Supreme Court to decide on Grassy Narrows logging dispute – by Jody Porter (CBC News Thunder Bay – July 10, 2014)

Ontario First Nation argues province has no jurisdiction on treaty lands

A ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada on Friday will help determine who controls resource extraction across much of the country.

Grassy Narrows First Nation, north of Kenora, Ont., is arguing that the province does not have the right to issue logging or mining permits on its traditional lands.

“After years of trying to get the [forest] industry and the minister of natural resources to take it easy on the forest, we decided to launch a court case,” said trapper J.B. Fobister, one of the plaintiffs in the case that was launched in 2000.

Fobister said many people in Grassy Narrows need the forest to make a living. He estimates he makes up to $10,000 a year trapping pine marten. Some families rely on moose as a major food source.

But Fobister said industrial logging in the area interferes with all of that. “If you have no forest, you don’t have animals,” he said. “We need to see some benefits from the destruction of our homeland. There is no plan to replace what is taken from us.”

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NEWS RELEASE: Supreme Court hears Grassy Narrows’ legal case for Treaty rights and against clearcut logging

Ontario’s new plan for clearcut logging at Grassy Narrows looms

Ottawa – May 15, 2014  – Today the Supreme Court of Canada will hear Grassy Narrows’ legal case for treaty rights and against clearcut logging. The case challenges Ontario’s jurisdiction to unilaterally award logging and mining licenses on a vast tract of Treaty 3 lands north of the English River (the Keewatin Lands). The case, called Keewatin v. MNR, has been winding its way through the courts for fourteen years.

In Treaty 3, signed in 1873, Canada promised to respect the right of the Ojibway to hunt and fish in their territory.

However, Ontario continues to plan for clearcut logging throughout Grassy Narrows’ Territory that will seriously limit Grassy Narrows’ rights, and has finalized a new 10 year Forest Management Plan for Grassy Narrows’ Territory that includes numerous large clearcuts permitted by Ontario against Grassy Narrows’ will. The new plan was scheduled to take effect in April 2014, but has been delayed due to a request for environmental assessment and widespread opposition including by grassroots Grassy Narrows youth and Ontario Regional Chief Beardy.

“We hope the Supreme Court will agree that the original intent of our Treaty with Canada must be upheld to protect our way of life,” said Chief Roger Fobister Sr. of Grassy Narrows.

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Grassy Narrows takes logging fight to Supreme Court – by Jody Porter (CBC News Thunder Bay – May 15, 2014)

A case before the Supreme Court of Canada on Thursday could determine the future of resource extraction in much of the country. Grassy Narrows First Nation, in northwestern Ontario, is challenging Ontario’s right to issue logging or mining permits on their treaty lands.

Councillor Rudy Turtle said the clear cutting of trees near his home has ruined trap lines and scared away the moose in the area.

“If someone can’t get a moose, they have to rely on store-bought food, which is unhealthy and very expensive,” Turtle said.”Whenever someone kills a moose, it’s their supply of meat for their whole family for the winter.”

The First Nation argued successfully in an Ontario court that their treaty rights to hunt, trap and fish are “subject only to limits placed by the federal government,” as laid out in Treaty 3. Ontario appealed that decision all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The lawyer for Grassy Narrows said the case will lay out the responsibility of the federal government “to try to help sort things out between the non-Aboriginal people who want to use resources and the Aboriginal people who are also using those resources.”

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Caribou protection hampers [northern Ontario] forestry upswing – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – February 5, 2014)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – At a time when the forest industry in this province is predicting a major upswing, Cochrane could end up losing jobs in this sector because of the impacts from government policies to protect caribou habitat.

Jamie Lim, president and chief executive of the Ontario Forest Industries Association, said the industry is looking at a “recovery hat-trick” which includes a rise in U.S. housing starts, changes to the Canadian building code next year which will allow the use of timber frames in higher-rise construction, and the global trend towards “green” or renewable building materials which favours wood.

However, she expressed concerns about limited gains being be made in forest-dependent communities like Cochrane where the new Abitibi River Forest Management Plan predicts “less economic benefits” due to a reduction in available harvest volumes.

The existing long-term management plan calls for a 65% volume reduction over the next 25 years. “The lower volumes translate into reduced manufacture of primary products, less taxes and less employment opportunities,” according to the analysis on Page 204 of that plan.

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Grassy Narrows First Nation on alert for logging – by Crystal Greene (CBC News Aboriginal – February 3, 2014)

Longest running First Nations blockade effectively stopped logging since December 2002

The Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation (Grassy Narrows) is on alert for logging trucks to come in April 2014. Grassy Narrows is the home of the longest running First Nations blockade in Canada. Its original Slant Lake blockade site, about 100 km north of Kenora, Ontario, started on December 2, 2002.

Judy DaSilva is a member of Grassy Narrows First Nation and has been on the forefront right from the start. “As a mom, I’ll do whatever I can to protect the forests, pretty much the other moms around here have the same mindset,” said DaSilva a mother of five with concern for the future generations.

In 2002, DaSilva was tired of seeing mercury debilitate her people, watching logging trucks pass by her home and took action.

Last year, DaSilva won a Michael Sattler Peace Prize from the German Mennonite Peace Committee for her non-violent direct-action approach in the blockade at Grassy Narrows traditional territory, within the Treaty 3 region. Logging halted for over 11 years, but in the past few months things are picking up once again.

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Liberals’ latest disaster in works leaves northern Ontario vulnerable – by Christina Blizzard (Toronto Sun – December 18, 2013)

TORONTO – It’s almost as if the Liberal governments of Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne want to turn out the lights in northern Ontario, shut the place down and walk away from it.

The disastrous decision to shut down Ontario Northland Railway — a vital passenger link for northern communities — was bad enough. It was supposed to save $230 million. Last week we heard from auditor general Bonnie Lysyk it will probably cost around $820 million to shut it down.

The latest disaster in the works is a plan to cut Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) fire services to Kirkland Lake — a plan that will leave an area the size of France without fire protection, says Kirkland Lake Mayor Bill Enouy.

“We have no protection in Timiskaming right now because they tell us they’re protecting us from Cochrane or Timmins, which are 145 km away,” he told me. Kirkland Lake was hard hit by forest fires in 2012. Without the MNR firefighters, those infernos would have been even more devastating.

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Logging plan would deepen the tragedy at Grassy Narrows – by Simon Fobister (Toronto Star – November 3, 2013)

The Toronto Star has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on federal and Ontario politics as well as shaping public opinion.

Simon Fobister Chief of Grassy Narrows Band

Forty years ago, Ontario devastated the community of Grassy Narrows by dumping mercury into its river system. If the province goes ahead with its logging plan, it will do it again.

Premier Kathleen Wynne came to our community in the summer of 2012 and said she wanted to rebuild Ontario’s relationship with Grassy Narrows. She said that this time she wanted to “get it right.” Instead, her officials have continued to unilaterally pursue clearcut logging plans for our homeland.

These plans were and continue to be developed without our participation, knowledge and consent. We are frustrated that these processes are conducted entirely outside of the five-year-long process we have undertaken in good faith with Ontario to reach a mutually agreeable resolution to these issues.

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Ontario sacrificing forestry jobs – by Peter Politis (Timmins Daily Press – October 25, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

Peter Politis is Mayor of Cochrane

TIMMINS – Few who understand the dynamics of the North would argue that diversification of the northern economy is both challenging and necessary.

Few Northerners would argue that the region we live in, that occupies 90% of the entire provincial land mass, is on a slippery slope to becoming little more than an uninhabited backyard for the well‐intended, but misguided, southern voters to visit on occasion.

What should be seen as a rare 21st century frontier of opportunity instead seems to have been reduced to a limited colony consumed by irrational extremism fuelled by what can seem like political cowardice and a society that loses its grip on sensibility at times.

Once again, as a mayor fighting alongside many other mayors to not only keep our way of life from falling into the abyss, but our entire future as a region as well, I’m left feeling frustrated over the lack of urgency or priority critical Northern matters receive.

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The boreal flying pigs agreement – by Peter Foster (National Post – October 2, 2013)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

Those responsible for negotiating and extending the 2010 Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (CBFA) are on a charm offensive, claiming that the agreement has been a great success, and should be a template for similar agreements in industries such as oil and gas.

No word if they are also pushing a Canadian Flying Pig Agreement (CFPA).

Under the CBFA, members of the Forest Products Association of Canada, FPAC, were forced into bed with a group of radical anti-development environmental NGOs — including the Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace and ForestEthics — to negotiate development of one of the largest forests in the world.

Avrim Lazar, the former bureaucrat who headed the association when the deal was signed, is doing the media rounds explaining how boffo the CBFA has been. Also on the promotion circuit are Bruce “Slow Death by Rubber Duck” Lourie, a renowned chemophobe and environmental alarmist, and Aran O’Carroll, the CBFA’s interim executive director. Mr. Lourie, as president of the Ivey Foundation, helped “broker” the CBFA, along with the giant U.S.-based Pew Charitable Trusts, the ironic legacy of the Pew family that pioneered commercial development of Canada’s oil sands.

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Getting better all the time – Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal Editorial (September 27, 2013)

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

THE GLASS in Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario appears to be half-full and then some. Economic prospects are being touted, even on the once-dicey forestry front which is making a nice comeback after a recessionary bust. We will not see the same kind of forest industry any more. Instead, we will see advanced versions of traditional forestry and new ways to use trees. In a region where an estimated 60,000 jobs were lost to a perfect storm of economic, political and market challenges, any news of improvement is good news. There was some of that at a conference in Thunder Bay this week.

Where all but the hardiest pulp, paper and sawmills closed in the face of the 2008 recession, new growth is under way in innovations like biofuel. The Ontario generating station in Atikokan, for example, is being converted from coal to burn wood pellets and forestry in that region is rebounding to provide them.

The big pulp mill in Terrace Bay that thrived for years making traditional pulp for longtime owner Kimberly Clark’s Kleenex tissues, then closed, has been purchased by an Indian company that is converting it to produce dissolving pulp instead. The rayon ingredient is in high demand for textiles — everything from rayon to cellophane to tire cord — and specialty paper products like filters, among other products.

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New Tory platform fighting caribou ESA plan – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – September 12, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – Two key criticisms of the caribou conservation plan will be addressed by the Ontario Tories’ revamping of Endangered Species Act, says the party’s natural resources critic.

MPP Laurie Scott (PC – Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock) told The Daily Press Thursday the Progressive Conservatives will unveil a natural resources/northern development platform in Thunder Bay on Monday which outlines promised changes to the ESA.

Scott said the Tories would make it mandatory to consider the socio-economic impacts of any recommendations made under the ESA before its implementation. “Right now the legislation has it that the minister may consider socio-economic factors. We’re saying it must consider the socio-economic factors,” said Scott.

The Tories would also require that any scientific analysis used to determine recommendations would have to be posted publicly to the Environmental Registry to allow stakeholders to provide input.

While these changes would apply to the ESA as a whole, they also respond to key concerns raised by organizations like the Ontario Forest Industries Association about lack of peer-reviewed science and absence of any consideration of socio-economic impact in the caribou conservation plan.

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Industry facing cut in wood allocation for caribou – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – September 3, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – Despite reassuring words from provincial politicians, the forest industry still faces a massive reduction in wood volume due to caribou conservation efforts being proposed in this region.

“On the Abitibi River Forest, it’s a disaster because they have not changed the long-term management direction one iota,” said Cochrane Mayor Peter Politis. “The existing long-term management direction sees about a 65% volume loss in 25 years which will devastate towns right from North Bay to Hearst.”

This is a marked change in tone from two months ago. Industry and municipal politicians were hailing Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources when it formally acknowledged the Crown Forest Sustainability Act fulfils the requirements of the Endangered Species Act.

However, the decision to harmonize these acts hasn’t made any difference to the caribou conservation efforts being implemented on the Abitibi River Forest.

“What the MNR is doing, they’re trying to recover caribou all over the place, all the way down south of Lake Abitibi where they don’t exist right now,” said Politis. “That’s what’s causing the problem.”

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ForestEthics fights for one-way democracy – by Peter Foster (National Post – August 16, 2013)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

The question is whether eco storm troopers will abide by the decision if they lose

Eco radicals have a highly flexible approach to public participation, but little or no flexibility on its allowable conclusions. When it comes to forcing a green agenda on people – say, via removing the right to object to local wind farms in Ontario — they are all in favour. When it comes to new pipelines, however, they believe in the widest possible consultation, but with only one acceptable decision: Ban them.

This week the government’s regulatory streamlining legislation for new energy projects, contained within 2012’s Omnibus Bill C-38, was the subject of a lawsuit by an arm of San Francisco-based environmental group ForestEthics, which has for years been front and centre in anti-oil sands and anti-forestry activism.

A subsidiary, ForestEthics Advocacy, FA, and an individual named Donna Sinclair, both represented by celebrity Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby, FA’s chairman, sought to overturn the government’s provisions on the basis that they restrict freedom of speech, not to mention threatening the survival of life on earth.

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Right decision, finally, on Endangered Species Act – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – June 4, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – Environmental lobby groups would have you believe the government has given free rein to the forest industry and that endangered species are now at risk of extinction.

The outcry by environmental groups over the province’s decision to harmonize requirements under the Endangered Species Act and the Crown Forest Sustainability Act should come as no surprise.

After all, special interest groups had a free hand in drafting the original ESA. In fact, environmental groups boasted in an Ivey Foundation report about how effective they were in limiting the industry’s input.

Credit the Ontario government for recognizing the redundancies and myopic slant of the regulations that ignored impacts on resource industry-dependent communities.

Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with forest management process knows the industry does not have the free rein to clearcut and destroy wildlife habitat. Despite environmentalists’ claims, there are Crown forests that have seen substantial reductions in available fibre due largely to caribou conservation efforts. These have all been implemented through a conventional forest management planning process.

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ESA changes end caribou battle – by Ron Grech (Timmins Daily Press – June 4, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – Forestry and municipal officials are hailing a provincial decision which they say finally balances the needs of both environment and industry. “After fighting all these years, this sounds too good to be true,” said John Kapel, sawmill operator and owner of John Kapel Enterprises in Timmins.

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources announced Friday it will harmonize requirements under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Crown Forest Sustainability Act. which will reduce red tape and eliminate overlapping regulations.

This is a move the Ontario Forest Industries Association has been asking the government to do for the last six years. The change comes into effect July 1.

Jamie Lim, OFIA’s chief executive, told The Daily Press, “The changes that are being made are based on the recommendations that were brought forward by the ESA panel in January,” which was made up of a varied range of stakeholders. “It will certainly assist in simplifying the rules not only for forestry but also municipalities and other sectors.”

Not everybody is happy. Immediately following the announcement, environmental lobby groups jointly issued a press release decrying the government’s decision.

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