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- September 24, 2019 - Letter to the new CEO of Parks Canada, Ron Hallman
This letter is another attempt to see heritage restored to the Rideau Canal. I am an optimist and hope that Mr. Hallman's appointment signals a return to Parks Canada core values and their legislated responsibilities, something we haven't had on the Rideau Canal since the re-organization in 2012 (the creation of Ontario Waterways) which stripped the Rideau Canal of its Superintendent and removed the capacity and willingness to meet its commemorative integrity requirements (and UNESCO World Heritage requirements). I normally get blow off replies that do not address the issues I've raised (see below), but I live in hope that I actually might get a considered reply that directly addresses the issues I've raised. We will see.
January 9, 2020 update: It took over 3 months to get a disappointing reply which does not address many of the issues I raised and provides misinformation for others. As expected, it's a self serving reply clearly written by Ontario Waterways and not by Mr. Hallman's office, but Mr. Hallman did sign it. It's just another piece of evidence that Parks Canada has abandoned its heritage mandate for the Rideau Canal. Very disappointing that Mr. Hallman apparently has no interest in the heritage presentation of the National Historic Sites under his administration, a legislated mandate of Parks Canada. You can read the reply here: Reply from Ron Hallman.
- December 7, 2018 - Blow off reply from Ms. Veinotte
- October 26, 2018 - Letter to the the new Executive Director of Waterways (Ontario & Québec), Pam Veinotte
- May 27, 2018 - Letter to the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change (no reply from the Minister)
- May 31, 2018 - Letter to the Daniel Watson, Chief Executive Officer of Parks Canada (no reply from the CEO)
- June 21, 2018 - Director Jewel Cunningham's reply to my May 27 letter to the Minister
- June 26, 2018 - Letter to Minister McKenna in response to Director Cunningham's letter (no reply from the Minister)
- August 2, 2018 Director Jewel Cunningham's August 2 reply to my June 26 letter to the Minister
- October 26, 2018 - Letter to the new Executive Director of Waterways, Pam Veinotte
- December 7, 2018 - Reply from Executive Director Veinotte
These letters were written in response to the Minister's report (public release in May 2018) on the Let's Talk Parks Canada! consultations. In that report, which is essentially a mandate letter to Parks Canada, she directs Parks Canada to change their present focus and to return to their legislated responsibilities, which for National Historic Sites such as the Rideau Canal, includes commemorative integrity, particularly the public education component of commemorative integrity.
Two things are apparent - the Minister (and her office) does not reply to letters written about problems with Parks Canada. Replies from Parks Canada indicate that they don't plan to change (and we continue to see examples on the Rideau where revenue generation trumps heritage). Those letters are full of misdirection and untruths. Although not unexpected, it is very disappointing to see how far what used to be a wonderful Canadian institution, Parks Canada, has fallen.
It's a bit of a frustrating experience writing to the Government of Canada about problems with Parks Canada's administration of the Rideau Canal since it is Parks Canada itself that writes the replies. You can read my letter to Minister McKenna and the blow off letters I received from Parks Canada - very (very) disappointing. There was a Liberal promise during the election to restore the damage done by the 2012 cuts to Parks Canada - that has yet to happen for the Rideau Canal. There is a bit of light now with the Minister's new directives to Parks Canada as a result of the January 2017, Let's Talk Parks Canada! consultations. Parks Canada has yet (Dec. 2018) to do anything about it on the Rideau.
Whether your concern is about crumbling infrastructure on the Rideau Canal, lack of heritage support for the Rideau Canal, or loss of wildlife habitat due to improper development, you should make your voice known to those in charge. You find a list of email contacts on this page.
If you've read through this website, you'll see that it's not a new problem, the cuts have only exacerbated an existing problem of lack of support for the heritage of the Rideau Canal. As noted on this website, there are lots of issues, not simply the recent cuts, to chose from.
It was the Government of Canada and former Prime Minister Stephen Harper who were responsible for the cuts to the Rideau Canal. They made a decision to cut support for Canadian heritage while at the same time increasing spending in other areas. It's not a question of money, it's a question of priorities. I'm sure you can come up with dozens of ways that the government is inappropriately spending money other than the modest amount required for the Rideau Canal.
Parks Canada is an agency under Environment Canada. The minister for that department, Catherine McKenna, can mandate that Parks Canada better support the Rideau Canal (to be updated after the 2019 federal election). That finally happened in May 2018 in her response to the Let's Talk Parks Canada consultations and more recently (August 2019) with the release of the report from the Minister's Working Group regarding the problems with Parks Canada. Time will now tell if Parks Canada actually changes their focus back to heritage and ecology on the Rideau Canal - that's yet to happen.
Even if you are writing to Parks Canada it is always best to copy your correspondence to the PM, The Minister of Environment and Climate Change (Steven Guilbeault) and local MPs. Here are a few to get you started:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: firstname.lastname@example.org
Minister of Environment, Steven Guilbeault: email@example.com
You can find the address of your local MP here:
PARKS CANADA CONTACTS
When you write to Parks Canada, be sure to cc a few politicians (see above):
The CEO, Ron Hallman is the one ultimately in charge of providing resourcing for the Rideau Canal. Issues relating to the lack of heritage protection and presentation and environmental protection, are due to decisions made by Ron Hallman and his predecessors (Daniel Watson and Alan Latourelle - particularly Latourelle). For the most part, these are not budget decisions, they are resource allocation decisions. Parks Canada does in fact have the resources, they simply choose to allocate them to different things (OTentiks, lots of "communication" people, etc.).
Hallman also does not foster a corporate culture that makes heritage and environmental protection and presentation top priorities. The present corporate culture, certainly on the Rideau Canal, is focussed on visitor numbers and revenue generation, not on Parks Canada's legislated mandates.
If you would like to write a real letter and mail it, the following addresses can be used. Letters to top management can be sent to the Parks Canada Agency address, letters to Ontario Waterways can be sent to the Rideau Canal Office address and letters to the PM and MPs can be sent (no stamp required) to the House of Commons address.
|Parks Canada Agency
30 Victoria Street
Gatineau, QC J8X 0B3
||Rideau Canal Office
34 Beckwith Street South
Smiths Falls, ON K7A 2A8
||House of Commons|
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
SAVE OUR RIDEAU POSTER
||I've created a poster than can be printed at home or at work. Feel free to post it anywhere you think this issue needs attention. Please post it respectfully (and legally) - use public bulletin boards and such. Simply download the poster and print it (320K PDF)
October 31, 2016 - Letter to George Green, Vice-President, Indigenous Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Parks Canada
February 2, 2017 - Reply from George Green
Letter to the Hon. Catherine McKenna - November 10, 2015 (PDF)
Response to letter: Unfortunately a bit of a blow-off reply - Letter from Hon. Catherine McKenna - May 9, 2016
Letter to the Hon. Peter Kent - July 6, 2012 (PDF)
Responses to letter:
- July 9 - 7:30 am - email acknowledgement of receipt from Gord Brown's office
- July 9 - 1:18 pm - email acknowledgement of receipt from the Prime Minister's Office noting that my comments "will receive due consideration from the Minister" [Peter Kent]
- January 29, 2013, 1:24 pm - I waited 207 days, 3 hours and 35 minutes to receive a form letter reply (via PDF attachment in a blank email) from Minister Kent that didn't address any of the issues raised in my letter (which, given their reply, they clearly never read). See the Word Cloud analysis below. Given the PMO's comment that my letter "will receive due consideration from the Minister" and the resulting form letter that didn't address any of the heritage issues clearly means that the Government of Canada, and certainly Minister Kent, do not care about the Rideau Canal. It's a shame. Read the reply and judge for yourself.
Letter to Gord Brown, MP in response to a July 10, 2012 press release. The press release is included with the letter. (PDF)
Word Cloud Analysis
|Letter to Minister of Environment
||Letter from Minister of Environment
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