This Blog will discuss politics, government, corruption, police, S.I.U., courts, education, min. of attorney general, min. of labour, v.o.i.c.e. and other current and past events of interest to concerned citizens. In the "About me" section to the right and down I have included the names of persons whom I have tremendous respect for. Their influence on me however has been primarily environmental (and personal) and this is therefore a disclaimer that all words posted on this Blog/Website are mine and I alone am responsible for them. I say this with the greatest respect and affection to my friends.
Sunday, September 29, 2019
ELMIRA WATER WOES: THE TRIUMPH OF CORRUPTION, DECEIT, AND CITIZEN BETRAYAL
TABLE OF CONTENTS
78.....2006 to Early 2007
79.....The Big Split
Dr. Henry Regier is a thinker, a writer, and an excellent speaker. I am in constant awe of his ability at CPAC meetings where he chastised various scoundrels and wrongdoers in such a fashion that at the end of his comments they would thank him. His usual targets were the MOE and Chemtura. Dr. Regier is able to call a spade a spade while avoiding personal insults even to the truly deserving. He produced a number of what I call treatises over his years as a CPAC member and afterwards. We’ve already seen his 2004 treatise in Chapter Seven regarding the Site Specific Risk Assessment.
The following verbatim treatise from Henry is dated May 4, 2006 and is titled, “A Mid-Course Correction.” I am stepping back slightly in chronological sequence but I think you the readers can keep up. Here is Henry’s treatise:
“ A MID-COURSE CORRECTION?
In discussion with FH and AM; by HR; 04 05 06
In a recent exchange of e-mail between Ron Ormson and me, Ron commented as follows”
“I would hate to see CPAC die with any departure of the current good members, although nothing lasts forever. Perhaps a …quasi-legal arrangement with the MOE-Woolwich-Crompton-Region of Waterloo is required to ensure something actually occurs.”
At CPAC’s March breakfast meeting about the long range plan, Ron and I both queried how the plan would be implemented. I wanted to know what MOE’s signature meant operationally and Ron asked about “teeth” as I recall. I suggested that we may be converging on “inter-jurisdictional adaptive co-management”.
According to the Municipality’s terms of reference, CPAC needs some reconsideration currently with an option of enrolling new members. This could be a good time to consider an alternative organization to that of the current CPAC.
So I support Ron’s idea as sketched in the quote above. Such a reorganization could be premised on wide-ranging changes that seemed to have occurred in the basic positions of different stakeholders and hence the relationship between them in the last couple of years.
Important progress has been made with (still partial) documentation of hazards and with (still partial) remediation of some hazards still related to our shared (but still partial) understanding of what works and what doesn’t work with respect to numerous aspects of this complex issue.
MOE officials are now better informed, are more involved in CPAC meetings, are reviewing more company documents critically and are taking important practical initiatives.
Elmira’s Crompton company has a personable new manager who has shown strong evidence of committing to collaboration, with support from his head office and with strong involvement of his local staff.
Much of the technical information that the company now offers is more compendious and reliable than was the case a couple of years ago and before that.
The Municipality may be ready to rematriate the ownership deed for Elmira back from the company; with a new election we may end up with more than just one councillor actually demonstrating concern about local contamination with commitment to its remediation.
The Region and GRCA may be ready to move beyond their shared modus operandi of denial on the contaminants issue; over the years the ethical stance of Eric Hodgins has been much-appreciated and Sandra Cooke is expanding her water quality work.
With happy collaborative experiences in the future, impatient activists may actually experience growing confidence that Elmirans and many more people downstream and downwind won’t be victimized until the end of time by this Company’s legacy and current practices, and thus be less censorious in their communications and interventions.
Altogether, time for a major mid-course correction? To inter-jurisdictional adaptive co-management? (Gail Krantzberg of McMaster University could advise us on such a transformation.)
From a perspective of soil and water issues, I think that it would be crucial that Alan Marshall should be active in any new governance arrangement, if he so chooses, as a community representative perhaps on a retainer. As a whistle-blower and an avenging angel against injustice, he remembers more about the relevant details of past contamination and related documentation than anyone else. Within adaptive co-management to implement the long-range plan, sharing a credible narrative of the past is helpful.
In addition to her leadership on soil and water issues, Susan Bryant has excelled in coercing remediation of fumigations and inducing more responsible plant management generally. So her participation in a new organization is essential, though it is presumptuous of me to make this point.
Fred Hager and I are looking for an opportunity to resign because of creeping senility, and the thought of a better organizational arrangement in the offing could help us to recognize that our stellar kinds of expertise would then be redundant. “
Author’s note: Henry was into his seventies when he wrote this treatise but believe me, twelve years later he is still as sharp as a tack. I can only hope to age half as well as he has. Fred Hager was a chemist at Uniroyal until retirement. He was a UPAC/CPAC member for years.
2006 to early 2007
In October 2006, Pat McLean lost her Ward One Council seat to newcomer Sandy Shantz. Pat McLean had served several terms on Council, was experienced, and presented herself well. What she didn’t have was the township hockey lobby behind her as Sandy Shantz did because she, Pat, wasn’t pushing hard for two ice pads in the new Arena as Ms. Shantz was. She also didn’t have either Ms. Shantz’s looks or Mennonite last name. As superficial as both those attributes were, they carried the day. Ms. McLean had been the Council representative on UPAC and CPAC for six or seven years and normally would have been off CPAC when she lost her Council seat. Her good buddy Mayor Bill Strauss, threw her a bone and said she could stay on as CPAC’s chair; however, Ms. Shantz would be Council’s new township representative. Irony of ironies, Ms. McLean behaved quite nastily to Ms. Shantz in the early days of Sandy Shantz’s term on CPAC. I took Ms. Shantz under my wing and provided her with background maps and simple documents to assist her learning curve. On more than one occasion Pat intentionally didn’t advise Ms. Shantz of either CPAC breakfast meetings or other CPAC related information. This neglect was a reflection of Pat McLean abusing her position as CPAC chair for personal benefit or payback. I kept Ms. Shantz in the information loop and on one occasion when she was left out of the loop as a CPAC member, by Ms. McLean the Chair, Sandy Shantz said to me “Oh, that brat!” That was interesting to me in that Sandy clearly recognized Ms. McLean’s willingness to be nasty simply because she’d lost the election and that Ms. Shantz, while provoked, was quite restrained in her response.
CPAC were advised on January 26, 2007 that the Ammonia Treatment Plan was just about ready to go and in fact by November was supposed to be under construction. Unsurprisingly, construction was not ready to go for more than another year. This delay had nothing to do with my later objection to the Ammonia Treatment Certificate of Approval because all CPAC parties, including myself, had no objections to construction taking place while we were waiting to see if the Environmental Review Tribunal would hear my appeal of the 2006 Certificate of Approval (C of A).
On February 26,2007, Crompton Co. presented in Woolwich Council Chambers its “Worst Case Scenario.” The public were advised that a major leak of anhydrous ammonia was their worst case scenario from a human health standpoint. This Worst Case Scenario was extremely serious to the point that there was an effective kill zone within several hundred metres of the plant if a wind was from the east blew westwards into town when a spill occurred. To this day, that Worst Case Scenario hangs over the heads of nearby residents as well as the rest of Elmira. The Worst Case Scenario also should have been a much larger factor in a later OMB hearing regarding a proposed residential development to occur within the kill zone. It was not and in a future chapter I will discuss that OMB hearing.
The Big Split
Unknown to most of the CPAC members including me at the time, Pat McLean and Susan Bryant were in September and October 2007, negotiating by telephone with the Ontario Ministry of Environment in regards to the Ammonia Treatment C of A. The MOE had learned that opposition could be reduced by discussion and negotiation ahead of introducing either control orders or C of A s. Officials negotiated with the company in private while at the same time negotiating with other stakeholders if such were actively involved in the issues under consideration. As a voting member of CPAC, I would not have been surprised if Ms. Bryant or Ms. McLean had received the odd phone call from the MOE outside of the CPAC venue. Actual negotiations, however, were a whole other matter. Over the years Ms. McLean hypocritically had blasted the MOE for private talks with Uniroyal Chemical on matters under discussion at public CPAC meetings and had told the MOE that public consultation meant that the public stakeholders were to be fully involved in discussions, negotiations, and updates on all matters relevant to the restoration of both the water supply and the natural environment in and around Elmira. It turned out that what resulted was Pat and Susan talking to the MOE privately just as Crompton did. That woefully uninformed and out of their depth pair usurped the authority of CPAC by making decisions on matters that never went to CPAC. For a number of years Dr. Regier had repeatedly asked me if I knew of some sort of executive committee within CPAC. I had never known of such a committee that had been advised or voted on by the CPAC members. If I had known that such a body existed, I would have publicly and loudly quit CPAC in disgust. As far as I was concerned, it was one vote per member with no members being more “equal” than others.
I slowly became aware that these telephone conversations must be occurring because of the nature and specifics of Ms. Bryant’s concerns when she called me asking for technical advice. The advice she sought could either be chemical, hydrogeological, or even historical in nature. Ms. Bryant was often much better informed than almost anyone at CPAC with the exception of Ron Ormson and Gerry Heidbuurt on air issues and me on ground and surface water issues as well as basic chemical matters dealing with names, chemical components, etc. Ms. McLean knew little or nothing technical about any of the Crompton technical issues even after she’d been chair for a decade.
After a few phone calls, it began to dawn on me that Ms. Bryant was negotiating the Certificate of Approval (C of A) over the phone with the MOE rather than at CPAC. I was a little surprised albeit not too worried as at least she was checking with me as a CPAC member who had greater knowledge than she and Ms. McLean had. Secondly I presumed all this background information would be brought before CPAC for member approval if not for discussion. I did advise Ms. Bryant that I had been carefully reading the technical details about this proposed C of A and that I had found a significant problem. The on-site pump and treat system for the municipal aquifer supposedly had to be shut down while the new and improved ammonia treatment system was under construction. This was very bad news. Therefore, the MOE had required Crompton Co. prove ongoing on-site hydraulic containment of the highly contaminated municipal aquifer such that new contamination wasn’t leaving the Crompton site and hence extending the thirty- year time frame required for off-site clean- up. In order to easily determine the status of containment, the MOE and Crompton Co. devised a system whereby well “pairs” would be assigned to each other, one being nearby off-site and the other nearby on-site. The idea for the pairings was that a quick look at the groundwater elevations in these well pairs could indicate whether or not the on-site municipal aquifer was leaking off-site.
I advised Ms. Bryant that off-site monitoring well, CH97, due south of the site was a huge problem. CH97 was of course matched with an on-site well, screened in the municipal aquifer as was CH97. The problem was that while CH97 was screened in the municipal aquifer, that aquifer at that location was not what is known as a confined aquifer. In other words there was not an impermeable or even semi-impermeable aquitard above and below the highly transmissive, water- saturated aquifer i.e. the upper (shallow) aquifer is directly connected to the deeper municipal aquifer at this location. The result was that the CH97 monitoring well would have much higher groundwater levels in it than any other monitoring wells in nearby municipal aquifer monitoring wells. These higher groundwater levels and readings would then wrongly and inappropriately be used by Crompton Co. to “prove” successful hydraulic containment on-site during the greatly reduced on-site groundwater pumping of the municipal aquifer. Frankly, I didn’t believe for a second that this was simply bad luck or an inadvertent mistake on Crompton’s consultants (Conestoga Rovers) part. It was a typical piece of junk science in my opinion and fully expected that they hoped to hide their loss of hydraulic containment due to greatly reduced pumping and treating of contaminated groundwater on-site.
I described this reality carefully to Susan including advising her where this information was located but she asked me if I would meet with hydrogeologist Wilf Ruland and go over this technical problem with him. I readily agreed to and shortly thereafter Mr. Ruland phoned me to arrange a time for he and I to meet. A couple of days later Wilf Ruland met me at my home, in the kitchen, where I had the reports and most importantly the stratigraphic boreholes and cross-sections just south of Crompton Co. spread out on the table. I showed Wilf all the details, the diagrams, and the cross-sections of the sub-surface with the various wells in them including CH97. Initially I sensed some skepticism on his part about my findings but within a few minutes his attitude totally changed. He was suddenly involved and engaged and I could tell that he was shocked at the data. Monitoring well CH97 was screened in the municipal aquifer but completely, directly connected to the upper aquifer as well. Either contaminant readings or groundwater elevation readings in that well clearly could not be assigned as readings in the municipal aquifer. The two aquifers were joined as one right there. Wilf was speechless. I didn’t expect that he was going to jump up and down or call me a hydrogeological prodigy but I did expect a flat out, plain spoken yes you’re right. He wouldn’t do it. He didn’t give me any explanation or argument or any indication whatsoever that there might be other factors or relevant considerations that might somehow mitigate this apparently obvious goof on Conestoga Rovers part. He did suggest that he would certainly explain everything to Susan clearly and that yes, well done for my astute observations but he so avoided committing himself that I was concerned. I had reason to be as it turned out.
I spoke with Ms. Bryant a couple of days later and I asked her if Wilf Ruland had stated plainly to her that Conestoga Rovers choice of CH97 was a totally inappropriate well for an off-site well pair because it was directly connected to the upper shallow aquifer as well as to the municipal upper aquifer. Ms. Bryant hesitated and then said no, he had not. I likely responded with a “What the hell?” Susan Bryant then added that it was too late anyway to make a change because the MOE were going ahead with the Certificate of Approval as it was, including CH97 being part of the off-site well pairs being used to prove hydraulic containment during the construction of the new ammonia treatment system. I then asked Ms. Bryant if she meant that the MOE were going to take the Certificate of Approval, as was, to CPAC for their input. “Well, no” said Susan. “Why the hell not?” I asked. Susan responded that she, as part of the Soil & Water Sub-Committee, and Pat, as Chair of CPAC, had given their okay to the MOE to proceed with the Certificate as it was. I was stunned. I was speechless. And I did not see the trap unfolding. Why would I? Oh right, because of several prior instances of bizarre behaviour on Susan’s part. What is obvious to me now still wasn’t then in the fall of 2007. I took Susan’s words at face value. I wasn’t on my guard around her as I was around both Crompton Co. and the MOE who were proven miscreants.
It is possible that I had a flashback to Ms. Bryant’s behaviour at the Comprehensive Long Range Plan (CLERP) discussions at Uniroyal two or three years earlier. She had just admitted to me that she and Pat had just done exactly what I caught her doing earlier on and had confronted her about. What was the difference this time in 2007? That was the question I should have asked myself and did not. The answer was that Henry Regier was now gone from CPAC and Pat McLean and Susan Bryant, while having extensive support from most CPAC members weren’t prepared to play political games with me while Dr. Regier was still a member and still so highly respected by all.
I was disappointed, I was angry, and I was mostly shocked. What the hell did Susan Bryant think she was doing bypassing CPAC? Who the hell did either she or Pat McLean think they were, speaking on behalf of CPAC without any kind of consultation with them at all? I slowly began to realize why my calls for additional CPAC meetings were ignored by the Chair Pat McLean. Essentially, Ms. McLean and Ms. Bryant were, behind CPAC’s back, using CPAC’s status and numbers of members to legitimize their decisions and direction they wanted. Another thought crossed my mind. Did the MOE know that they were dealing with only two citizens and not with all the voting members on CPAC including myself? Of course they did. The MOE was doing it intentionally for two reasons. First, it was a hell of a lot easier to pull the wool over Ms. McLean’s and Ms. Bryant’s eyes than it was to do so over the entire CPAC membership. Second, it was much faster and more convenient to conduct business with two people versus seven or eight. One or two phone calls were a whole lot easier to make than waiting for the next monthly public CPAC meeting and then pitching its proposals to CPAC as a group whose members would often take their time in deliberations, questions, and research. It was a win-win-win for the company, for the MOE, and for Ms. McLean and Ms. Bryant. CPAC, the public, and the environment were often the losers. Crompton Co. as well had to know what was going on. After they negotiated with the MOE they should have expected vigorous debate at CPAC yet the matter wasn’t even raised by the chair or anybody else. How many other issues had there been and were resolved by this back door method?
Another matter came to me shortly afterwards. Henry had sensed or known that something was amiss. Perhaps he had picked up on disappearing issues at CPAC that months later were suddenly presented as done deals. Perhaps Henry Regier was far more politically astute than I was. Perhaps he had already experienced more of Susan Bryant’s peculiar behaviours with her supposed friends and colleagues than I was aware of. This was exactly what Henry was referring to when he asked me if there was some sort of executive committee within CPAC that either met or made decisions on its own. A light came on inside my head at Susan Bryant’s revelation that the MOE was proceeding with the Certificate and had “CPAC’s” approval. It was neither bright nor clear but from this point onwards, I began to look at things in a different light. Too little, too late perhaps. Or not.
Certificates of Approval, like control orders, require public notice. They also allow for appeals by all parties and stakeholders. At least in theory they do. Recall years earlier in 1995 when APT unsuccessfully tried to appeal the Upper Aquifer Containment and Treatment System (UACTS). They were supported by both Richard Clausi and I with the Environmental Hazards Team (EH-Team) and the Region of Waterloo, yet they were denied leave to appeal by the Environmental Appeal Board (EAB). It’s all about politics folks, not facts.
Regardless, I appealed this Certificate of Approval. I went through an onerous and arduous process of not only formally requesting leave to appeal the C of A but I eventually sent the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) a couple of hundred pages of technical backup to prove the quite frankly obvious fact that at least one of the well pairs, demanded by the MOE to “prove” hydraulic containment during the Ammonia Treatments System (ATS) construction, was poorly chosen and in fact grossly inadequate and would give misleading information as a result.
Susan Bryant and Pat McLean were not amused that I had appealed the MOE’s Certificate. After all they had improperly, on their own, given the Ontario MOE the go ahead with it, allegedly on behalf of CPAC. It mattered not that the MOE knew that Ms. McLean and Ms. Bryant had no such mandate or authority from CPAC and, if they did, it was conducted behind closed doors without all voting members present. Maybe if it ever did occur it was at one of Pat McLean’s “breakfast” meetings without all members present. No such mandate to make private decisions was ever put in writing and distributed to all CPAC members.
I was aware that something was very rotten, very close to home. Wilf Ruland was being way too cautious and prudent and uncommunicative with me, a voting member of CPAC, regarding what appeared to be a black and white hydrogeological issue, his area of expertise. By this point in time in the fall of 2007, Henry Regier had warned me about the relationship between Mr. Ruland, Pat McLean and Susan Bryant. Dr. Regier had suggested that Wilf Ruland seemed to be parachuted in every couple of years or so to give support to Ms. McLean’s and Ms. Bryant’s opinions, to enlighten CPAC, or to comment hydrogeologically on the latest report by Conestoga Rovers. Henry Regier suggested that Wilf Ruland’s role therefore had changed dramatically from his initial role as adviser and consultant. When he participated now he talked strategy and direction for CPAC, which really wasn’t his area of expertise. While I admired and trusted Dr. Regier’s technical expertise and his integrity, I had been a friend and colleague of Susan Bryant’s for seventeen years. I had only known Dr. Regier for about seven years. Turned out, Henry Regier was right all the way down the line. My bad.
Ms. Bryant phoned and asked if I would be willing to participate in a meeting with Chemtura, CRA, the Ministry of Environment (MOE), and Wilf Ruland. The meeting was to be a form of mediation intended to determine if we could come to an agreement and some sort of compromise on the issue of the efficacy of CH97 as part of a monitoring well pair. The meeting was to discover if all parties could avoid the time, expense, and trouble of a formal hearing. Hallelujah, I thought. Common sense and reasonableness might prevail yet. Once again, I was deceived and fooled by someone whose integrity and decency I trusted for so long in this battle to environmentally protect our community and the health of our neighbours.
Fortunately, I had learned a decade earlier never to go to private meetings alone with people lacking in the human characteristics of fair play, forthrightness, and decency. I learned this good sense, of course, the hard way when I had to deal with the Waterloo Region District School Board. This time I imagined that Ms. Bryant had come to her senses and to clear up Conestoga Rovers’ bone- headed plan to use monitoring well CH97. I invited Henry Regier to join us. As was usual, none of the parties were interested in an evening meeting at which Richard Clausi could attend. Mr. Clausi was a teacher and was in the classroom during the day.
The meeting began as scheduled. MOE officials were present along with a number of Chemtura personnel such as Jeff Merriman and Dwight Este. Conestoga Rovers & Associates (CRA) was out in force. Susan Bryant, Wilf Ruland, Henry Regier and I were there. Perhaps a couple of others. I will give to Wilf Ruland this recognition: he tried. Oddly, while never straightforwardly telling me that I was dead on the money with my concerns, Mr. Ruland did show CRA the stratigraphic cross-sections of the sub-surface and explained them clearly. Wilf Ruland was direct, honest, and compelling in his presentation and he was ignored.
CRA didn’t even have the courtesy or respect to agree or disagree with Mr. Ruland’s presentation. They didn’t give him any comment. They didn’t suggest that his concerns even merited so much as a glance. Chemtura followed suit as did the Ontario MOE. Mr. Ruland, seeing the writing on the wall, backed down. By that, I don’t mean he put his tail between his legs and ran. I don’t mean he was necessarily cowed. He simply accepted it without question or complaint. He was beaten and he immediately surrendered.
I looked at him. He had been doing an excellent job advocating for a CPAC member on behalf of the public interest and they had shut him down cold with literally zero rationale or explanation. They didn’t tell Mr. Ruland that his analysis was inaccurate. They didn’t tell Mr. Ruland that his analysis was thoughtful and well worth bringing forward. They went out of their way to be ignorant and arrogant. And he just sat there.
I stood up and told CRA, Chemtura and the MOE off. Bluntly and concisely in a manner that they were not used to but should have been treated to by citizens on an almost ongoing basis. “Fine,” I said, “If you want to be this stupid then you obviously want to go to a formal hearing. This meeting is over, right here and right now.” I packed up my paperwork and walked out.
That should have been that, right there in regards to the disgusting behaviour of Chemtura and Conestoga Rovers. The MOE, of course, just sat there and made no attempt to get those two parties to either discuss or negotiate in good faith. Susan Bryant and Pat McLean had nothing to say at this meeting. They should have demanded that Chemtura give some kind of rationale or justification for so readily dismissing Mr. Ruland’s presentation without even an attempt to explain why. I had attended upon Ms. Bryant’s request and with full intention of listening carefully to any technical points or facts that Chemtura or their consultants had regarding the issue of CH97 drawing both shallow and deeper groundwater and thus it being inappropriate to measure groundwater levels in the municipal upper aquifer.
Neither Chemtura nor CRA seemed to have attended in good faith. There had been exactly zero attempt to discuss, clarify, or persuade anybody of anything. They simply said no, everything was fine. End of story!
It was obvious to everyone present from Henry Regier to Wilf Ruland, Susan Bryant and me that this meeting was a set-up of some kind. Of course I didn’t realize that I was the one being set up. Unknown to me, that gutless piece of crap Wilf Ruland then sent a letter to CPAC members giving them an ultimatum. He would no longer work for them as long as I was a member of CPAC! He supposedly didn’t like my “behaviour” at the meeting that he and Susan Bryant had set up. No mention of course about the behaviour of the other parties or my defense of his and my evidence of the facts.
Susan phoned me a day or two later and demanded my resignation. I responded: ”From what?” “CPAC” she said. “Who exactly are you to demand my resignation from CPAC?” I asked her. She simply said that I had to resign from CPAC because by appealing the C of A I was in contravention of the will of CPAC members who wanted the Ammonia Treatment System built in an expeditious manner. I laughed at that one and told her that it was years past the ATS being built expeditiously. Susan repeated that I needed to resign forthwith. “No thanks,” I stated. She hung up.
Part of the irony here, of course, is that Pat McLean and Susan Bryant, just like Woolwich Council six years later, violated every rule, term of reference, and code of conduct for CPAC that you could imagine. Six years later, Woolwich Township Councillors would demand private meetings with CPAC even after their own Chief Administrative Officer David Brenneman had ordered CPAC from 2011 onwards never to hold private meetings. This order even included private, get-togethers after members would be appointed to CPAC in 2011 by Woolwich Council.
Pat McLean then called a private meeting of CPAC after Susan Bryant’s phone call to me and intentionally did not advise me, the subject of the meeting, about it. She and Susan Bryant badmouthed me and misrepresented the facts to the rest of CPAC and those idiots accepted that improper meeting as appropriate and swallowed the self-serving prevarications of the two members who had been caught in the act speaking and negotiating on CPAC’s behalf without appropriate authority. I may have been naïve about personal relationships and even politics, but I would have never stood for a pair of CPAC members calling a private meeting to discuss getting rid of a voting member behind that member’s back. That takes a really special kind of human being to play political games like that especially with someone who had always supported and treated them well. Clearly, we had totally different ideas about what democratic institutions were all about. Ms. McLean and Ms. Bryant believed that rules governing committees, etc., were simply there to be manipulated and violated with impunity as long as you felt you had enough votes to back you up. Deceit, lying and ignoring rules was their specialty.
I was informed by Ms. McLean about the private meeting that I had been excluded from and was plainly disgusted with both her and Susan Bryant. Pat McLean had always concerned me although she was generally careful never to step out of line to my face. Susan and I had been friends and colleagues since 1990 and I had trusted her implicitly for all those years despite disconcerting behaviour that I have identified. As upset as I was, I still hadn’t grasped the implications of what that pair were doing. Nor did I have any understanding of the betrayal of both the public and APT that Susan Bryant seems to have been involved in for years. To this day I am not sure if her actions were due to accolades and awards from the GRCA, the Region of Waterloo, or wages from Conestoga Rovers for editing work or even possibly her background in Rochester, United States where her father was an executive at Kodak, a large U.S. polluter. Or, did she actually believe that she alone, technically and intellectually, was designated and qualified to be the sole voice on behalf of the citizens of Elmira with Pat McLean simply as a political protector? Had I become competition to Ms. Bryant in her mind? Do recall Pat McLean’s hostility towards me in June 2007 at her home and what I thought at the time was a somewhat paranoid accusation of me.
I had never questioned Susan Bryant’s commitment to the environment but I was now. What was the real reason that she and Ms. McLean clearly wanted me off CPAC? Was it all about preserving their control and pre-eminence over CPAC? That seemed very odd and unlikely to me. Did they both believe that if CPAC understood the reality of what they had done, speaking and negotiating on CPAC’s behalf without proper authority, that they would get the boot? Was this some sort of power play that I wasn’t remotely interested in or being a part of?
I was then advised by Pat McLean that there was an upcoming meeting of CPAC, after the secret one, to discuss my future with them and I was invited. How sweet of you, I thought. The invitation was in writing, likely by fax. I did not respond and I did not attend because I wanted first and foremost to have a legitimate opportunity to have a discussion with the CPAC members regarding the ATS and the inappropriate well pairs that were in the C of A. Shortly thereafter I received a written note advising me that CPAC members had voted me off of CPAC. The swine.
Councillor Ruby Weber got wind of things a week or so later and phoned me to tell me that Pat was doing what she did best, which was usurping authority. CPAC members had virtually zero authority on their own to kick one of their fellow members off the committee. Council and council alone had that authority, not any committee of council. Well? So the whole pretend set-up meeting along with Wilf Ruland’s accusations against me, combined with Pat McLean and Susan Bryant telling CPAC that they needed to give me the boot was all a joke? A farce? A charade? Surely, I thought, Pat and Susan have some explaining to do now. They’ve just set me up, orchestrated a phony scenario, held an improper private CPAC meeting and falsely told CPAC that they had the authority to kick one of their own members off of CPAC. The scheming of Ms. McLean and Ms. Bryant really couldn’t get much more obvious than that it seemed to me. By this time I didn’t so much underestimate the dishonesty and nastiness of two self-serving women as much as I overestimated the common sense and reasonableness of all the other CPAC members. Exactly how stupid were they? Plenty stupid it turns out.
During the 1990s, other UPAC members and I often found ourselves at odds with Councillor Ruby Weber. The impression we had was that she simply had too much faith in, and respect for, Uniroyal Chemical. I never found her to be deceptive or dishonest; she simply appeared to have more confidence than I ever had that Uniroyal would eventually step up and do the right thing. Then, Ruby and I actually ended up on the same side in regards to the Waterloo Region District School Board. Her brother, Jim Wideman, had been the Chair of the Board and Ruby’s granddaughter along with my son was on the receiving end of some unprofessional behaviour by a Board employee. Since that school board problem then and this issue now with Ms. McLean and Ms. Bryant I started to look upon Ruby much more favourably. She stepped forward and simply said no to my being railroaded.
Additionally, while I had lots of reasons to be dissatisfied with Woolwich Township’s lack of gumption towards Uniroyal and their subsequent corporate ownership, I mistakenly hadn’t paid enough attention to just how slick council and senior staff could be in matters of public deception. David Brenneman, the Township’s Chief Administrative Officer, took the lead in setting up a process allegedly designed to patch up the differences within CPAC. It apparently would not do for Township Council to simply kick me off of CPAC despite former councillor and current chair, Pat McLean’s wishes. Yes she and Susan Bryant along with Wilf Ruland, who always knew who buttered his bread, had manipulated a bunch of Susan’s friends and colleagues on CPAC into voting me off the island. Or, at least that’s what I was told by Ms. McLean and Ms. Bryant. I never did see or read anything directly from CPAC members. Regardless the township felt the need to put a ribbon on this whole public embarrassment and so they introduced some interviews and mediation.
These attempts too, were just another sham. This time David Brenneman and councillor and CPAC member Sandy Shantz were involved - the same Sandy Shantz who had gotten off to a bad start with Pat McLean. However, politics are strange bedfellows. Both Ms. McLean and Ms. Shantz at a later date would run for mayor although not at the same time. Ms. McLean lost to Todd Cowan and Ms. Shantz won four years later against Todd with Ms. McLean actively campaigning on her behalf. Todd Cowan, however, had self-destructed by that time with an expense scandal. Irony of ironies, Sandy had her own expense scandal in 2015 and 2016.
Finally, being much more attuned to the lying and manipulation going on, I was on my guard. The defining moment occurred in a private meeting with me and several councillors, Sandy Shantz and David Brenneman. The allegations against me, as often with false allegations, were a moving target. Now, as CPAC had voted me off the island allegedly, Pat McLean and Susan Bryant had expanded the allegations into my being disrespectful, rude etc., to CPAC members. Of course, zero CPAC members were at this meeting, to substantiate this allegation in addition to only Ms. McLean, Ms. Bryant and Ms. Shantz. Okay, I thought, here is how to shut this down. I buttonholed Sandy Shantz directly in front of the council members. “Sandy,” I said “In your time on CPAC have you EVER seen or heard me disparage, criticize, or insult any CPAC member, yourself included?” Stunned silence from Sandy. She hadn’t expected that. She hemmed and hawed and possibly even stuttered a bit. I further asked “Have you ever seen or heard me criticize or insult any CPAC member either in a public meeting or even in a private breakfast meeting?” This simple, straightforward question had only one simple and honest answer, namely “no,” and she didn’t want to give it. Finally, she weasel - worded her answer and said, “I don’t remember any particular incident of that.” That right there should have been the end of my respect for Sandy Shantz. That lack of endorsement from a first-hand witness told me volumes. She was in on the railroading. Furthermore, after she supposedly had voted me off of CPAC along with the rest, exactly how was she going to justify that behaviour to Council while admitting that my relationships with the CPAC members were fine? The answer was that she didn’t have to. Council wanted me off just as much as Ms. McLean and Ms. Bryant but they had no honest grounds to do so, and hence the drivel about my behaviour at the Chemtura meeting, combined with my appeal of the C of A, and then the pathetic shots at how I got along with my fellow CPAC members.
I am a team player, far more than many. I would never criticize or undermine a fellow CPAC member especially in front of the public, Chemtura, CRA, or the MOE. The only thing that I was guilty of was being brusk, and yes , skeptical of the professional deceivers at the table, and that meant Chemtura, CRA, and the Ontario Ministry of Environment. That was why they wanted me off CPAC. I wasn’t willing to play the pretend public consultation game that they all were. CPAC members, like the public, seemed to have become pawns to be manipulated by Pat McLean and Susan Bryant and apparently Sandy as well.
Ruby stuck to her guns to support my membership to CPAC but in the past she had often been outvoted by the other Woolwich councillors. They dillydaddled all winter and didn’t bring the issue to a Council vote until the spring of 2008. Mark Bauman was not present for the vote, yet a few years later he crowed in a Council meeting about voting me off of CPAC twice. And the fool wonders why I have nothing but contempt for him. Murray Martin who has never in nearly thirty years ever attended a UPAC or CPAC, RAC, or TAG meeting voted me off as did Sandy Shantz and then mayor Bill Strauss. That would be Bill Strauss owner of two grossly contaminated sites namely the Heidelberg Service Station and the Strauss Fuel Depot on Arthur Street at the north end of Elmira. As stated, Ruby voted to keep me on CPAC but was the only vote of four to do so. In hindsight, it is an honour to be voted off that municipal committee by such a pack of disgraceful, self-serving, pro - polluter hypocrites.
Susan Bryant it seems had decided a long time ago to lay down with the political dogs. As the saying goes she may have picked up a few fleas.
The media were essentially surprised by the whole mess. Ms. McLean, Ms. Bryant and Sylvia Berg, of course, all blamed the victim, me. The Council clowns all pretended to be neutral and simply trying to pour oil on troubled waters by allowing Chemtura and the MOE’s favourites, Pat McLean and Susan Bryant, to get my dissenting voice if not silenced at least somewhat muzzled. Sandy Shantz made cooing sounds about how I could continue on at CPAC meetings as a member of the public. Henry Regier came out of retirement and blistered Wilf Ruland, Pat McLean and Susan Bryant in one very harsh, for him, Letter To The Editor (Woolwich Observer) on May 3, 2008.114 Dr. Regier very pointedly asked questions about paid consultants whose income, mandate, and even position on issues could have been compromised. In other words, was Wilf Ruland in a conflict of interest position regarding these events and could that have induced him to take positions contrary to a CPAC member to the advantage of Chemtura and its consultants?
In February and March 2008, both the Woolwich Observer 115 and the Elmira Independent 116 weighed in on the final outcome. The Observer’s cartoon while a simplification, nevertheless, like all cartoons, has a strong element of truth in it.
I find Gail Martin’s Editorial to be absolutely excellent. It covers so many of the plain, simple, and clear truths. CPAC, Pat, and Susan had no legitimate or honest reason to give me the boot. Dissent or disagreement is not a crime. Neither is ruffling feathers or even irritating people. In the context of public consultation, these differences should not be reason to remove someone from a volunteer committee whose mandate is an environmental cleanup to protect public health. Certain designated and elected people felt unpopular opinions or ones that create strong debate are not welcome at CPAC. As stated by Gail, “nice, peaceful meetings” are not and should not be the primary goal of CPAC despite the wishes of Pat McLean, Susan Bryant, and Wilf Ruland. I have one objection to Ms. Martin’s Editorial and that is characterizing me as a “critic of CPAC”. I am an unrepentant critic of Chemtura, the MOE, CRA, and others whose self-serving interests lead them down the garden path of fictional facts and highly truth challenged statements.
ENDNOTES for Chapter 9
114 Letter to the Editor, Woolwich Observer, May 3, 2008
115 Scott Arnold, “The View From Here”, Woowich Observer, April 2008
116 Gail Martin, “Dismissal of Marshall is troubling”, Elmira Independent, March 2008