By Ken Stone
Published November 16, 2012
I remember Maggie Hughes as a tireless fighter for the environment and for social causes who understood the need for collective political action to create positive change and regularly took part in it, despite her serious ailments.
I first met Maggie during the fight to save the Red Hill Valley from being destroyed by the building of an expressway that currently leads to urban sprawling housing surveys and a few small industrial plants, which should have been built on the brownfields of North Hamilton.
During that 2001 summer of struggle, Maggie was everywhere on her mobile throne with her recording equipment wrapped around her: at City Hall, at planning meetings at McMaster's downtown campus, on the trails in the Valley, in the thick of the action on the picket lines and in the native longhouse near Greenhill Avenue.
She interviewed ordinary people about their views on saving the Valley, its 35,000 trees, its native archaeological ruins, its wildlife.
She had her good days, when she could walk about, and her bad days, when she needed her electric wheelchair.
She also had strong views and a salty tongue with which she did not shy away from broadcasting for many years on her community radio program, "The Other Side", at CFMU, McMaster Radio at 93.3 FM.
I bumped into Maggie a number of times over the intervening years at events sponsored by Environment Hamilton and the Hamilton 350 Committee and during protests over various social and political issues at Gore Park.
I worked with her once again over the struggle to prevent Enbridge from reversing the flow in its Pipeline #9 from Hamilton to Sarnia and pushing corrosive Alberta Tar Sands diluted bitumen through it instead of crude oil.
The last time I saw Maggie alive was at a presentation on October 17, 2012, at Hamilton City Council at which Enbridge failed to show up for third time but environmentalists were present to make submissions against its reckless pipeline proposal.
Maggie had recorded some video of the devastation wrought on Kalamazoo, Michigan, by the Enbridge pipeline rupture there and the ill effects on the Kalamazoo River as well as nearby residents, two of whom died later from toxic fumes associated with the spill.
Her video was worth more than a thousand words. It was projected on the big screens in the Council Chamber where it had a profound effect upon the elected officials.
I am very sad that Maggie will no longer be around to be a thorn in the side of the 1 percent of people who comprise the establishment she so often railed against. We too often take our comrades for granted, not realizing that life is short and they may not be around forever.
Thank you for all your contributions, Maggie. We will miss you.
There will be a visitation and service for Maggie on Saturday, November 17, 2012.