Confessions of an Enviro-Maniac

David F. Rooney

I confess! I confess! I’m an Enviro-Maniac!  I confess! I confess! I don’t use cancer-causing poisons on my lawn!

I confess! I confess! I shrink from the thought of poisoning earthworms, beetles, grubs, ants, songbirds, crows, ravens, fish and other living creatures who inadvertently absorb the toxins some people think I should soak my lawn with.

I confess! I confess… WTF?

Does this sound weird to you?

If — like me — you think that soaking your lawn and/or garden in cosmetic chemical pesticides is wrong and contributes to the burden of toxins turning our planet into one big Love Canal, then you, too, are, in the words of at least one anti-environmentalist an “Eco-Terrorist Maniac.”

If you don’t believe me then click here to see the kind of garbage that is being spewed onto the Internet and the e-mail inboxes of local people by one William Gathercole of Montreal. Gathercole, called “a champion of the lawn-care industry” by one of that industry’s other leading lights, uses incendiary language and odd sexual imagery in his rants about lawsuits, all the while hoping to stop municipal councils from passing bans on the use of cosmetic chemical pesticides such as 2,4-D.

I have, in the interest of freedom of speech and the hope that readers in Revelstoke will be repulsed by his so-called arguments, allowed one and only one “letter to the editor” by Gathercole.

His rant is weird and, to many people, disturbing. Here’s what he says about people in Revelstoke: “In Revelstoke, the so-called Environmental-Movement is being led by seven UNEDUCATED housewives or single-mothers, one doctor whose nick-name is Ding-Dong and believes in ghosts, and a local UNEDUCATED newspaper editor with ties to Environmental-Terror-Organizations.”

He calls Sarah Newton the “Self–appointed President and Director of North Columbia Environmental Society, and the ARCHITECT OF ENVIRONMENTAL–TERROR in Revelstoke. She also conveniently serves on Revelstoke’s DISGRACEFUL, BIASED, and SUBVERSIVE Environmental Advisory Committee that evaluates the need for prohibition.”

As for other local people concerned about the use of pesticides, here’s what he had to say:

“The DISGRACEFUL, BIASED, and SUBVERSIVE Environmental Advisory Committee, created by the City of Revelstoke, is a mere POLITICAL SHIELD for the Environmental–Terror–Movement. This group is composed of people with absolutely NO expertise in matters concerning pest control products ! Danielle Backman. Kelsey Furk. Claire Macdonald. Michael Morris. Sarah Newton. Trace Pecora. Angus Woodman. Anna Young. Enviro–Maniac–Activists within this assemblage of RADICAL and CONTEMPTIBLE people conspire towards NEEDLESS, SENSELESS, and MALICIOUS prohibition of conventional pest control products that are FEDERALLY LEGAL, SCIENTIFICALLY SAFE, TOTALLY IRREPLACEABLE, and ABSOLUTELY INDISPENSABLE. Do these people know more than Health Canada ?!?!

“Revelstoke’s DISGRACEFUL, BIASED, and SUBVERSIVE Environmental Advisory Committee is composed of people with ABSOLUTELY NO EXPERTISE in matters concerning pest control products. Consequently, the opinions expressed by these Enviro–Maniac–Activists are TOTALLY VALUELESS and UTTERLY WORTHLESS.

Additionally, Revelstoke’s DISGRACEFUL, BIASED, and SUBVERSIVE Environmental Advisory Committee is composed of Enviro–Maniac–Activists with DEPRAVED INDIFFERENCE for the plight of the hapless victims that will result from their proposed Enviro–Prohibition–Terror.

They know full well that elsewhere in Canada, prohibition has inflicted HORRENDOUS CARNAGE on the Green Space Industry.”

He also names and rails against Jill Zacharias, Nelli Richardson, Penny Page-Brittin and others in the community. As for his claim that the NCES is run by a bunch of housewives, here’s the actual list of its board members:

  • Alice Weber, science background, park warden;
  • Gregg Walker, science background, park warden;
  • Virginia Thompson, MED, and psychologist;
  • Sarah Newton, BA, urban land use, BED;
  • Heather Lea, journalist and publisher;
  • Carol Prince, RMR environment monitor, science background; and
  • Jim Maitre, BA geography, railway engineer.

As Sarah Newton puts it: “some group of housewives.”

The continual use of capitalization, weird phraseology and extreme hyperbole is pretty typical of what most professional journalists would recognize as the product of an — ah — unbalanced mind. Hmm.

What do we know about William Gathercole? He’s from Montreal and described himself as a writer and consultant for something called the National Organization Responding Against Huje That Terrorize, Harm, and Threaten the Green Space Industry (NORAHG). He apparently was for a while affiliated with Turf & Recreation magazine until his ravings became too wild. Turf & Recreation is a national publication serving the Canadian turf and grounds maintenance industry.Here’s what Mike Jiggens, editor of Turf & Recreation, had to say about him in an e-mail to Sarah Newton last February:

“We actually terminated his affiliation with us in October, in part due to these very same e-mails you have mentioned. We were becoming increasingly uncomfortable with them as well, and we didn’t like the idea that his name was connected with ours, even though he was sending these e-mails independently of Turf & Recreation and without our endorsement.”

Newton had contacted Jiggens because the tone of Gathercole’s frequent e-mailings had become so aggressive and threatening that many of the NCES members who had received them personally felt attacked and threatened, she said.

Gathercole may claim to be just a consultant and writer to a very oddly named organization but in all likelihood he is the organization (If you can stomach reading the fine print at the end of his screed he claims to be “retired” from NORAHG but all of its multi-page rants come only from him. He also has a blog called Uncle Adolph [Gee what’s with that?]). Jeffrey Lowes, who is a hired gun for the lawn-care industry here in BC, claims to be director for government and industry relations for a public relations firm called M-Rep Communications in Kingston, Ont. Lowes, a former insurance broker, is a lot smoother than Gathercole and has gained some notoriety by trying to have charges laid against people and organizations opposed to the use of cosmetic pesticides. He told The Current he was coming to British Columbia to “lay additional charges.” He did not say where or against whom.

That sounds pretty heavy but actually he, himself, cannot lay charges of any kind. He can ask the Crown to lay charges but he himself cannot do so. This amounts to legal harrassment of organizations, municipal governments and individuals opposed to pesticide use. And it’s really quite interesting since the Supreme Court of Canada has already ruled that any government can ban their use using the “precautionary principle.”

And governments across the province — are exercising their right to invoke the precautionary principle.

So what does this mean here in Revelstoke? Well, our City Council has asked municipal staff to investigate the possible drafting of a bylaw that would ban the use of synthetic chemical pesticides for cosmetic purposes on both public and private land.

Does this mean William Gathercole will show up and rant in front of City Council? Not likely, but other advocates of cosmetic pesticides may make an appearance. They might make threats, too, but they’ll likely be slicker about it than Mr. Gathercole. How resolute will our Mayor and Councillors be in the face of threats?