Tories slammed for allowing gold mining claims in Grassy Narrows as mercury cleanup stalls – by Robert Benzie (Niagara Fall Review – April 13, 2021)

The Progressive Conservatives are under fire after revelations of a new gold rush in Grassy Narrows First Nations territory even though suspected mercury dumps have yet to be cleaned up.

In the wake of a front-page Star investigation by Sheila Wang that found a dramatic increase in gold mining claims at the Grassy Narrows First Nation recently, the Tories conceded the mercury contamination dating back to the 1960s “must be properly addressed.”

“Indigenous communities are assessing the extent and location of mercury contamination, using funding approved by the English and Wabigoon Rivers Remediation Panel from the $85-million trust,” government house leader Paul Calandra said Tuesday.

That money was committed by former premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals in 2017, which at the time blamed “gross neglect” by successive Tory, Grit, and NDP governments.

Between 1962 and 1970, a paper plant in Dryden dumped 10 tonnes of mercury in the Wabigoon River, contaminating the fish and poisoning local residents.

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