The results from Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists’ first ever municipal election candidates questionnaire are in!

Here are the responses from candidates for local office to a questionnaire submitted by the Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists.  We hope that it will help you sort through the numerous options when you place your vote.  

You may decide to just read the document for your own municipality, but they all make for interesting reading. 

Even though climate change and environmental issues are the most important challenge and crisis that we all face today, these issues often receive little attention in local election campaigns.  Tax rates, parking meters and harbour parking lots seem to hog all the limelight. 

We believe local governments need to join the fight against climate change and for the preservation of the environment.  Here’s a link to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities website page on climate change.  Their stat from this site: Greenhouse Gas emissions in Canada that municipalities have influence over – 50%) 

Since these issues are often ignored in other election forums we thought it would be helpful to submit a questionnaire to all local candidates on environmental issues so they could let us know where they stand.  

Here are the 5 questions we posed to all local candidates:

  1. Could you give an example or two from your personal or public life of something you have done in an effort to mitigate climate change and/or protect the environment?
  2. How high among the concerns of an elected Municipal Official would you place Climate Change mitigation? Could you briefly describe policies and actions you would like to see enacted for cutting greenhouse gas emissions in Tiny Township?
  3. Are you aware of and in support of The Simcoe County Municipal Comprehensive Review – DRAFT Climate Change Strategy of October 2021?  Would you support the recommendation of the Review: that municipalities should prepare standalone climate change action plans?
  4. Without protective policies our natural spaces will be under constant threat to urbanization.  Where do you stand on Greenbelt protection and its expansion to Simcoe County? Are you concerned with the increasing use of Provincial Minister’s Zoning Orders (MZOs) to circumvent municipal planning processes and environmental protections.
  5. Degradation of wetlands, quarrying for aggregate, air pollution, pollution of Lake Simcoe, Severn Sound and Georgian Bay, fragmentation of wildlife habitat, protection of endangered species, loss of biodiversity, control of invasive species are all significant problems.  Which of these issues is most urgent and which would you work on if elected?
Click on the links below to view answers from candidates in your municipality Midland Candidate Questionnaire from the MPFN Midland Penetanguishene Candidate Questionnaire from the MPFN Tay and Georgian Bay Township Candidate Questionnaire from the MPFN Tiny Candidate Questionnaire from the MPFN Tiny Township

We appreciate the time spent in composing their replies by all the candidates who responded.  As for those who didn’t – we can only assume that either

  1. a) You don’t read your emails (not a good practice for an aspiring council member) 
  2. b) Your spam filter is wound up way too tight 
  3. c) You have nothing to say on these important issues 


  1. d) You believe that saying as little as possible and not participating in candidate forums is the best way to get elected      (a tactic employed by the winning party in the last provincial election). 

There has been next to no response from members of Tay and Georgian Bay Township council where only one councillor position is not acclaimed.  It would seem that some acclaimed candidates see no need to participate in election forums. Despite being acclaimed to office we did receive responses from the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Tay and a response from the Mayor of Georgian Bay Township that he asked not be shared publicly. We appreciate and thank them for taking time to respond.

Our response rate from those running for election was about 77 %.  Not bad, although we find it a bit hard to understand why all candidates would not want to take this opportunity to speak directly to their electors. 

Again, we hope these surveys will help you make some important choices in the upcoming elections.  

Vote for Nature!

MPFN has Partnered with the
Canadian Coalition for Invasive Plant Regulation

Prevention is Key The increasing numbers of invasive plants entering Canada each year are having serious ecological and socio-economic consequences. Invasive non-native species spread quickly and the cost for their removal escalates over time making management nearly impossible. Preventing their introduction and establishment in our environment with legislation is the most logical and cost-effective course of action. Canada’s legislative framework on invasive plants is fragmented. Improved coordinated regulation is needed at the federal, provincial and territorial levels.
As Partners, we’ll help spread the word. Educate the public and political representatives about the need for better regulation of plants in the horticultural trade. We’ll proudly display our logo on the CCIPR website to show our support. We’re already developing plans to reach out to, not only club members but the general public and in particular, local elected officials, Stay tuned!


  • Development of a national risk assessment database that can be shared
  • Bans on the sale and movement of high-risk invasive plant species
  • Labelling to identify and educate the public about lower-risk invasive plants
  • Public education including alternatives to invasive plants
  • Adoption of the National Code of Conduct by the horticultural trades

MPFN has adopted a colony in the Cerro Pelon
Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary.
Inspired by Kate Harries’ recent presentation to our group on the Mexican butterfly reserves, the MPFN has adopted a colony in the Cerro Pelon Sanctuary.  This fundraising program is run by the Butterflies and Their People project, dedicated to not only preserving this marvelous insect but also improving the lives of the Mexican people who share the forest with them.  
Dr. Ellen Sharp, the project coordinator, will be sending us periodic updates on what’s going on at the colony.  Watch your email as. We’ll be sending links to future Adopt a Colony Issues to MPFN Members 

Ontario’s Conservation Authorities are at risk.

The provincial government recently tabled omnibus budget measures Bill 229, Schedule 6 of which proposes fundamental changes to the Conservation Authorities Act and to conservation authorities role in land use planning.

As currently proposed, the changes to the legislative framework will impede Ontario’s crucially important goal of building climate resilience for our communities. To the contrary, the package of amendments as proposed are likely to set back watershed planning and implementation of an ecosystem based approach by decades. CELA recommends that Schedule 6 be withdrawn in its entirety from Bill 229. CELA is co-hosting a webinar with Environmental Defence and Ontario Nature on Tuesday, November 17th at 7pm ET.  We encourage you to register and learn more about these alarming proposed changes, and the implications they could have for our communities. We have created an action alert page on our website that contains our preliminary analysis of Bill 229, and other resources about the value of Conservation Authorities.  Watch this page in the coming days for more information about how to protect our Conservation Authorities. Sincerely,

Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director

Open Letter Regarding Fall Harvest of Double-crested Cormorants “Fifty-one experts are calling on the Ontario minister of natural resources and forestry to provide a scientific explanation for a province-wide hunt on double-crested cormorants that is slated to begin within two weeks. In an open letter to John Yakabuski, dated on Tuesday, the experts raise concerns about the hunt, saying it is not based on science, the province has failed to indicate what population of cormorants it considers desirable and it will not require hunters to report the numbers of birds they have killed.” CBC News DCCO_OpenLetter
Contact Minister Yakabuski
Contact MPP Jill Dunlop
Contact MPP Doug Downey
Cormorant Cull Update
Provided by Kate Harries:
This is posted on a Facebook page called Protect the Cormorants of Big Rideau Lake
Interesting perspective from a fish biologist — Steven Cooke 
Dr. Cooke, renowned fishing expert who knows his stuff, has his say about the cormorants on the Big Rideau:
A Fishy Perspective on Cormorants
By Dr. Steven J. Cooke, Professor of Fish Ecology, Carleton University
“I started my day today fishing on Big Rideau. I was with my three kiddos and they wanted to fish near the island without any leaves on the trees that was covered in birds. They were referring to “The Owls” – a series of small islands surrounded by deeper water with one island that has been commandeered by the cormorants. We have fished in many places on Big Rideau but never around The Owls. We pulled up and started catching bass after bass from juveniles to almost trophy-sized fish. We landed 30 smallmouth in less than two hours.
During the fish catching, my kids loved watching the cormorants fly en masse and this led to some rich conversations about the role of birds in structuring aquatic systems. Cormorants are not the only fish-eating birds that like to forage on Big Rideau. Loons, osprey, merganser and kingfisher all rely on fish as their primary food source. There are no proposals to cull those species so what is different about cormorants?
As a biologist it is really tough to answer that question. Cormorants live in colonies so they may be more conspicuous that the other species. They also tend to eliminate vegetation from where they reside owing to the chemistry of their feces. It is worth noting that they tend to reside on islands that are tiny and tend to be devoid of human infrastructure aside from perhaps a navigation marker. As a fish biologist I remain perplexed by the vitriol towards these animals. The more we learn about bird-fish interactions the more we realize that birds play important roles in structuring fish communities.
Did you know that fish-eating birds tend to forage on fish that are sick and immunocompromised? Did you know that fish-eating birds help to balance fish populations? Did you know that most efforts to control predators fail and are done to try and appease vocal advocates for culling? If the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (or more likely their political handlers) think that cormorants are villains then we might as well go all in and start shooting osprey and loons.
Or… maybe we should look at our own actions. The reason we like to blame cormorants is because it is easy. The BIRDS are responsible for the state of our fisheries. The BIRDS are responsible for degraded aquatic ecosystems. The reality is that WE are the drivers of aquatic ecosystem health. From invasive species like zebra mussels and round goby to water pollution arising from agriculture and urbanization to overharvest, humans are both the CAUSE of our current environmental woes and also the SOLUTION.
Killing birds that eat fish is a lame attempt to temporarily divert attention from the tough work we all need to do… reducing OUR impact on the environment and allowing nature to rebuild and rebalance. I am a strong advocate for evidence to guide environmental decisions. In the case of a cormorant cull in Ontario, the evidence is lacking OR if it exists, it has not been shared publicly. Rather than shooting cormorants I plan to continue to marvel at how they make a living. My kiddos are in awe of these birds and are smart enough to know that IF there are too many cormorants, Mother Nature (i.e., ecological and evolutionary processes) will reduce cormorant populations without us having to pick up firearms.
I am an angler, hunter, scientist, and advocate for evidence-based decision making and I am utterly opposed to the cormorant cull.”
If you like this content, please like and follow this page (at the top of the main page) for future updates on the Big Rideau cormorants.

Regarding The Amendment to the Growth Plan to allow aggregate extraction in threatened and endangered species habitat in the Natural Heritage System of the Greater Golden Horseshoe
The MPFN recently signed on to a letter to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing organized by Ontario Nature regarding the proposed amendment to the Growth Plan to allow aggregate extraction in threatened and endangered species habitat in the Natural Heritage System of the Greater Golden Horseshoe.  That letter is attached to this message.  As a club and as a member of the Ontario Nature Nature Network we have some grave concerns about some of the actions being taken by the Provincial Government.  We encourage individual members to let their local MPPs know their feelings on these issues. 
Read the letter:

Wye Marsh is excited to announce that they will be re-opening the trail system in a limited capacity at 9:00 am on June 1, 2020 … But Needs Our Help During Difficult Times!
Wye Marsh staff have been working with Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) on a plan to safely reopen, which will be done in phases. During the first phase, from June 1 – 14, admission will be by donation in the parking lot as we build an outdoor admissions booth. Once the booth is constructed, reduced admission rates will apply until we are back up and running 100%. Access to washrooms will be available via the back doors, but otherwise the Center remains closed to the public. There is no access to the Birds of Prey Field during this time. Canoe tours and other programming will remain suspended at this time.
While on the trails, please keep the following in mind:
  • Be mindful of wildlife who have become accustomed to the trails and boardwalks being unused by humans. Please give them space and do not attempt to approach or feed them, especially on the boardwalk.
  • Please respect social distancing guidelines while on the trails, especially at intersections and narrow sections.
  • The gates will open daily at 9:00am and close at 4:00pm
Thank you to everyone for your ongoing support.

Ontario Nature Defends Conservation Authorities Ontario Nature, on behalf of itself & its affiliates has sent this letter to the Ontario Government defending the role of local conservation authorities in opposition to proposals made by the Ford administration. Read the letter. 

The Cleanest Water on Earth Remains Threatened by the Ontario Government’s Economic Expansion Policies
Please take a moment to watch the short video. If you find it as moving as I did please consider emailing our local MPP, Jill Dunlop and voice your strenuous opposition to this ill-considered assault on the cleanest water on the planet. Email Jill at:
Robert Codd
MPFN Website coordinator

MPFN member and President of the Matchedash Tiny Marl Conservation Association Kate Harries wants to share this excellent video from the Elmvale Foundation.  It tells you all about the unique water in our area that so many of us have fought hard to protect.  Here’s the link: 
And here’s a link to a Canadian Geographic article about the same issue. 
During this time of pandemic a lot of other issues seem to have been pushed into the background but the fight against new quarries and quarry expansion continues. For more information, copy and paste the link below into your browser:

214 King Street West, Suite 612 Toronto, Ontario M5H 3S6 Charitable registration# 10737 89

The Sounds of Silence

Ontario Nature
The COVID-19-related restrictions on gatherings and movement have been challenging for my family, but they have also had a beneficial effect on our soundscape. With fewer airline flights and vehicles on the road, and most workers conducting business from home, the sounds of industry have made way for the sounds of nature. I noticed the change in outdoor noise during a pre-dawn, physically distanced jog through my Toronto neighbourhood. Though always quieter at this time than later in the day, my neighbourhood is rarely still, and I can often hear the sounds of daily life while I jog. The subterranean rumble of subway trains gearing up for the morning rush; the drone of drivers embarking on their daily commutes; and the clamour emanating from nearby construction sites. Much of that commotion has been replaced by the melodic warbling of robins, cardinals and finches. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and my family and I had planned to celebrate by camping at Sandbanks Provincial Park to witness the spring bird migration. The pandemic and ensuing lockdown have scuttled our camping plans, but thankfully not our birding plans. I recently found the Peterson Field Guides: Birding by Ear CDs I received several birthdays ago, and am looking forward to learning bird songs in the company of my young daughter in the coming weeks. As the spring migration progresses and our identification skills expand, my daughter and I will be able to bird from the safety of our backyard, unimpeded by the usual aural litter of our city environment. There is increasing evidence that human-made noise harms wildlife. The din created by highway and recreational vehicles disrupts communication between individual animals and can hinder the ability of many species to find prey or establish a territory. The deleterious effects of noise on humans – sleep disturbance, hearing loss, stress, and increased risk of heart attacks and strokes – is well documented. It is reasonable to assume that birds, amphibians, mammals and fish suffer these physiological effects as well. People across the world have noticed the near-immediate reduction in human noise that the widespread lockdowns have caused and the subsequent increase in the audible prominence of other species. From Boston to Rome to Wuhan, city dwellers are marvelling at the array of songbirds they never knew shared their environment. As an inhabitant of Wuhan wrote on Facebook during that city’s quarantine, “I used to think there weren’t really birds in Wuhan… I now know they were just muted and crowded out by the traffic and people”. Wildlife is having a well deserved moment right now. My daughter and I invite you to share that moment by joining our birding efforts. Do a backyard big year if you have the outdoor space or simply listen for migratory birds from the open window of your apartment. Even during this difficult time, there is much to celebrate on Earth Day.

Protected Areas and Climate Action in Ontario: A Cross-Cultural Dialogue

From Ontario Nature, April 16 2020
When we talk about nature-based solutions in the modern context, we’re really talking about new ways of doing old things. Indigenous knowledge systems tell us that we must put nature first. If we look after nature, the economy will take care of itself. … We must repair our relationship with the land first and focus on our shared responsibilities to ensure our collective well-being. – Curtis Scurr, Assembly of First Nations
In October 2019, over 100 leaders and knowledge holders from Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities and organizations gathered in Kingston Ontario to share insights and strategies about addressing the interrelated crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. Hosted by Ontario Nature, Plenty Canada, the Indigenous Environmental Institute at Trent University, Walpole Island Land Trust and Frontenac Arch Biosphere Network, the three-day event provided a forum for cross-cultural dialogue and learning.
It is important for the dialogue to be not only cross-cultural but also cross-generational. … Build relationships with Indigenous peoples. Take that time and cultivate and maintain those relationships. – Shaelyn Wabegijig, Timiskaming First Nation
The purpose of the gathering was to support collaboration and enhance collective understanding about the critical role protected areas play in conserving biodiversity and increasing community and ecosystem resilience in an era of climate change.
It’s all about partnerships. We all have things to offer. It’s our responsibility—we can’t be afraid to go out and tell people what is wrong and stand up. – Chris Craig, South Nation Conservation
On behalf of the partner organizations, we are pleased to announce that the summary report and video of the Kingston gathering are now available. Read More