Temagami Stewardship Council
To preserve, protect, restore and improve, the natural resources and environment of Lake Temagami & Cross Lake !
TSC News
Why I Continue to Chew on MNR’s Ass

I’d like to explain in plain words why I am committed to chewing on the ass of the MNR. As
Chairman of the Temagami Stewardship Council we were involved in an amicable, productive partnership with the MNR, North Bay for some13 years. As a Fisheries Advisory Board, Focus Group and a Stewardship we had accomplished a plethora of studies, activities and projects all designed to do the best for the natural resources of Temagami. (see www.temagamistewardship.ca under TSC Info)
When we moved into membership in the Ontario Stewardship Program my directors and I saw the
MNR support as an opportunity to do more to preserve, protect, restore and improve the natural resources of the Temagami area. After all, we signed on to a program in which the MNR promised that, “This innovative program is supported - not controlled by the OMNR”. That may be the biggest reason for my angst. My directors and I trusted the MNR at its word. It later became obvious that the MNR had decided to change both the Temagami and the Lake Nipissing Stewardships to North Bay, MNR’s concept of what a Stewardship in Northern Ontario should be before the ink was dry on our respective stewardship agreements.

Not understanding Stewardship the antiquated and inept administration of the MNR in North Bay
sought to change the stewardships on Lake Nipissing and Temagami to the model used in southern
Ontario. Southern Ontario is largely private land (farms and small forest) with large populations to
provide unlimited volunteer support. Northern Ontario is mostly crown land (lakes, forests) with small populations of already overworked volunteers. The Lake Nipissing and the Temagami Councils had both demonstrated extremely successful models of what stewardship could accomplish in Northern Ontario.
However, being successful or providing a successful model didn’t matter…we had to conform to the
Southern model so we had to change. Both Councils objected. Lake Nipissing’s executive eventually gave up the fight and quit. In Temagami we soldiered on for a few more years.

When you object to how you have been treated by the MNR you soon learn that there is no
ACCOUNTABILITY. MNR North Bay just walked away and ignored us. We could continue as we had before Ontario Stewardship but without MNR involvement: no funding, no coordinator and no MNR biologist attending our meetings. We asked for a meeting with the Minister at the time Donna Cansfield, to plead our case. We traveled to Toronto in a February blizzard to find that the Minister had declined to attend. The MNR representative who had called the meeting did not attend. The executive assistants to the Minister and deputy minister who did attend had not bothered to reference material on the Temagami Stewardship sent to them 2 weeks before the meeting so that they knew nothing about the TSC or our issue. We were provided with 2 hours of their time to voice our concerns and then the meeting was over.
The executive assistant of the Minister actually had the gall as a parting shot to say that “We can not be expected to fund every little stream stewardship.” The Temagami Stewardship was at the time looking after the Municipality of Temagami an area of some 2500 sq km.

We also took our case to the Ombudsman, Andre Marin. The mission statement on the
Ombudsman’s web page states his office, “ Bears the responsibility of investigating complaints against provincial government organizations.” Our applications never got past the bureaucrats surrounding the Ombudsman. They were impressed that we had a meeting with the new Minister and also told us we could submit a new funding proposal to the Ontario Stewardship Program. No such proposal was ever offered to us. The Ombudsman’s office only interviewed MNR executives paying no attention to the list of local credible persons that might have confirmed our allegations. They decided we didn’t have a case.
We appealed but to no avail.

Since the TSC folded in the fall of 2008 I have had the opportunity to meet and correspond with a
long list of citizens of Ontario who share a litany of similar bad experiences with the MNR. No
accountability is a familiar complaint on issues from fishery management, to land use planning, crown land access to allegations of conflict of interest by MNR employees using crown land for hunt camps. Now a bimbo of a minister who not only does not understand natural resources but doesn’t even take the time to educate herself so that she can respond to questions about issues concerning her ministry in the Ontario legislature. This Liberal government attributes no value to our natural resources other than pocketing the revenue provided and obviously has no desire to right a ship that is sadly in need of change.

Gaye Smith

TSC News