Harper’s Minister, Greg Rickford Visits Thunder Bay
CUSP and CoC Protest Feds’ Negligence with Ring of Fire and Experimental Lakes
Report by Peter Lang:
Rickford Protest at the Italian Hall, Aug 14/13
It was a sunny summer day in front of the Italian Cultural Centre. Perfect weather to greet the scientifically-challenged Greg Rickford, MP for Kenora, the Harper-designate for the Ring-of-Fire negotiations — who was invited to speak to our local Chamber of Commerce. Strung out along Algoma Street was a wonderful showing of demonstrators carrying picket signs with a range of messages from “Remember the ELA” to “Cliffs is a Repeat Offender”.
From an insider’s point of view the showing was excellent, considering that we had only a few days to rouse these protesters. Central were two groups: The Council of Canadians, and CUSP (Citizens United for a Sustainable Planet). The primary issue for the Council of Canadians is the fact that while it would have appeared that the province had picked up responsibility and funding for the Experimental Lakes Area, the deadline for the feds to close this critically important facility is only two weeks away – and, to date, no agreement has been reached. If the ELA is terminated we will have lost a world-class environmental research project – one that could alert us to the air and water pollution which the Harper government would rather keep under wraps.
CUSP was there in support of the First Nations request for full, public environmental hearings (formally called a Joint Review Panel) before Ring of Fire mining proceeds. At stake is the James Bay lowlands which is comprised of some 4 rivers and 100 freshwater bodies, as well as the immediate territories of a number of First Nations communities. In view of our boom and bust economy, wherein citizens pay for infrastructure, and finally the clean-up, CUSP is concerned that we don’t make the same mistakes that saw industry and mining pollute the English/Wabigoon river system with mercury, and the Serpent river with uranium. Particularly worrisome is that the biggest mining company at the trough is Cliffs Natural Resources (actual sponsors of the Chamber luncheon) who are repeat environmental offenders in Quebec and Minnesota, and the fact the Harper government is gutting the environmental review process. Fox in the Chicken Coop? You bet!