that could still be preserved.
Expanding Rouge Park would protect the provincial government against developers currently spending millions in the courts trying to get conservation easements on surrounding green areas lifted.
In such ongoing struggles, the living legacy of Bob Hunter will be dramatically put to the test, something the direct action advocate would no doubt have appreciated.
Hotel workers push hot button
Delta Chelsea hotel workers got pinned by their employer after sporting union buttons and red ribbons to work in support of the recently concluded AIDS conference.
On Thursday, August 17, two workers were suspended without pay after wearing Hotel Workers Rising! union buttons along with red ribbons. According to UNITE-HERE Local 75 spokesperson Andrea Calver , an additional 70 workers were suspended the next day - the hotel says it was actually 45 - only to be sent back to work a day later.
Says Calver. "They wore them in the Sheraton and the Hilton without incident. It was only the Delta Chelsea that had this clearly out-of-proportion response."
The disciplining of the hotel workers seems to have been prompted by an ongoing labour dispute involving Local 75, which has been bargaining since January on behalf of 6,000 workers at the Delta Chelsea, Hiton and Sheraton hotel chains for improved wages, benefits and pensions.
Delta's lawyer, Stephen Shamie , says staff were suspended for "insubordinate conduct" because the hotel already gave out an official AIDS conference pin for its employees to wear and that the additional union button and ribbon looked "cluttered and unprofessional."