I’ve been reminded more than once about a speech I gave five years ago in Nova Scotia to that province’s federation of agriculture annual meeting.
The theme concerned rural Canada being steamrolled by urban-centric governments with their environmental and animal rights agendas. A timid sort of a man — a farm leader — stepped up to the floor mike and asked how rural Canada, you know, bridged that gap, to make the consumer understand.
Rural Canada’s best effort merely revealed weakness, by forming organizations “to get the message out” while accepting government funding. But who is going to bite the hand that feeds it? Everyone wants to keep his job so everyone just squeaks loud enough “to get the message out” but soft enough that feathers aren’t ruffled.
Message out. Job done. In reality, all this explaining, grovelling and spinning about the importance of farmers has had zero effect in stopping the onslaught. “It’s simple,” I told the farm leader from the podium. “If they’re not scared of you, they’ll run right over you.”
The answer shocked the comfortably polite in the room and there were many.
Interesting that more than one modern-day philosopher has noted that the most important virtue lacking in today’s culture is courage.
Here’s a tale of courage and a little craziness and what it can do for you. There was a recent provincial announcement of where new wind turbines will be constructed. The untold, and important story, is where they are not.
They are not being constructed in North Glengarry, home to off-the-charts tough guy Chris McDonell, who was once a cop and is now a local legend.
Other cops talk of Chris chasing a native back to the reservation, south of Cornwall. Both cars screeched into the parking lot of a reservation bar.
“You’re going to get it now,” the native told Chris. “Not before I get you,” said Chris, who cranked him a few good ones before a mob of young men spilled out the bar door. When his fellow cops got to Chris he was under the cop car with all his fingers broken.
Chris was of McDonell and MacLeod stock and the stories told of the Dalhousie bar fights of the Glen Nevis MacLeods would curl your ears.
So it was to Chris’s municipality that a Green Energy company entourage arrived with smooth talk and nice ties. They knew the mayor of North Glengarry as an aging Scotsman but had no idea they were talking to the legend.
When the slick salesmen and saleswoman went to the podium at Chris’ council meeting to give their tag team, polished performance, they couldn’t have known the Glengarry tales. But I was there as a reporter and noticed they soon got that same look of dread in their eyes, that same look one saw on some mouthy Quebecois around midnight down at Dalhousie, after they stirred the wrath of these Glen Nevis Scots.
There were no threats from Chris, just that look. And a comment on how they had to shut down the dam at Cornwall regularly, because there was too much power. So why in the hell did we need this green energy crap just to jack the people’s Hydro bills?
One of the paid smoothies, there to provide local lobbying expertise, was a former mayor from the next county.
Chris had called in some tough looking farmers to sit on all sides of the green energy entourage and the former mayor to get the right message out. One of them turned to the former mayor and gave him a tongue lashing. “You’re a bleepity-bleepity bleep.”
It was so naughty a phrase it was memorable and still makes me laugh.
“You, you can’t talk to me like that,” sputtered the former mayor. “I just did,” replied Chris’ farmer friend.
The green energy entourage were out of there like cats out of a doghouse. Never to return.
The province also didn’t announce projects for another area: the Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox & Addington riding of Progressive Conservative MPP Randy Hillier.
Hillier, the former Ontario Landowners Association president, shut down highways with tractors and pickup trucks, closed down an MNR office with hay bales and ended a Canadian Food Inspection Agency raid by blocking their only exit from a farm with a tractor.
You don’t want to cross courageous guys like Chris and Randy because you just don’t know what they are going to do.
So, as I was saying, there were no green energy wind turbine projects announced in their backyards.
You get the point?