Momentum builds for [Ontario] mining inquiry – by Carol Mulligan (Sudbury Star – October 2, 2012)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

There was a sense Monday night, in a crowded room at the Steelworkers’ Hall, that a movement was being born. Its seeds were planted in February when United Steelworkers Local 6500 released its 200-page report on the June 8, 2011, deaths of Jason Chenier, 35, and Jordan Fram, 26, at Vale’s Stobie Mine.

After concluding the accident that killed the men was preventable, the union called on the province to launch a public inquiry into an industry in which hundreds of workers have been killed in the 31 years since the last inquiry was held.

That call was advanced by a postcard campaign by USW Local 6500 and community activist Gerry Lougheed Jr., that has garnered hundreds of signatures of people calling upon Labour Minister Linda Jeffery to launch the inquiry.

Monday night, the campaign took a huge leap forward when almost 200 people packed a room set up with 80 chairs for the first public appearance of a committee called MINES — Mining Inquiry Needs Everyone’s Support. Until now, it has been comprised of members of the Fram and Chenier families, union members and Lougheed, working behind the scenes.

After a fast-paced, 90-minute meeting, MINES now has a diverse list of about 200 people, many of whom appear willing to help it advance the cause.

USW lawyer Brian Shell, who was involved in the investigation report released in February, told the audience the time is right to pressure the minority Liberal government of Premier Dalton McGuinty to do the right thing and call an inquiry.

He reminded the audience, which was well behaved and gave many speakers standing ovations, that Sudbury is represented by Liberal MPP Rick Bartolucci, who is minister of Northern Development and Mines.

By not acting upon the call for an inquiry, there could be political consequences for the Liberal riding in the next election, Shell warned.

Retired Steelworker activist Homer Seguin was applauded loudly after he spoke in a raspy voice about the the need for an inquiry in 2012.

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