02:41:03 am on
Tuesday 16 Jul 2024

Charm Offensive
David Simmonds

Did you see that photograph of the big gold statue of Chairman Mao that they erected in rural China? Here one minute, but gone the next, after the public reaction to it was less than fulsome. Then there’s the news that the proposed ‘Mother Canada’ monument, planned for Cape Breton Highlands National Park, is going through a re-evaluation. The news was the proposed monument, to the victims of communism, shifted off centre stage in the nation’s capital. Overall, there seems to be an opening out there in monument land, which got me to thinking about wind turbines.

Before you groan and leave for another website, hey, I could be writing about water rates, let me say that I have just one simple idea to put across; then I’ll shut up. I should also declare my personal view that to make a massive investment in turbines in the County doesn’t make much sense.

A war of conservationists against green doesn't work.

It also doesn’t make much sense to have a continually escalating war between the forces of ‘conservation’ and the forces of ‘green energy.’ Yet the war is escalating. The latest court application, challenging the issuance of a renewable energy permit to the “White Pines” project, is a frontal assault on the Green Energy Act. Who’s to say what decisions the “Gilead” and “White Pines” environmental review tribunals will make and whether those decisions will end up in court.

My suggestion is to get right to it by adding an initiative on a different front. Call it a charm offensive, a monumental charm offensive. Let’s honour those who are intent on bringing wind turbines to the County, by erecting a monument to them.

The suggestion has a sort of reverse psychological premise. Politicians like it that we remember them as being bold, decisive visionaries that took controversial stands, but who, time showed, to be right. On the other hand, if there is one thing politicians don’t like, it is for use to remember them as bold, decisive visionaries who took controversial stands, but who, timed showed, to have been bone-headedly wrong. So let’s erect a monument to Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne, now, so that history will not have to look very hard or very far to know which side our political leaders took. At the least, it might make them squirm a little and ask themselves whether the imposition of turbines on an unwilling host population; with all their economic, technological and environmental drawbacks, was the decision they want us to remember them.

The statue, for this movement, could have two heads stuck in the closes, feet buried in clay.

Every monument has to have a theme, a location and a plaque to explain it to the public. As to the monument’s theme, we would of course strike a blue ribbon committee and entertain design suggestions from a host of people. It could be a statue, say, of two figures with their heads in the clouds and feet of clay. It could be a conceptual piece, like a massive boot squashing a hapless Blanding’s turtle. It could be whimsical, perhaps a razor-edged whirligig.

However appropriate it might otherwise be, a big gold statue in the style of the hastily removed tribute to Chairman Mao would be too derivative to make the cut. Nor does a tribute to the victims of liberalism do liberalism any justice. A statue of our heroes cast as Ma and Pa Ontario might have some sort of resonance.

Selection of the location, of the monument, would depend on where the most people would see it. Perhaps near the entrance to Sandbanks Provincial Park or across Picton Main Street from Sir John A. might work. I wouldn’t count on being able to use provincial land.

After the unveiling, a good turkey would be had.

As far as the plaque is concerned, I have in mind it would say something like this: “This monument honours two stalwart people. Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty persuaded, as he was, of the rightness of his vision to make Ontario a renewable energy powerhouse, regardless of the cost; he enacted a statute called the Green Energy Act to ensure that nobody who opposed the erection of renewable energy projects on his government’s terms could allow the dream to die. His successor Kathleen Wynne saw to it that his dream did not die, even though a fainter heart and a more malleable mind might have caused her to re-examine the assumptions of the Green Energy Act. The turbines erected here in the County are their legacy.”

When the monument is ready for unveiling, we would have to invite the two subjects to a slap-up dinner, appropriately themed. A turkey dinner, with all the trimmings, is a good idea. Everybody might get a save your fork for two kinds of pie dessert. The meal would start with a mock turtle soup and end with Turtle’s chocolates and coffee? I doubt either politician would accept the invitations, but, at the same time, I don’t think people here in the County would take monumental offence. As long as the monument went up, in any event.


Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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