Straight-shooting reflections on Earth Day

Years ago and far away in a committee room at the Saskatchewan Legislature, the manager of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company stirred up a minor political uproar by telling the truth.

Opposition MLAs were complaining about constituent reports that STC buses were dirty.

General manager William Flynn, a longtime veteran manager at the Crown corporation, blamed customers for leaving trash on buses.

“People are pigs,” said Flynn, showing his straight-shooting style, if not his political smarts.

On Sunday, I remembered that long-ago quote and had reason to reflect on how correct he was, although I think he was giving pigs a bad name.

It’s become a tradition at my small rural church in western Quebec to use the Sunday closest to Earth Day to have members of the congregation head out with garbage bags to pick up litter in ditches and roadways.

On Sunday, my assignment was a half kilometre stretch of road leading out of town toward the Gatineau River and the Paugan Falls hydro dam, heading toward my fifth generation family farm.

The amount of garbage was unbelievable – beer cans and cases, junk food containers, car parts, Styrofoam and clothes.

This rural area, an easy drive north of Ottawa, along the beautiful Gatineau River, is a favourite destination for weekend day-trippers looking for a break from the city.

They come for its sights — verdant forest views, the river, small villages and farm fields populated by cattle, horses, bison and deer out for a graze.

They drive into the Gatineau Valley for the beauty.

Then they throw their garbage out of their car, often bags full.

One local once saw a garbage bag being thrown out of a passing car. He picked it up, followed the car back to its city address and threw the bag onto the lawn.

As the full garbage bags piled up at the drop-off site beside the church on Sunday, I thought back to that Regina committee meeting all those years ago.

People, some people, are pigs.

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