Jeff Green | Jul 05, 2007
Feature Article - March 8, 2007
Back toHomeEditorial - July 5, 2007
The silence of the ministry
Editorial by Jeff Green
Over the past three weeks I’ve talked to many people on all sides of the uranium mining issue in North Frontenac, and I’ve seen a debate over the dangers of uranium and the benefits of a mine turn into a full-fledged aboriginal occupation of the Robertsville mine, literally in front of my eyes.
It seems to me that everyone that I’ve talked to is acting according to their own conscience and feels fully justified in their actions. George White and Peter Jorgensen are as convincing in their own terms as Bob Lovelace, Frank Morrison, and Marilyn Crawford are in theirs. As these people attempt to exercise their rights, they have inevitably been led to a stand-off.
But there is a ghost in this debate: the Government of Ontario. It was the government that accepted the claims staked by George White’s agents, even as they were negotiating a land claim on that same territory. It is that same government that has made it impossible to develop much of the land base in the township for any other purpose because of the land claim, putting many companies in North Frontenac out of business over the past 15 years.
It is the government of Ontario that will not allow Frank and Gloria Morrison to purchase back the mining rights to their property.
And it is the government of Ontario that has made a commitment to nuclear power - a commitment which created the demand for uranium that underlies the whole dispute.
In any event, we are now at an impasse. The Algonquins will not leave the mine site. Peter Jorgensen has lost his legitimately purchased land holding, and the OPP will not step in. They have made it clear they will not do the government’s dirty work.
What has developed at the Robertsville mine is something that can only be dealt with in one of two ways. The first way is some sort of confrontation. This, no one wants.
The other way is for the government to admit the claims staked by Frontenac Ventures Corporation were accepted by them in error because they did not consult with the Algonquins in the first place. To admit this and rescind the mining claims would require making a cash offer to Frontenac Ventures Corporation, and to Peter Jorgensen as well. This probably doesn’t scare the government. After all, it’s only money - our money.
What does concern them is sending a message that Ontario is not as open for mining as it has been in the past, and furthering the case that uranium may indeed be too dangerous to mine. None of these are desirable options for them.
Only the province can end this situation, and although they only have bad options from their perspective, they should choose the most palatable one and get on with it.
Nobody wants to wait a year for this to end.
- Jeff Green