| Jul 31, 2008

Editorial - July 31, 2008

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Editorial - July 31, 2008 Democracy in Action - Part 2Editorial by Jeff Green

Last Saturday the Bedford Mining Alert (BMA) held its annual meeting.

The nine year old group was founded by people who were unlucky enough to be part of the 2% of landowners in Ontario who do not own their own mining rights and happened to have found their land staked and claimed by a graphite exploration company called Graphite Mountain. This shattered the peace they had been seeking when they purchased their rural properties and turned them into political activists.

The threat to their well being from Graphite Mountain has abated, although their properties are still available for staking. There is currently no way for this to be changed, under the Mining Act of Ontario.

The Mining Act has been the target of the Bedford Mining Alert since the group came into being, and the government of Ontario has been the main target of the group’s political activism.

At their latest annual meeting, there were politicians from two of the three major parties in Ontario in attendance. Local MPP Randy Hillier was there, as was Peter Tabuns, MPP and Energy Critic for the NDP.

In the audience were several people with a lot of experience in dealing with the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines and with Mining Act reform.

It was a lively political gathering, with much debate, and disagreement between parties and individuals. You might say it was democracy in action.

The one thing missing from the meeting was a representative from the one political party that has the power to act.

Minister Gravelle of the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines was not available to attend the meeting, and he sent his regrets.

He did not send a representative, or a replacement; he just turned down the invitation. It would have been helpful for the government to send someone, not necessarily to debate with the others, but simply to explain where they are headed on this file.

However I noticed a young man sitting in the second row. He had a small digital camera, with a large memory card or perhaps several cards. He recorded the entire 2 hour meeting. He was not hiding himself in any way, and it appeared to me that he was a reporter (I thought perhaps there was another new newspaper coming into our region).

It turned out the man was not a reporter. He was recording the meeting for the “Liberal Caucus”. How the caucus is distinct from the government I don't quite know.

The point is, our government does not think that it is important to explain their policy directions in open forums, they do not want to submit themselves to public scrutiny, even in the context of a meeting like the AGM of the Bedford Mining Alert, which is not exactly a mob scene.

But they do want to know what is being said about them, and they do want to monitor the proceedings.

Democracy in action indeed.

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