Hi everybody! Just thought I’d give you an update on the non-Pattersonian events in Milborough over the summer. Well, it’s kind of hard to separate the two, since it seems everyone in town has been involved one way or another, so I’ll get that out of the way first. Yes, it has been like watching a train wreck in slow motion and we’ve had front row seats for years. We’ve done a lot of soul-searching: was there something we should have done earlier? Why did we let things go on so long? Some of the revelations of the past few months have been almost as shocking to us as they have been to Mike, Liz and April, especially to Gord, who used to look upon the Pattersons as the parents he wished he’d had. The best we can do is be there for Mike.
It’s September and the kids are back to school already: Paul in Grade 7 and Rosie in Grade 5. They’re getting big so quickly and for months I have been thinking about whether I could go to university, perhaps part-time. Sometimes I feel that I want to have a back-up plan just in case something goes wrong with the business. I’ve been working here since ’94 and I wonder if I ought to have a piece of paper which would prove that I have the business management skills I’ve gained over the past 15 years, and I’m curious whether or not there are other things I’ve not learned but which could still come in handy.
The thing is, something else has come up. About a year ago, I picked up a local history book which was a real eye-opener. I mean, we all kind of knew about the radiation experiments conducted from the late 30s to early 60s, since that’s part of junior high social studies, but I just couldn’t believe the kinds of things government scientists could get away with in those days. Milbro Township turned out to be just the kind of place unsuitable for farming – too rocky and too many trees on what little arable land remained – but close enough to Toronto for the scientists to travel here to do their experiments, but not to have to live here. One of the many things which wouldn’t be allowed today was to see what effect medium to high amounts of radiation would have on wildlife, so they’d just stick a radioactive source in the bushes and then observe what happened. Not surprisingly, this was all shut down in the 60s, but I wonder if that had more to do with Toronto expanding in this direction than it did any sense of concern for the families trying to make a living here. Children born to parents who lived here during those decades have a far higher percentage of physical problems – I hesitate to say “mutations” – which seem to follow a similar pattern: prominent overbites and buck teeth, large noses, hunchbacks – it can’t all be a coincidence, especially since people who have moved here since the late 60s are largely free of such things. I found that there’s a local support group, as these physical signs often have more serious underlying health issues, but there has never been any acknowledgement from the government that this could be a result of their science program, and some of the people concerned are approaching or past retirement age and want to demand a full public inquiry, with an eye towards compensation to ensure that their later years are comfortable.
The more I thought about this, the more I wanted to get involved and do something. The next issue which caught my attention was the shoddy state of Milborough Elementary School, which still looks like it hasn’t changed since Mike and Gord went there 30 years ago: they still have blackboards and chalk – and no computer lab! The school board claims that it hasn’t enough funding for a modernization program. I’ve been banging on about this for years, ever since Paul started there, and feel like I’m getting nowhere. Either people on the board cannot tell the difference between the 1970s and 2000s, refuse to see it, or just don’t care as long as they can still see their names on the school newsletter.
So when Rod Harvey, MP for Milborough North and South-West Scarborough, announced that he was standing down to “spend more time with his family” (as the usual excuse goes), I half-jokingly said to Gord that I was tempted to run for public office, to be a voice of reason. Surely there must be other people who know that Milborough can enter the 21st century and survive. Now there’s talk of a federal election and Gord is encouraging me to consider putting myself forward as an independent candidate, someone who will keep raising the issues which need raising until someone, somewhere begins to pay attention and admit that things have gone wrong, make amends for past wrongs without trying to rewrite history, and ensure that Milborough’s legacy is not to be the butt of jokes or a cautionary tale about what not to do.
Oh boy. I think I’ve just written my first campaign leaflet.