There's something unseemly about the outpouring of shame and contempt from the city's only daily print media entity on learning that Maple Leaf has withdrawn its bid to open a pork processing plant in Glanbrook.
The Hamilton Spectator's editorial team hurled out the bromides in today's editorial, calling the decision "a devastating blow to the city's economy" and claiming City Council has sent a "ruinous" message to business that it's not welcome.
They used the word "pristine" not once but twice, accusing some Councillors of being too precious to admit that Hamilton is an industrial city.
The editors blew off the recent revelation that Maple Leaf has incurred $853,100 in fines for environmental violations at its rendering subsidiary in Flamborough representing years of complaints and non-compliance with Ministry of the Environment orders.
Instead, they suggested the Hamilton plant was a chance for the company to turn over a new, ah, leaf and fulfil its "pledges of environmental sensitivity".
The editors completely ignored Maple Leaf's, ah, shady communications program, from its silence on the Rothsay investigation to its ever-changing story on negotiations with other municipalities to the dangling promise of a second shift, a promise that never materialized in its Burlington plant.
They also harped repeatedly on City Council abandoning Hamilton's planning and development process, as if the process, which was developed largely without public participation, is more important than what citizens actually want.
Andrew Dreschel, never one to mince words, called Hamilton's opposition to the plant "monstrous stupidity".
Ironically, he criticized detractors for "letting the truth stand in the way of a good mudslinging [rather] than waiting for answers when your mind is already made up." Dreschel, of course, has slung plenty of mud over the years, and rarely has difficulty making up his mind.
The sad part is that the Spec is only parroting the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce's talking points. John Dolbec, the chamber's CEO, warned two weeks ago that Hamilton risked looking like it's not "open for business," a phrase rehashed in today's editorial.
Today, Dolbec called Maple Leaf's decision an "unmitigated disaster" and criticized everyone who "look[ed] a gift horse in the mouth" and, to mix metaphors, didn't appreciate the "gilt-edged opportunity".
Councillor Terry Whitehead, who supported the deal, called this "the most depressing day in my short political life."
Mayor Larry Di Ianni, who has brokered the Maple Leaf deal from the beginning, accused "those folks that [sic] chased this company away" of voting for "higher taxes and fewer jobs."
Left unsaid was the fact that the Red Hill advocates, including a very enthusiastic Hamilton Spectator, had hung all their hopes on Maple Leaf. They needed this to justify their support for the expressway that serves their hopeful greenfield industrial park.
Compared to this, the foul odours, increased truck traffic, concerns about air, soil, and groundwater pollution, and secretive process - not to mention the vocal opposition of neighbouring residents - scarcely warrant consideration.
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