| Sep 27, 2007


Feature Article - September 27, 2007

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Feature Article - September 27, 2007

Two Solitudes: a Kingston Courtroom & the Mississippi Riverby Jeff Green

Harold Perry & Randy CotaHarold Perry and Randy Cota paddling with the unity flag.

The ongoing occupation of the Robertsville mine site, access point to a 30,000 acre mining claim, by members of the Shabot Obaadjiwaan and Ardoch Algonquin First Nations, is being played out this week on a five-day paddle along the Mississippi and Ottawa rivers, and in Courtroom A of the Frontenac County Court House.

On Saturday, a couple of dozen canoes and other boats departed from the bridge over Mud Lake at Ardoch to accompany a small party of canoeists, made up of Algonquin and non-Algonquin anti-uranium activists who were embarking on a 6-day paddle to Victoria Island on the Ottawa River near Parliament Hill. They hope to arrive on Thursday night, and will proceed to Parliament Hill for a rally scheduled for 10 AM on Friday morning on Parliament Hill.

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The canoeists are carrying two jars full of water that were filled by Ardoch Algonquin Honourary Chief Harold Perry. They will be delivered to Chief William Commanda in Ottawa.

The paddle was undertaken to illustrate the flow of water from the site of the embattled uranium exploration project near Crotch Lake and the Mississippi River in North Frontenac. The anti-uranium activists assert that a uranium mine in the area would pose a serious risk to the water flowing down the river to the nation’s capital. (For further information about the rally at Parliament Hill, see www.ccamu.ca)

The call of the loons on the river contrasts with the wrangling of the lawyers in the Kingston Court. On Monday morning, lawyers for the company, the two First Nations, the OPP, the Province of Ontario, and the Algonquin Nation Representatives to the ongoing Algonquin Land Claims process, gathered before Ontario Superior Associate Chief Justice J.D. Cunningham.

The occasion was the first day of a hearing on a motion for an interlocutory injunction that Frontenac Ventures Corporation is seeking in an attempt to force the Algonquin and non-Algonquin protesters to leave the Robertsville site and allow the company to continue its exploration program, which was halted on June 28 when the occupation began.

The two First Nations communities had already informed Justice Thomson, who was hearing the ongoing case until this week, that they would not participate in the injunction hearing, citing Justice Lindon of the Ipperwash enquiry, who said Aboriginal land disputes should be dealt with by politicians and not courts.

Before commencing the hearing, the parties had a piece of legal housekeeping to deal with. The company has filed contempt charges against eight individuals, including the leaders of the two communities, for breach of an interim injunction levied by Justice Thomson concerning the same occupation, and lawyers from all sides discussed a tentative date for the commencement of that case. Justice Cunningham will be available next week, but he said he was unsure whether it would be appropriate for him to hear the case since he is charged with ruling on a longer term injunction on the same matter.

Neil Smitheman, the lawyer for Frontenac Ventures Corporation, then spent most of the day outlining the company’s case for an interlocutory injunction. Smitheman outlined his client’s activities, and described the occupation of the Robertsville mine as an “illegal, quasi-criminal occupation” which is doing “irreparable harm” to his client’s legal business interests. He said all that is required of Justice Cunningham is that he orders that the occupiers leave the site.

The Attorney General of Ontario and the Algonquins of Ontario are two parties that have intervener status in the case and their lawyers were to address the court once Smitheman wrapped up his case late Monday afternoon. It was anticipated that the case would have wrapped up by Wednesday at the latest. The judge’s decision will come some time later.In the first hearing of this case, which ended on August 2, Justice Thomson took 13 days to render his decision..

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