Province open to mining inquiry: Lougheed – by Darren MacDonald (Sudbury Northern Life – June 13, 2012)

Joins with former mayor to call for review of Ontario’s mining industry

Two heavyweights in Sudbury’s political life are putting politics aside to fight together for a provincial inquiry into Ontario’s mining industry. Jim Gordon, a former Sudbury mayor and Progressive Conservative MPP, and Gerry Lougheed Jr., a prominent Liberal supporter, are asking Sudburians to support a postcard campaign calling on Labour Minister Linda Jeffrey to launch the inquiry.

Lougheed said he believes the province will move forward if the public shows they support it. He has printed up 10,000 postcards and would love to print up 10,000 more.

“I’m very confident the minister is open to hearing all voices on this,” Lougheed said Wednesday morning. “In fact, I think they’re giving us this window to let the public show its support.”

It has been more than 30 years since the last inquiry, and Lougheed said mining has undergone huge changes since then, including radical changes in technology that has revolutionized the way miners work, as well as ownership changes. Both major mining operations – Vale and Xtstrata – are owned by huge, multinational corporations.

Those two factors alone are enough to warrant a re-examination of the industry, he said. But what’s driving the current campaign is an increase in mining fatalities over the past few years, including eight people who have died in the last 12 months.

In Sudbury, Vale is being investigated and faces Ministry charges over the deaths of two local miners, Jason Chenier and Jordan Fram. They were killed while working at Vale’s Stobie Mine in Sudbury on June 8, 2011.

“I know it irritates some people when I say this, but no one should go to work with a lunch bag in the morning, and come home in the evening in a body bag,” Lougheed said. “We don’t have a specific goal for the postcards – 20,000, or however many it takes to show the need for this inquiry.”

For his part, Gordon said he has attended too many funerals for workers killed on the job, and has attended too many Days of Mourning ceremonies in his time in public life.

“One of the most heart-wrenching moments you can have is to go to a mine site after there has been a death,” he said. “You just have to do that once and you understand why there’s a need for this inquiry.

“And I’m growing more concerned about what’s been going on. Too many people are getting killed in this occupation … Mining has changed immensely and yet people are still getting killed.”

Postcards are available at Lougheed Flowers on Regent Street, the USW Hall on Brady Street, or residents can write to Jeffrey directly at Queen’s Park, 14th Floor, 400 University Ave., Toronto, Ont., M7A 1T7.