Jeff Green | Sep 04, 2008
Sept 4, 2008 - MNR Drops Charges
Back toHomeFeature Article - September 4, 2008 MNR drops charges against Gemmill’s, Frontenac VenturesBy Jeff Green
Anti-uranium activists who attended at the Sharbot Lake Provincial Offences Court last Thursday, August 28, were surprised to find the case they wanted to monitor was over before it started.
Charges stemming from activities of Gemmill's Construction and Frontenac Ventures on Crown Land near the Robertsville mine were withdrawn, and the case was over before it had started.
“This is the way things work,” said Ardoch Algonquin acting chief Mireille LaPointe when she found out about the decision, “They can do what they want on the land and the government lets them get away with it.”
Members of the Ardoch Algonquin and the Shabot Obaadjiwaan First Nations blockaded the Robertsville mine for four months last year, claiming that the Frontenac Ventures’ exploration project was taking place on unceded Algonquin territory. It was during the occupation that they discovered that some of the road work that had already been done adjacent to the site seemed to them to be in contravention of Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) regulations.
They were able to convince the MNR to press charges but an MNR representative told the court that, in looking more closely at the case, they could see that a conviction was unlikely, and the charges were withdrawn.
Frontenac Ventures President George White was pleased with the decision. “The charges were trumped up to begin with,” he told the News, “and when we pointed out to them that we have cooperated with the MNR and with the Ministry of the Environment from the start, they knew this was going nowhere.”
White added that Frontenac Ventures is completing geological work on the site and is also in the midst of negotiations aimed at signing a memorandum of understanding with the Shabot Obadjiwaan and Snimikobi First Nations regarding the company’s test drilling program, which is set to commence soon.
The Ardoch Algonquins are not party to these negotiations, but have been involved in direct talks with the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs. However, those talks have now apparently broken off, reportedly because among other things, the government did not agree to consult with the Ardoch Algonquins prior to allowing Frontenac Ventures to begin their drilling program.
In the meantime Robert Potts, the chief negotiator for the Algonquin Land Claim, is trying to clarify who counts as an Algonquin representative and who doesn’t.
In a letter sent to municipal councils Potts wrote, in part, “From time to time you may receive communications from persons claiming or implying that they are representatives of Algonquin communities ... “.
He then identified a list of 16 individuals, whom he described as “Algonquin Nation Representatives from whom I am taking direction.”
The list includes Shabot Obaadjiwaan Chief Doreen Davis, and Randy Malcolm of the Snimikobi, also known as the Beaver Creek first Nation, listed under the heading “Ardoch”.