The Canadian | 31 Dec 2007
Free Trade and Globalization: U.S. uranium mining company plans poses threat to over one million Canadians
by Peter Tremblay
Thanks to politicians corrupted by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a U.S. mining company is poised to make commercial profit by spreading uranium contamination across eastern Ontario and western Quebec. However, activists led by Grandmother Donna Dillman and Native-Canadian associates have sought to inspire opposition against a $3-million financing deal by an American exploration company. This U.S. transnational enterprise seeks to redevelop a decades-old uranium project near Haliburton in eastern Ontario.
Mass-media organization owned by Big Business interests in Canada’s capital, have of course, sought to minimize awareness about the health and overall environmental hazards of an irresponsible agenda, that is endorsed under the dysfuctional NAFTA regime.
NAFTA has undermined the ability of government and representative groups in Canada to be able to use public legislation to protect communities and regions in Canada from such U.S. and other foreign owned commercially self-serving projects for elites.
Supported by the NAFTA regime, and fuelled by the recent rise in the world price of uranium, Arizona-based Bancroft Uranium Inc. is exploring 1,080 hectares in Highlands East, a small municipality with a population of 3,000 about two hours north of Toronto.
The area produced nearly 6.75 million kilograms of uranium in the 1950s and 1960s. The company’s plan to start drilling in January has sparked fears of environmental destruction and water contamination. Anyone who takes jobs from such uranium mining activity is not only supporting an unethical business enterprise; but also risks jeopardizing their own health from cancers and other related illnesses.
Highlands East resident Robin Simpson, whose 40 hectares have been staked by another uranium exploration company, Vancouver-based El Nino Ventures, said he’s concerned his water supply could be contaminated if companies drilling for rock samples hit an underground aquifer.
The situation in Highlands East is illustrative of similar debates taking place across Canada in which uranium-exploration companies and provincial governments are butting heads with local residents.
In Sharbot Lake, an Eastern Ontario township near the Ottawa Valley, local residents and members of the Ardoch Algonquin and Shabot Obaadjiwan occupied Crown land last summer to protest against uranium exploration by mining company Frontenac Ventures Inc. The protesters were ordered removed by a Kingston court in September, and the company is continuing with its plan to start taking soil core samples in the new year.
Anne-Marie Flanagan, a spokeswoman for Michael Gravelle, Ontario’s minister of Northern Development and Mines, said the health of people living near uranium exploration sites is a “serious concern,” but emphasized that no uranium mine would come into existence without a full environmental assessment and public consultation process.
However, that remark does not appear to be politically genuine, in light of the Premier McGuinity government less than steller leadership on redressing all kinds of environmental destruction in Ontario, under NAFTA.
However, don’t wait for apparent "impostor social democrats" like Jack Layton and other NDP leaders to provide sincere leadership in this area. The NDP while claiming that is a ’friend of the environment’ and other related social justice issues, indeed supports the anti-labour rights, anti-social justice as well as anti-environment protection focused NAFTA.