Slow, downsize Ring of Fire project – by Patricia McCormick (Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal – December 14, 2013)

Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.

In response to Don Watson’s question “Why the Ring rush?” (letter, Dec. 4) and Kaleigh Bahlieda’s answer, “If you can’t grow it, it has to be mined!” (letter, Dec. 5) I’d like to agree with both of them and add my own question: When would be a good time to practise sustainability for minerals supply via recycling, totally?

I ask this because eventually we will exhaust our Earth’s deposits of minerals. We must ask ourselves how much or how many of our other precious resources, for example clean watersheds and boreal forest, are we willing to give up for a new versus a recycled supply of minerals?

How much of these new minerals do we really need? How much are destined solely to make money for shareholders and executives of large corporations via creation of consumer ‘need’ for, for example, stainless steel kitchen appliance replacements for the previous ‘must have’ white fridge, green fridge, gold fridge, back to the white fridge . . . and now stainless steel fridge?

I take issue also with Gary Laine’s article, Ontario’s Ring of Failure (Viewpoint, Dec. 2). “Our provincial leadership is badly stricken by analysis paralysis” Laine says.“Clearly, Kathleen Wynne and Michael Gravelle, who both repeatedly hide behind the phrase ‘we want to make sure we do things right,’ are victims of this progress-preventing condition.”

I support Wynne and Gravelle wholeheartedly because the vast majority of resource extraction projects, on First Nation lands, are disasters. Attawapiskat comes to mind. A Feb. 13 report by CBC’s Jody Porter states, “Documents show Attawapiskat gets 0.5-per-cent share of annual diamond revenues.” Assembly of First Nations’ Ontario Regional Chief, Stan Beardy, is quoted in this same article saying, “It’s a learning tool and we have to learn from that. But going to the future, I think we need to look at what is fair, what is adequate and what is reasonable.”

Bob Rae, chief negotiator for Matawa First Nations Tribal Council in talks with the province over Ring of Fire development says nearby communities need “jobs, training and education.” A federal review of the relationship between De Beers’ Victor mine and Attawapiskat showed that government support for training and capacity did not start soon enough to deal with the huge lack of skills in the First Nation. Do we want this to happen again, in the Ring of Fire? And who is responsible for First Nations education? Answer: Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

Laine laments that the provincial government has not yet built billion-dollar roads into the Ring of Fire. Why should provincial taxpayers pay billions to enable rich corporations, like Cliffs and deBeers, to take the lion’s share of mining profits out of our province and out of our country?

Lastly, there are jubilant cheers at the prospect of a 50-60-year lifetime for the chromite mine. Fifty to 60 years is two generations. I like the First Nations tradition of looking ahead seven generations.

Is jobs for some for 50 years a good return for the devastation that is very likely to befall the Ring of Fire communities, the water, the soil, the forest and every animal species that lives there? Ask the people of Fort MacKay and Fort Chipewyan, in Alberta, and Grassy Narrows, in Northwestern Ontario.

I support everyone who advocates for slowing down the Ring of Fire project. I’d like to see Matawa First Nations manage the mines. Let there be smaller projects over a longer time frame run by and employing Matawa community members. No more fast-tracked snatch-and-grab by multinational corporations taking our tax dollars, enormous profits and our finite resources out of our country and leaving behind pollution and continued poverty of the local population!

Patricia McCormick

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