Donald Trump, Mike Harris and why draining swamps is not a good idea! By Frank Giorno

As an environmentalist, I take a strong exception to Trump’s smug declaration that he is going to drain the Washington swamp.

Trump talks of swamps as if they are bad and need removal or draining.

Even in the metaphorical use of the term, it is obvious, Trump knows nothing about swamps and how important they are to the functioning of an environmentally sound planet and local environment. He also knows nothing useful about how governments work and the value of civil servants.

Trump wild-eyed, crazy

Trump! Drain thyself.

And what Trump calls the “Washington Swamp,” he really is referring to a highly skilled, competent civil service corp of talented people, who have sworn to serve their country and protect the nation’s institution and values.

Serving his country is a concept that the money-crazed, self-promoting, money-grubbing, narcissist, like Trump, has never practiced in his entire life.

If John F. Kennedy’s philosophy was summed by up the phrase, “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” then Donald Trump’s philosophy can be summed by by something like this – ” Ask not what your country can do for you, but what your country can do for me!”

Free rides paid by taxpayers to promote Trump’s businesses in New York, Virginia, Mar-a-Lago are the very real examples of the Trump Doctrine of self-enrichment at the public’s expense.

Swamps, bogs, marshes, fens, slews are so important in generating plant, wildlife, bird, fish, reptilian, amphibious and insect life on our planet. Something Trump can’t or won’t grasp.

What is it with fascists and neo-fascists and draining swamps! You may recall that Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, also gained some notoriety by draining the Pontine Marshes – in that case, it was lauded because it helped eradicate the malaria health threat which was savaging Italy.

But in North America, we do not have that problem. Wetlands not only generate species diversity, but they provide protection against flooding from storms and hurricanes, because the cattails and other marsh and swamp vegetation slow down the speed of flood waters.

Those torrents of wildly raging, flood waters we see on TV, are quite often made possible, because civil authorities, in their full blown ignorance, drained swamps and cleared marshlands — wetlands if you will, that helped prevent flooding.

The Charles River Study by the US Army Corp of Engineers (1965) concluded as much when they examined the flooding issues in Boston, Massachusetts.

That classic study is referenced on page 9 of the National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration document Wetlands: A Restoration Guide.

NOAA Guide to Restoring Wetlands

I learned about this when I was the research director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association, back in the 1980s, and was fighting along  side the inspirational Jim Richards of the Oshawa Second Marsh Defense Association to save Oshawa Second Marsh from being drained and turned into a harbour that was never really needed in the first place.

Swamps, bogs, fens and marshes contain a wealth in diversity of  species of flora and fauna. They support and contain plants that could hold the secret for curing one of the many debilitating diseases out there.

Getting rid of the metaphoric Washington swamp is also unhealthy, because by doing so, you lose a lot of talent, skill and know how…look at how incompetent Trump’s Washington swamp replacements have been.

Let’s start with his firings during his campaign in 2016: Corey Lewandowski, Paul Manafort.

Since he assumed the presidency, Trump has hired and fired the follow Swamp-Replacer, Michael Flynn.

He has hired and demoted Kelly Anne Conway; Steve Bannon, the not- so- bright, former editor of Breitbart News, with its open pandering to racist and white, Christian, supremacist sentiments in America.

Recently, word out on the Washington street is, that Donald Trump has the axe ready, and poised to chop his suffering, lamentable spokesperson Sean Spicer.

Trump would be better served if he just shuts up, stops his maniacal late night tweeting, and reins in his insane grandiosity; and  starts listening to experts for once in his sorry, bankruptcy ridden-life – six at last count. Will his presidency be his seventh bankruptcy?

Failure to listen to advice, in his businessmen days back in the 1980s and 1990s, cost him his reputation as a smart deal maker, as author Harry Hurt III points with overwhelming evidence in the must read book “The Lost Tycoon”.

Harry Hurt III if you are reading this please write a sequel — “The Lost President.”

I went through a very similar draining and culling exercise,  while working as a civil servant at the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (1989-2000) after the election of Ontario’s proto-Donald Trump-like, Mike Harris in 1995.

During that tumultuous, Harris era, talented civil servants  were laid off  by Mike Harris, in his mad pursuit to pare down Ontario’s expenditures, so he could hand out cash to Ontario voters, and to keep his commitment to a 30 percent tax cut.

harris-mike-swears060214

Former Ontario Premier, Mike Harris, was the Donald Trump of his day (1995-2002). His policies destroyed the Ontario Conservative Party which has not been returned to office over the course of 15 years and 4 elections. This photo shows Mike Harris, testifying at the Commission of Inquiry into the Killing of Dudley George, headed by Justice Sidney Linden. Photo courtesy of CBC

Imagine the humor I felt, when I received a cheque for $200 in the mail from the Harris government, several months after I was purged out his government when my job as Senior Water Quality Communications Advisor was abolished…I had seniority and that was the only way to expel me from the Ontario’s not so civil service (at least it wasn’t under Harris).

I returned the cheque, and told Harris “no thanks, I would much rather be employed.” NOW Magazine ran my letter at the time.

Many fine civil servants, from the Assistant Deputy Minister level to the grunt level, like me in the Communications Branch of Ministry of the Environment, got axed.

Like Trump, Environmental protection was diminished under Harris, and the cuts to water quality inspectors – cutting  staff  by a third, resulted in the seven deaths at Walkerton due to residents drinking contaminated drinking water, concluded a Commission of Inquiry into the Walkerton tragedy.

Like Trump, Harris played a racial identity card to galvanize his base. Harris’ racism was aimed at Ontario’s First Nations, and the killing of Dudley George, two days after Harris took power in September, 1995, is an example of this.

I do not accuse Harris of racism lightly, I merely quote the findings of Justice Sidney Linden in his report into the killing of Dudley George.

CBC coverage of Justice Sidney Linden’s Findings on Ipperwash

In his final report on the Ipperwash Inquest into the Killing of Dudley, George Justice Sidney Linden said: “that he didn’t believe Harris, when he claimed he never made a racist statement about the occupiers, during an informal government meeting with provincial police just hours before George’s death.”

A CBC online report on Justice Linden’s findings states: “Harris acknowledged during his testimony that he wanted the occupation brought to a quick end, but denied he said, “I want the fucking Indians out of the park,” as former Ontario attorney general Charles Harnick alleged during his own testimony.”

“After carefully assessing the evidence, it is my view that Michael Harris made the statement,” Linden wrote. “I agree with Premier Harris’s characterization of the statement … as racist.”

“Harris’s sense of urgency, in contrast to the “go-slow” approach of police,”created an atmosphere that narrowed the scope” of potential peaceful resolution to the occupation, Linden said.”

“The provincial government could have appointed a mediator or negotiator at any time, but did not,” Linden wrote. “The premier could have urged patience, rather than speed.”

“Linden also found Harris and Harnick misled the legislature about the so-called “dining-room meeting” involving government officials and police, and by doing so, contributed to the appearance of inappropriate interference and a lack of transparency by the government.”

Like Mike Harris 22 years-ago, Trump has expressed his racism through the anti-Islamic Executive Orders, and anti- Black, dog whistles, nudges and winks, that galvanized support from bigots like Steven Bannon and the KKK and his deplorable base.

Both Harris and Trump played the divisive politics of the divide and conquer, that plays to the worst prejudices of their  political base.

In Harris’ case, the province-wide teacher bashing broadcast of the fall of 1996, paid for by taxpayers money, will go down as another low point in Ontario’s recent history, along with his involvement in the dynamics that led to the killing of Dudley George, and the gutting of the Ministry of the Environment that resulted in 7 deaths of Walkerton residents from drinking contaminated water in May, 2000.

Yes, I am proud to this day, at being gutted by Mike Harris, around May 20, 2000 just as the seriousness of the Walkerton situation was exploding in his face.

Ironically, I was the Senior Communications Water Quality Communications Advisor, – but Harris and his minions would not listen to my advice to preserve Ministry integrity and undo his cuts to MOE enforcement staff.

Sound advice from within rejected.

I was hardly the only one advising Harris to reconsider his disastrous course. Many senior, life-long civil servants in the Water Resources Branch, like the manager of the Drinking Water Section and the ADM of the Environmental Science and Standards Division; and the ADM of the Operations Divisions, which included the regional inspectors, did the same.

But Harris chose to listen to ass-kissing, sycophants, that he could really do more with less – those voices Harris rewarded with promotions.

When I was approached on many occasions  to put out press statements that Great Lakes Water Quality had improved despite the Harris cuts, I said give me the scientific proof first, otherwise I cannot say Ontario’s water is doing better with less environmental protection.

This was sound advice to the Harris government, because if later, a rash statement like we are doing more to protect the environment with less money being spent,was proved to be a lie – it would destroy the Conservatives Party.

And this nonsense that Harris promoted that the environment was better, cleaner, greater despite the 30 percent cut in inspection staff was, sadly, proved to be a lie, with the tragic, preventable loss of seven lives, as a result of the tainted water in Walkerton, that Justice Dennis O’Connor attributed to the lose of provincial oversight over the operation of that municipal water system.

I am proud to say I resisted Harris and for that –  my position as Senior Water Quality Communications advisor was abolished in an MOE reorganization that was taking place as people were dying in Walkerton, in May, 2000.

Like Harris before him, Trump loves playing to his base by  bashing of  perceived foes – like environmentalists and condemning the media as the enemy of the people.

But Trump plays to a global audience bashing friends and foes alike over free trade and other issues like Canada, NATO, Mexico, Germany, Australia, Japan while praising suspect nations like Putin’s Russia, Turkey under Erdogan and he even said nice words about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un – this all defies logical explanation, leading many to wonder about Trump’s mental health.

Like Harris before him, Trump lives in the delusion of his own thinking, and then uses bully tactics to get his way. They both deny responsibility for their failures and blame others instead.

Both Harris and Trump have had deleterious  impacts on their government’s health

Harris Health Care Cuts

Both Mike Harris as Ontario Premier and Donald Trump have had a deleterious impact on health care.

care policy. Harris in Ontario made  deep cuts to health care. In the US, Trump is obsessed with dismantling of Obamacare which according to some polls is more popular with Americans that Trump – 56 percent want Obamacare left intact, while only about 35-44 percent support Trump.

Harris’ policies, resulted in the deaths of eight known people in Ontario — Dudley George, on day two of Harris’ take over as Premier two days after Labour Day in 1995; and the seven people who died from drinking contaminated water in Walkerton in May, 2000.

The final report into the deaths in Walkerton caused by tainted drinking water

CBC News Highlights of the Walkerton Inquiry Final Report

Trump we know has killed many people in Syria with his “showboat” air raid on a Syrian air strip and the dropping of “the mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan.

http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-syria-airstrike-20170406-story.html

Instead of draining swamps, metaphorical or real, I suggest the American people drain Trump, before he drains the nation, and drains the Grand Old Party, the Party of Lincoln – The Republican Party.

Republicans, especially take note your very survival is at stake.

Mike Harris, Ontario’s Pre-Trump Trumpster, resigned in 2002. Some say he resigned in disgrace as a scandal was roiling over the deaths in Walkerton, the killing of Dudley George.

He also left his wife and his alleged adherence to Conservative family values in 2000 in order to pursue a relationship with Sharon Dunn, a former a CBC news reader who was previously married to millionaire John Sikura. Sikura died, in a still, unexplained, fiery car explosion in 1992.

The Resignation of Ontario Premier Mike Harris

Despite professing to adhere to family values, Premier Mike Harris dumps wife to pursue relationship with former CBC News Anchor

There is no doubt Ontario’s experience and disgust with Harris’s policies and behaviour, left the Ontario Conservative Party, irreparably damaged, and it has never returned to power in the intervening 15 years since he quit and turned the reins over to Ernie Eves in 2002, barely three years after winning a huge majority in the 1999 election. The lack of Conservative Party success at the polls has occurred, despite some woefully weak Liberal Party governments since that party took over control of the Ontario government after the 2003 election.

The Conservatives have failed to form another government either under John Tory and Tim Hudak.  Time will tell in 2018 how current Conservative leader Patrick Brown will do against  the hugely unpopular Kathleen Wynne Liberal government in the next election.

Simply, Harris did to the Conservative Party in Ontario what Trump is doing to the Republicans in the United States.

The so called “Trump effect” that many political and media analysts predicted – declaring  a Trump domino effect across the globe electing fascist, anti-Islamic parties in Austria, the Netherlands and France, countries that all had elections after Trump squeaked into the Presidency in the November US election.

In fact the Trump EFFECT has turned out to be the Trump DEFECT.

Voters have shunned extremism in those three countries, the way Ontario has shunned the post-Mike Harris Conservatives over the course the last four elections over 15 years.

Those three European nations, seeing what havoc and damage Trump is doing to the US opted to vote for centrists parties instead of loonytoon, far right weirdos like him.

A word of advice, based on my experience and Ontario’s experience with pre-Trump Trumpster Mike Harris — Trump drain thyself.

Republicans pay attention. Act now or destroy your own party.

As the typing exercise invented by typing instructor Charles Weller in 1918 puts it —

“Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party. “

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party

Listen to my homage to Edwin Starr’s classic  “War” … I called it “Trump!”

What is he good for! Absolutely Nothing…Say it again.

Edwin Starr was talking about the Vietnam War and how it was destroying the US of the 1960s and the 1970s.

I’d say Trump is doing the same, destroying his country from within, while Putin and the Russians are attempting to destroy the US from outside, as former Obama NSA advisor James Clapper said earlier this week.

I say Trump! What is he good for? Absolutely Nothing! Say it again.

And neither was Mike Harris for Ontario.

Almost 20 years later his party is paying the price for Harris troubled regime.

Religious Leaders and the United Nations Need Set Up a Truth and Reconciliation Process to End the Insane War Between the West and the Middle East Nations and Jihadis.

We pay a lot of lip service to the importance of the truth. The Gospel of John states the truth will set you free. Yet century after century the west refuses to accept its role as the villains in the whole middle east, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan debacle.

Until we accept the truth that we are the cause of the bloodshed in that part of the world the deaths and suffering will go on forever. As Al Capp the cartoonist once wrote during the Vietnam war “I have seen the enemy and the enemy is us.”

Courtesy of www.dailymail.co.uk map of Iraqi-Syria battleground

Courtesy of http://www.dailymail.co.uk map of Iraqi-Syria battleground

In my studies of British and Western Imperialism back in my university days in the 1970s it became clear that profit absorbed imperialists began as early as the 15th century with rise of the modern nation-state to fan out and stake out territories far, far from home in order to exploit its resources, its people and its wealth. In the process they set up exploitative and oppressive regimes from North Africa, the Middle East, India to Hong Kong. From China to the Cape of Good Hope, Central Africa, Western Africa; from Egypt to Morocco, From Mexico to Panama to Cuba, Colombia, to Argentina to Ireland, to Peru and Brazil, Chile and the Pacific Ocean Islands.

In a sense the pre-modern nation-state era of the Crusades and indeed the Roman and Hellenistic Empires dating to Before Christ were also exercises in imperialism. Maybe that is where the roots of our current embracing of imperialism in 2015 has its origins.

From those early days through the mercantile early Post Columbus empires of the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries grew the hyper nationalistic, jingoistic 19th century imperialism that was enhanced by new speedier more impregnable warships the dreadnoughts that ramped up the arms race and competition for colonies as we entered a race for ever more resources such as oil and minerals to feed the increasingly mechanized western nations. The middle east was front and centre of our western imperialistic tendencies. World War 1 and its aftermath let to protectorates and mandates divided up between Britain and France and those imperialist moves further muddled the middle east in the 1920s and 1930s.

In the horrific aftermath of WWII,the bloodiest war among battling imperialisms The Allies vs. the Axis we saw hopeful signs that the old destructive ways were collapsing in the 1945-1975 era. Finally after two centuries of exploitation Britain withdrew from India and Pakistan and Africa. The French imperialist outposts were being liberated too though some were bloody awful carnage like Algeria and Vietnam. Other soon to be liberated countries, the Belgian Congo and Zimbabwe also went through bloody wars of liberation and retribution.

South Africa under the skillful and leadership of the inspiring Nelson Mandela was able to avoid the blood excesses of post colonial nations by holding a truth and reconciliation process that enabled South Africans to speak the truth about horrors on both sides and reconcile the nation.

We thought imperialism had been vanquished to the scrap-heap of history…but not so fast.. a sharp right-wing militaristic agenda swept into power under the likes of Margaret Thatcher, the baby milk snatcher in Britain and Ronald “We are Ready to Bomb Moscow” Reagan in the U.S., followed by the idiotic President George W. Bush.

The collapse of the old Soviet Union has given a sharp rise to a renaissance of Western Imperialism focused on Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Syria,

The ill-considered and disgraceful Al Qaeda attack on New York’s Twin Towers gave the US and the west the cover to re-institute hardcore imperialism worst than what was seen in the jingoistic period leading up to WWI and WW2.

Two wrongs never lead to anything more than a proliferation of wrongs on all sides of the combatants. The wrong of the attack on the Twin Towers keeps on spawning wrong-headed action that has resulted in two fronted wars for the U.S. for the last 15 years in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The old imperialism never really left…it just has manifested itself now into a battle between the civilized west, which apparently can still consume tonnes of Kentucky Fried Chicken, despite sickening bombing raids over those countries that have killed 10s of thousand if not more innocent civilians. And yet we recoil in horror when the evening news carries a story about a single American, Westerner, Japanese citizen being beheaded.

I am not justifying either butchery…but lets be fair and see western butchery for what it is. What we have in play is a kick me I’ll kick you…gauge my eyes…I will gouge your eyes mentality between the west and the jihadis.

Personally I believe our religious leaders of all stripes need to convene a global truth and reconciliation processes where the sins both sides of the latest imperialistic battles are being fought..the west and the jihadist both need to confess their sins and wrongdoings and move to reconciliation.

Perhaps Reverend Desmond Tutu of South African can get the ball rolling. Maybe Pope Francis I with all his enthusiasm for doing the right thing is the man. Maybe there is an Imam or Rabbi who might stand up and take the lead in getting a Truth and Reconciliation Committee set up…maybe the United Nations.

Religious institutions still have not fully recovered from the shame and stain of sitting idle and doing nothing when the Allies and the Nazis were destroying civilization among them…The Pope sat on his rosary and dithered… the Lutherans cowed into fear or admiration of Hitler did nothing. The Anglicans, the Orthodox did nothing. Exceptions of gallantry of course can be found.

My point is can religious leaders afford to again sit around and let the slaughter continue like their predecessors did it WW2?

Get up off your ass and set up a Truth and Reconciliation Process now…bringing all parties together to end the insane war between the West and the Jihadis.

It was refreshing to listen to Professor Paul Rogers from Bradford University describe the battle 40 year war in Iraq-Afghanistan-Syria- Libya as the latest manifestation of western imperialism…what purpose do western nation have being so far from their borders? Western nations will never be perceived as liberators as Professor Rogers eloquently states on CBC’s Sunday Edition with Michael Enright. Yes you may have enclaves of local war lords using the west for armaments but as was seen after the Soviet Defeat in Afghanistan..the US was as despised or more than the Soviets…it is an endless war that the west seems bent on fighting for ever…because war is profitable.

Here is Professor Rogers interview with Michael Enright http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thesundayedition/valentina-tso-the-myth-of-military-intervention-online-namesake-writing-in-the-margins-being-responsible-1.3027812/does-military-intervention-in-the-middle-east-ever-work-1.3027866