-by Curtis Healy

Out there on a strip of land created by the St. Lawrence, commonly called Grosse Isle, there are graves, names in a direct line, names of my grandfathers and grandmothers, of my mother and my father. They came here fleeing a natural disaster neglected by a government under an act of union that claimed they were citizen-subjects of the same country. The city of Montreal is about to pump untreated sewage into the waters that create this sacred ground, claiming that it will have dissipated before it can wash up and profane it. But from one section of the water to another, like the black rock screams, it is all connected; those who landed in Montreal, the 6000 dead the stone speaks for, buried their dead at the typhus quarantine on Grosse, before they made their way west, to join them in the pit.

Even if you don't take the page of ancestors or sacred, personal heritage grounds into the equation, have the people of this city, forgotten their own history, both local and national? Have they never heard of or simply forgotten their own struggle with cholera in the 1830s? or the past of a decade and a half in which E coli destroyed seven lives in Walkerton, Ontario? Have we learned nothing? Have we forgotten what we've already gone through so severely, that city councillors can petition the federal government, not in turning themselves in, not for useful actual help and planning, but the right to hide from their criminal negligence, the right to conduct the penultimate stage of its trajectory for the sake of saving their backward proving embarrassment, at the real cost of embarrassing the whole of Canada.

When sewage runoff from farms in the Ontario municipality of Brockton caused the poisoning and deaths of residence, it was not an intentional act. The occurrence pointed to the immaturity of the rural infrastructure to take its reality and necessary capability to keep its water system clean. What was criminal was the cover up, the corruption, the denial of what was going on once the cause was discovered, the claim that there was no knowledge of what was going on and how it had happened. People were brought to trial, bar doors were slammed. What was deemed criminal wasn't so much that this specific thing had happened, it was that it had been denied and allowed to deteriorate without actions in response that allowed it to happen, and that responsibility was denied. No one in Brockton acted with intent, it was a natural phenomenon, made possible by lack of afore-thought and taking the environment seriously. The crime was to align with that natural disaster and pretend like it was bigger than anything that could have been done to prevent it, and denying the problem had been identified when it was.

This, this is being done on purpose, and they're being told to go ahead.

The deterioration of Montreal's water treatment ability should not be excused, it should not be provided an approving warrant to wash its hands of its own vile neglect of its residents' lives, and now the risk it poses to all our lives. It should  not be given the grace to accept its excuses 'well we could have done, if only Ottawa'... No, it should be seen in keeping with a criminal act. It should be seen in even considering to contaminate water, from which the city gains the water it processes, that there's no knowledge of what they are doing in that metropolis. Their action recommended as a cure, like spiders after flies, is simply turning the river system into a menagerie of the city that has been irresponsibly governed. There shouldn't be concessions and unfortunate shrugs, there should be no, 'well what else, oh wells', there should be charges laid against incompetence, complacency, passing the buck, against criminal behaviour imperilling the rights of the ecosystem, from which our human rights stem and for which there is no division from source to reception. Heads should roll, not the unclogging of the mountain-made-toilet-bowl into the habitat of ducks, cottage goers, farmers and burial grounds. There should be no concessions of 'sure wash your hands like nothing happened to fix the problem you created by parallel examples of recklessness in the first place.'

This murderous deed, which became murder by the lack of will to do anything progressive to address the problem, before the desperate and panicked ideas of solutions in a rush, crying 'it's too late for anything else' just to save face, was caused by the attitude that doesn't connect the notion that they are polluting the very thing that composes the human beings which live beside it, depend upon it, to remain clean. The Constipation in the minds of those who manage Montreal does not give them the right to clog the water ways of a whole people group-  this behaviour is a national shame. A shame to the tune of Donald Creighton's 'Empire of the St. Lawrence':'The merchants looked upon the St. Lawrence as the great channel of imperial trade from America and Europe. The [people] looked upon the river and the lakes as the centre of a homeland with a life and importance of its own.'

When the first arrivals from Europe looked upon the cliffs of Quebec, it's said they exclaimed, 'La Fin Du Monde', The End of The World. Well in Montreal these days it certainly is, it's the end of Canada, and irredeemably so.




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