| May 01, 2008

Letters - May 1, 2008

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Letters - May 1, 2008 Letters: May 1

Lovelace Speaks Out, Bob Lovelace

Re: Composting Plan Faces Opposition, John Waddingham

Citizen's Inquiry into Uranium, Donna Dillman

Lovelace Speaks Out

Editor's Note: At the final session of the Citizens’ Inquiry into the uranium cycle, which was held in Ottawa, Mireille Lapointe, a co-chief with the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, read a portion of a submission written by Ardoch former chief Bob Lovelace, who lives at Canoe Lake in Bedford District of South Frontenac. Lovelace has been in jail at the Central East Correctional Facility since February 18 after leading guilty to a contempt of court charge for refusing to honour a court injunction barring him from blocking the gate in front of the Roberstville mine in North Frontenac. He refused to enter into an undertaking to desist from blocking the mine, which is being used as a staging ground for a drilling program by the uranium exploration company Frontenac Ventures Corporation, and was sentenced to serve six months by Superior Court Justice Cunningham.

He is scheduled for release on August 18. He was also fined $25,000. An appeal to his sentencing will be heard on may 28 in Toronto.

Below is reprinted the final few paragraphs of the text,For an electronic version of the entire text, click on the following link lovelace-citizens-inquiry.pdf (21 kb)

I have come to understand that uranium and the military industrial complex that it feeds, is the forbidden fruit of our generation. It is the turtle with the ring of moss on its back. It is the glittery box on which Pandora speculates. My investment in the future will not be in uranium nor its allied industries. I chose the morality of Algonquin Law and I will let posterity be my judge. I have never been reconciled with Solomon's view that all is vanity. The beauty of a frozen swamp in the middle of winter is not a self-absorbed pretension. The beauty of a rainbow, a sunset, a fungus growing in layers along a fallen tree, a world independent of human comings and goings, all in all, never less than any which may be contrived. The goal of living is not in attaining beauty but in accepting it. Desire is what blinds us to invent beauty, to invent confections for the heart and mind. And in doing so we live our lives out as caricatures on Vanity's stage. As an Anishnabeg person I am not long out of the forest and I know that water in its natural form is beautifully clean, the wind is warm and full of song or cold and clear, the earth after a billion years still smells fresh and clean, one sea will produce ten, a hundred, even a thousand fold. I know that the earth is a quiet place as though listening to itself. When it speaks it does so in an immense diversity of voices, some cautious, some cautioning, all beautifully distant but urgent to be heard. It is such a world that vanity seeks to erase.

I believe that at not other time in history have humans collectively had such a clear view of the whole frame. At once it is possible to see our beginnings and the possible futures a head of us. This perspective however will not last. As we advance further a history of over consumption and unmanageable waste the opportunities for sustainability and the perceptible choices become fewer and fewer. Social change does not come easily. The defences against colonialism have had only marginal success and more often than not have resulted in violence and counter revolution. However when we look at the natural world we can see their powerful forces with which human beings ally. Within our human nature are forces with which we can endure through the harshest challenges. Collectively, the bonds of family, clan and community are far stronger than the deceptions that divide us. In pursuit of positive social change we need to activate within ourselves the gifts endowed upon us through creation. Perception, logic, discipline, imagination, courage and insight are only a few of the powerful gifts within us. We need to activate ourselves to ask less and give more so our local communities become stronger. We need to embrace silence so when we do speak the clarity of our voice will be unmistakable.

Changing the intentions of governments can be even more difficult than effecting social change. I have no doubt that more people will have to go to prison before Ontario becomes nuclear free and we embrace a society that undertakes real sustainability. The whole basis of sustainability is local communities meeting local needs. Big government simply does not fit into this picture and neither does corporate construction of need fulfilment. Sustainability is not about turning back the clock but rather the long overdue evolution of rationalizing real human needs with real earthy processes. As a society in change Ontario will need every bit of the wealth now destined for nuclear development to effect the transitions that are required. Urban structures need to be reinvented. The meaning of labour will need to be redefined. Eco-cartography will reshape political boundaries. And most of all people will change culturally. The present energy crisis and the need for sustainable economies necessitate a renaissance of humanity but present governments resist such change because the old means of governance; repression, false promises and popularity contests are not sufficient to control populations through emergent creativity. For today's governments it will seem easier to deny, pretend, punish and finally abdicate responsibility. People need to take initiative on there won and they need to do so now. There is a great need to defend the earth and our relatives in creation. Stopping uranium exploitation is definitely an important action in defending the earth. The coalitions that are created are nexus of shared knowledge and mutual concern. But simply shutting down the machines, turning off the taps and extinguishing the lights is not enough to meet the challenges of an over consumptive society. We need to reinvent ourselves.

Last year when I learned that 30,000 acres of our homeland had been staked for uranium exploration with the potential for an open pit mine, my first thoughts were how to protect Algonquin rights and interests. Since then my knowledge and understanding has grown beyond parochial interests to include my non-Algonquin neighbours and a struggle that goes further than mere resistance to colonialism. However my core understanding of what is to be Anishnabeg (human being), my knowledge of the land (aki) and my acceptance of the meaning of creation still inform who I am and what I believe. Going to prison is a small price to pay for one's integrity and even a smaller price to pay for the right to care for the earth, our mother and home to all of our relations. Sacrifice is the work that binds us with the rest of humanity who struggles to preserve their homelands, sustainable cultures and natural justice. As each day passes I believe more and more that to live free, active, intelligent, compassionate lives is our inheritance. Imprisonment is never the end of the struggle for change. It is the beginning of conviction. To be a human being is to find peace and good will taking only what you need and giving back everything.

I am humbled to be able to share my thoughts with the Citizens' Inquiry and I commend all of you for your hard work and sacrifices bringing this forum to the people.

Bob Lovelace

Re: Composting Plan Faces Opposition

Having read your article, I wish to point out that Mr. Shea has made statements that are somewhat misleading.

He states that the “MoE is very vigilant when it comes to procedures.” This may be true in regards to opening a site of this nature, but it has been proven in Thorold that, once opened, the MoE has neither the resources nor the inclination to monitor the site nor address issues that arise. Mr. Zelisnak stated that he and others complain regularly about odours, but the MoE does nothing – so much for the $100,000 a day fines Mr. Shea says he could face. And Mr. Shea has told us that his site is patterned off of the Thorold site, and they have or are acting as consultants to Earthworx.

Mr. Shea is quoted as saying “I’m not getting rich here.” Yet, based on calculations of the cost of compost at Earthworx last summer and the volume of compost Mr. Shea has told us will be taken from the site, Earthworx could gross over $5 million per year. Even if Mr. Shea runs a poorer than normal business and only maintains a 10% net from gross (versus the industry standard of 15-20%), he will earn $500,000 per year for the 20 years that he has told us this site will be in operation. This may not be seen like “getting rich” to Mr. Shea, but I question how many residents of Central Frontenac would view it as such. There is a lot riding on this site for Mr. Shea and Earthworx, and he has shown that he will say anything to defuse opposition…

As residents of Central Frontenac, my wife Martina and I have a question for Council:What does Central Frontenac get out of the Earthworx proposed zoning change?

Central Frontenac has allowed Earthworx to strip 42 acres of prime farming soil and sell it to Kingston customers. We have allowed Earthworx to start an open pit mine to take sand and sell it to their Kingston customers. And now they are asking us to allow them to open their site for table scraps and, they've told us, in the future, commercial scraps from the City of Kingston, and the townships of South and Central Frontenac. After the material has rotted sufficiently, they will sell the resulting compost to their Kingston customers.

Kingston and South Frontenac have municipal garbage collection. It would be fairly easy for them to start organic waste collection. It will be much more difficult and costly for Central Frontenac to do the same. So, predominantly, the organic waste going into the site will be from Kingston and South Frontenac.

Central Frontenac doesn’t get a new industry – this is a Kingston company with Kingston customers. And, we do not get an increase in our tax base, as this is just a zoning change.

What we do get is, first, the infrastructure cost if Westport Road doesn’t stand up to the large volume of heavy truck traffic – ten or more double trailer loads a day. Second, we get the potential health problems from airborne pathogens when the multiple rows of compost are each turned two or three times a week. Third, we get the sight, noise, smell and large carbon emissions of the compost and of the heavy equipment, which will be operating 11 hours a day, six days a week. And fourth, we get the potential for contaminated ground water -contamination, which, according to research papers on the Ministry of the Environment web site, may not be detected for up to 10 years, but, once present, would take 50 to 100 years before the water is drinkable again.

So I ask Council: Why would we take the risk, no matter how small, of the cost to our infrastructure and the potential for damage to our environment and the health of our residents and get nothing in return – no usable compost site (for us), no new industry, no new jobs, no new revenues, nothing? I seriously ask Council to vote NO to the Earthworx proposed zoning change.

John Waddingham

Citizen's Inquiry into Uranium

Having heard 140 presentations, witnessed by approximately 600 observers in four venues in eastern Ontario, including over 30 presentations in Kingston on April 8, 2008, the Citizens' Inquiry into the Impacts of the Uranium Cycle has completed its mandate.

Wethank each and every one of the presenters for speaking their truth,regardless oftheir worldview in regards to the issue. Their energy, time commitment, passion, dedication and courage are appreciated and were the core to the success of the Inquiry. Many of the stories were sobering, sometaking usto the verge oftears, others uplifting andmany very educational. People travelled from as far away as Manitoulin Island, North Bay, Montreal, and Toronto to participate. The expertise that came together over the month-long period was impressive, with many dozens of organizations and two politicalpartiesrepresented. Far too many to name individually, we thank each and every one.

Panelists Fraser McVie, Cameron Smith, Marion Dewar, Janet Gutowski, Jamie Swift, Rev. Laurie McKnight-Walker and Lorraine Rekmans deserve special mention for their willingness to sit and take notesthrough 80 collective hours of presentationsand their continued dedication as they sift through notes to formulate comments for the forthcoming Report.

Thanks, too, to all who gave of their time to be present, whether to learn more about the uranium cycle or to support the effort to raise public awareness on allof uranium's many aspects. Both sidesagreed that uranium, once disturbed, is one of the most dangerous substances on the planet and many questions were addressed, including:

Is it true that we need nuclear energy, despite the known health and environmental risk factors, the billions in cost and billions more in cost overruns and the fact that we have yet to figure out what to do with the accumulating waste at both ends "in order to keep the lights on in Ontario" to quote Premier McGuinty and the nuclear lobby?

Is it really as clean, green and affordable as that lobby would have us believe? Who benefits, and who loses as a result of this lobby?

Where do people and the environment fit when there is big money to be had by a few?

Do we want to spend another 42 billion tax dollars on nuclear generation when we are still paying off the nuclear debt on our hydro bills every month from decades past?

While the Earth will regenerate even if it takes hundreds of thousands of years, does society, our children, grandchildren and those not yet born, have that kind of time, or should we be thinking more seriously about conservation and putting our dwindling resources into renewables?

The material presented to the Inquiry panelists, as well as the submissions received, totalling approximately 200 to date, ranging from a single sentence to hundreds of pages,will form a report thatwill be published by June 28 and all submissions that fall within the scope of the Inquiry will be available on the website: www.uraniumcitizensinquiry.com.

Likeso much else, the Inquiry would not have been the success it was without the efforts of those behind the scenes, whether arrangingvenues, preparing food and refreshments, helping with promotion, or simply providing feedback when needed.You all know who you are and we do, indeed, thank you.

Donna Dillmanfor the Citizens' Inquiry Committee

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