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A visit to the Cawthra Bush
by the
Leader of the Green Party of Ontario
Nov. 10 / 2001

Green Party - Frank & I
Frank de Jong the Leader of the Green Party of Ontario, on the right.
Donald Barber President of the FCB & Chair of the CRRA, on the left.

This was Mr. de Jong's second visit to the Cawthra Bush in 2001 since it became of interest to the Green Party of Ontario.

The letter Mr. de Jong wrote about his visit.

The Letter I wrote to the City about his visit.

How the Green Party Became Involved.

     In 2000 the Green Party ran a candidate in the federal election, Pamela Murray.  She attended an all candidates debate (Municipal & Federal), held by the CRRA, Nov. 7, at St. Dominic's school.  At this meeting a display regarding the Cawthra Woods was set up and  Ms. Murray was interested in both the environmental and political issues.

    The Green Party of Ontario supports green economics, progressive social planning, and begins with the basic premise that all life on the planet is interconnected and that humans have a responsibility to protect and preserve the natural world.  Also of great concern was the fact the City of Mississauga was denying all access to City records by way of official FOI requests.

     The Mississauga South Green Party received a formal request, dated May 13/01, to be involved in investigating the City of Mississauga's activities regarding the Jefferson Salamanders in the Cawthra Woods.  As the Green Party is very interested in the environmental issues and gaining public support in the Mississauga South riding/community by carrying out its mandate to protect important natural features, as well as promoting democracy by empowering voters with the facts.  The Green Party began to investigate the facts.

    The Green Party has reviewed and is impressed by the support of many individuals in the academic community and institutions, such as the University of Toronto, the University of Guelph, the Toronto Zoo, Canadian Amphibian and Reptile Conservation and Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Biology - Royal Ontario Museum, in regards to the saving the Cawthra Woods and the Jefferson Salamanders.

     The Green Party was informed that the City of Mississauga was again removing the habitat of the Jefferson Salamander, a Federally declared threatened species, around the end of July.  Adding even greater reason to use the FOI Act to investigate City actions.  There are also safety issues regarding the Walled Garden that needed to be addressed and the degree of public involvement in deciding the future of what is a rare piece of built heritage.  A English style kitchen Walled Garden.  Communications between the FCB & CRRA and the Green Party were in the vein of a political party trying to improve its standing in the community by helping community groups and therefore appropriate.

    The riding of Mississauga south/community regards the FCB & CRRA as a community resource and so does the Green Party.  Time was a factor in discovering the facts and moving to save a threatened species.  Mr. Barber has also supplied the Green Party with a report about "Assessing the benefits and costs of the urban forest", which supplies many scientific reasons to have large stands of trees in urban areas, which includes health reasons.

     It should be noted the City didn't contact the Green Party regarding its Freedom od Information (FOI), requests to clarify any opinion the City had about Green Party requests.  In fact, a list of questions directed to Ms. LeFeuvre, the City's FOI Co-ordinator,  regarding her decision to deny access.  It went unanswered.  It is a common legal acceptable practice for lawyers to represent the interests of a person/group accused or even convicted and not be accused with the same offenses (or tarred with the same brush as the expression goes), as the person they are associating with.  None the less, the City did so to the Green Party, to make sure no one could advocate on behalf of the taxpayers and residents of Mississauga south and to make sure no on found out the facts about what it was doing.

    Mississaugans are grateful for the Green Party's efforts, they show us all the how far the City and its politicians will go to deny us our democratic right to know the facts, to make decisions based on the facts by denying everyone lawful access to City records.  Which, by the way, were paid for with Mississaugans tax dollars.  Clearly, the City is hiding what it dare not make public, the truth!

More about the Green Party's FOI request.

One of the pictures taken that day but process of blowing them up, does make them grainy.  Other picture can be seen at the top of this page.

More pictures of Pileated Woodpeckers and Wood duck.

Scanned copy of Mr. de Jong's letter to the editor, if there are errors,
please e-mail me with corrections.

Published by the Toronto Sun Dec. 3/01 and the Mississauga News
Dec. 5/01.

Dear Editor,

Anyone wanting to see some of the best wilderness in the greater Toronto area needs only to visit the beautiful Cawthra Bush situated on Cawthra Rd. just north of Lakeshore Road.  Last week I received a marvelous tour there by a member of the Friends of the Cawthra Bush.

Along with the peace and tranquility of wandering in a natural setting, we were treated to an extended sighting of a Pileated woodpecker and several downy woodpeckers.  The Pileated woodpecker is the largest of the woodpeckers, bigger than a crow, and sports bright red feathers.  The Pileated is important to Ontario forest habitat because it chips large rectangular holes in trees while looking for insects and grubs, and these holes provide homes for other cavity-dwelling species, like the Wood duck,  which have also been seen at the Bush.

During my walk I learned that the bush is also one of the 12 remaining breeding places in Canada of the Jefferson salamander, a federally threatened species (One of the other 12 localities in Canada will soon be bulldozed to extend Bay View Street in Toronto.)

As well as being a nature preserve -- part of it a never-been-logged old-growth forest -- the bush also contains an important historical feature.   It contains an elegant English-style kitchen garden called a "Walled Garden", one of the very few ever build in Canada.  It was very disturbing to hear that the City of Mississauga has begun knocking it down without considering its historical value, and that the public is being denied a say on its future.  I say this because at the moment I'm being denied a Request for Information by the city for records about how the city came to believe that the walled garden should be mostly knocked down.  As well as its historical value, the walled garden provides a micro-climate which is conducive to the habitat needs of this rare salamander as well as other wildlife, and it's destruction would not aid the survival of this species.

Frank de Jong, leader, Green Party of Ontario
(There were small editing changes made by the newspapers and the Sun added a comment line - Sure sounds like something worth preserving)

Green Party of Ontario, 416-929-2397
Office: 244 Gerrard Street East, Toronto, M5A 2G2,


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