The March 2014 letter from the former Ontario Resources Minister David Orazetti, recently published in Metroland’s online paper, Inside Ottawa Valley and the paper edition, the EMC, included the most startling bit of environmental doublespeak I have ever read from a public official. It said in defense of the status quo, “However, the soft maples are dying — and because of this — the ecology of the wetland may shift, causing different species to form new communities.”
Its premise was that it is OK the let the Appleton Wetland die because a new ecology will take its place: as if, cattails and purple loosestrife are equivalent to a soft maple forest.
By that logic, we can clear-cut any old growth forest because new plants will fill the void, as if thistle and prickly ash are a fair substitute. Or fill in any wetland because a new ecology will emerge, because wild parsnip and burdock are fair compensation.
Three Mississippi Mills Councillors met with Minister Orazetti on the wetland issue in December 2013. I sensed intelligence in that office. I doubt the minister ever read the letter bearing his name. The real author is no doubt the man cc’d on the letter, the now retired manager of the Kemptville office, Jim Fraser. In my one face-to-face meeting with him, he showed complete disdain for any notion of saving the wetland maples and he glowed with admiration for the Mississippi River power generation companies.
The Orazetti letter also ignored public evidence from Harry Barr and Brian Gallagher in the 2013 Rob Newton documentary, Opposite Banks, where they told how they cut a board size (Barr) and installed a board size (Gallagher) that is several inches shorter than the boards used since about 2000. The Orazetti letter is about as valid in the ongoing wetland debate as flat-earth theories were for exploration in 1491.