The great Greek philosopher Plato, many of whose core values were further entrenched in our culture by the martyred Christian apologist Justin Martyr, had a vision of a civilization being ruled by a philosopher king. In ancient Greek this is called philosophocracy, meaning: rule by philosophers. The clerical dress of today was adopted by Justin from the habits of the philosophers of the Roman Empire in the second century.
In terms of a powerful ruler, the closest we have in Niagara, ON, to such an exalted position of a potential philosopher King is the Chair of the Niagara Regional Council, Alan Caslin. As is appropriate to his position, secured by the votes of elected mayors and regional councilors, Caslin frequently writes letters to the Premier of Ontario. Tragically however, on January 20, 2017 Chairman Caslin wrote a letter to Premier Wynne which revealed that Niagara is governed what the ancients called idiocracy.
There are some 169 forms of government that have been identified using ancient Greek concepts. In his letter to the Premier, Caslin revealed the peculiar form of government that rules the Niagara Region. His words reveal it as idiocracy, which means: rule by the selfish.
Although the word idiot has its roots in both the Greek and Latin words, iodides, it is quite distinctive from that of the term “fool”. Iodides is expressive of rule by narrow self-interest.
The problem of idiocracy is especially dangerous today when we are faced with major threats to human civilization. These come from the related loss of the bio-diversity of our planet, which has evolved over millions of years, and the threat to the stability of our climate. One of the few effective instruments we have in Ontario to cope with these threats are current laws to protect what are termed provincially significant wetlands. These serve as an important carbon sink, moderating climate change. They also protect the habitats of rare wildlife species.
The Thundering Waters Forest contains an array of Species at Risk that are a challenge to innumerate. They include: the Black Gum, Snapping Turtle, three species of bats, the Monarch Butterfly, the Wood Thrush, the Nine Lined Lady Beetle, the Eastern Wood Pewee, the Barn Swallow, Acadian Flycatcher and Chimney Swift. It has rare ecological communities of Buttonbush and Rufous Bullrush. The forest contains vernal pools that provide necessary breeding habitat for the Blue Spotted Salamander, and the Wood, Chorus and Grey Tree frogs.
In his plea to the Premier, Caslin revealed how Niagara is in the iron rule of idiocracy. He gave the Premier an unholy litany of complaints of why current wetland protections on the 500 acre Thundering Waters Forest, which protects the habitat of threatened species, should be removed. He urges this be done because of “the ongoing policy conflict between the designated Gateway Economic Zone and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s wetland evaluation and mapping.”
In his plea to the Premier Caslin did not offer a single scientific challenge to the current mapping of protected wetlands in Thundering Waters Forest. What was complained about had nothing to do with science. It had all to do with the pursuit of a foreign bank.
Caslin complained that the wetland mapping threatened the Niagara Region’s work to “establish a business case for establishing a branch of the Bank of China (Canada)…within Niagara.” He also claimed that it put at risk efforts, “to create a welcoming climate for … significant investment in the tourism capital of Ontario.”
Caslin’s polemic cited a tourism study by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, which I subsequently viewed on the website of the Niagara Regional Chamber of Commerce. Bizarrely, its actual contents, not referenced by Caslin’s synopsis revealed why Canada, Ontario and Niagara are all falling behind in the international tourism race. In contrast to this bleak local situation, the study contrasted the vivid explosion in international tourism in New Zealand.
Why tourism is exploding in New Zealand is because of a zeal to celebrate the very magnificence of old growth forests which are imperiled by the Thundering Waters development. Tourism is booming in what is being promoted as “middle-earth” because visitors are increasingly drawn by the stunning landscapes that are displayed a major movie pictures such as the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogies.
Caslin’s words reveal why the province should reaffirm rather than gut its wetland protection policy. Niagara needs to escape from the rule of idiocracy. Rather than destroying our wetlands to get a branch established in Niagara of the Bank of China (Canada), we need to revive our tourist industry through a celebration and protection of our forests and wetlands.
Niagara can be liberated from the idiocracy of our current political cliques. Those who write to denounce tyranny of idiocracy can free us from a most absurd tyranny.