| Sep 06, 2007


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Feature Article - September 6, 2007

Injunction formally served at Robertsville mine

by Jeff Green

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Two representatives from the Attorney General’s office, accompanied by two OPP officers, arrived at the site of the occupation at the Robertsville mine at about 3:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon.

They were greeted by members of the Ardoch and Shabot Obaadjiwaan Algonquin First Nations, who have been encamped behind the gate at the privately owned mine since June 29, and also by a crowd of non-Algonquin supporters outside the gate.

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As the Attorney General’s representative read out a 7-page order from Kingston Superior Court Justice Gordon Thomson, the crowd drowned out his voice with cheers, drumming and singing.

The judge’s ruling said that everyone located behind the gate on the mine property, and all those supporting the people behind the gate, must leave, and the ruling granted Frontenac Ventures Corporation, which has a leasehold interest in the property, “unfettered access” to the mine site and the 30,000 acre uranium exploration property they have attained through staking.

With the order being filed, the OPP now have authorization to force the people in the encampment out, including placing them under arrest.

OPP spokesperson Paige Whiting told the News that the OPP is considering the ruling now that it has been formally served, but at this time is maintaining the same profile as it has from the start of the occupation two months ago.

On the Tuesday preceding the serving of the injunction, (August 28) a senior police officer assured the leadership from both Algonquin communities he will meet with them again before there is any change to the OPP operational guidelines at the site.

Subsequent to that meeting, a tent city sprung up outside the gate, with non-aboriginal anti-uranium activists establishing a physical presence between the road and the gate. A few of the non-aboriginal protesters have subsequently joined the Algonquin communities behind the gate.

Hours before the order was delivered on Friday, letters were received by chiefs of the two First Nations from Provincial Ministers David Ramsay (Natural Resources and Aboriginal Affairs) and Rick Bartolucci (Northern Development and Mines) offering to meet and consult with the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines.

Paula Sherman, one of the co-chiefs of the Ardoch Algonquins, said she “isn’t sure that the province is really serious because they say they want to continue to consult when they have never even started to consult. They needed to consult before issuing mining permits, not after they’ve been issued”.

Nonetheless the letters are the first provincial response to requests for provincial intervention that the Algonquins have been making since June 14.

Whether the timing of the letters, so soon before a court injunction was served, is coincidental or not, remains unclear

OPP still reviewing the situation

As of this Tuesday, September 4, OPP Communications Officer Paige Whiting was still reporting that the OPP Aboriginal Relations Team (ART) and Major Event Liaison Team (MELT), who have been overseeing the police response to the ongoing occupation since it began on June 28, are still in negotiations over the court order.

Members of the ART team were stationed as “integrated officers” inside the occupation on a rotating basis, until August 30, when they were asked to leave by the leadership of the two First Nations communities.

Although the ruling authorises the OPP to carry out arrests, it also grants the OPP discretion, and calls for confrontation to be avoided.

When the OPP did not act to enforce the court order over the long weekend, lawyers for Frontenac Venture Corporation contacted Judge Thomson, seeking a remedy against the OPP.

(Media reports that lawyers for Frontenac Ventures met with Judge Thomson last Thursday, before the injunction was served, have proven to be unfounded)

As always, we will post updates to this story as they occur on our website: www.frontenacnews.ca.

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