Dispatches from the desk of John MacMillan

Labour Day

When I was a kid today was the day our family travelled to the CNE to see my brother, Peter, drum in the Huronia Regional Centre marching band. The band enjoyed a perennial spot in the Labour Day parade, and I remember watching and hearing Peter’s sticks knitting a loud and proud rhythm on his snare drum, leading his fellow mentally-disabled musicians under the Princes’ Gates.

It’s now a sad irony that some of the marchers he played for – both union members, and the managers who let it happen – were abusing and extorting him and his fellow “trainees” at the infamous HRC. We, like the other families of course, were unaware of the perfidy occurring in Orillia, so great was our trust in ethical public or so great was our relief in having a place for our son, daughter, brother or sister to reside.

The lawsuit against the Government of Ontario has now been settled out of court and beyond the public’s gaze. Peter is now dead and so are some of those who perpetrated evil upon him; the rest will bear their own just reward. As for me, suffice it to say that Labour Day always bears a bitter-sweetness: the end of summer and the beginning of a new year, plus to a large extent the advent of wariness and cynicism.

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