Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Enjoy the fishing lodges while you can

One reason why nuclear power plants are usually located near huge bodies of water is the relative ease in which a confined area can be contained if there is an "incident" like Three Mile Island or an "accident" like Chernobyl.

The same cannot be said of lakes and rivers which are converted into tailing ponds for mines and tar sands. Once they're gone, they're gone forever. We've already seen the damage done in Alberta and in Labrador. Now, as Terry Milewski reported the other night on CBC News (and as he details in a web article with his byline), more lakes are being targeted in British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, the NWT and Nunavut. A total of 16 sites. These are prime fishing spots we're talking about, huge sources of income for fishing lodges in the most remote parts of the nation. For Aboriginals, they are as hallowed ground as, say, St. Joseph's Oratory in Montréal is to Catholics in Canada.

To be fair, the regulations in question that permit this ecological terrorism were written in 2002 during Jean Chrétien's third term. However, since 2006 when PMS came to power there has been a move towards speeding up approvals without considering the consequences. At a time when we should be protecting our watersheds and even increasing the size of wetlands, we're destroying them piecemeal.

I am all for development and reducing regional disparities. There is a right way and a wrong way to do it. As someone writing about native spirituality wrote decades ago, "Our God is your God. The Earth is precious to Him, and to harm the planet is to heap contempt upon its Creator." Even many Christians have understood or are coming to understand the Earth is the Lord's, not humans', and we can't just keep taking without putting back. How can we expect to go to the Happy Hunting and Fishing Ground, if we wipe out the terrestial equivalent here in the vale of tears?

Mining, without doubt, is one of the best paying job classifications even at the entry level; but we need to ask ourselves, what price progress? Whatever bureaucrats or courts are deciding to rule in favour of business and not the people are, quite frankly, stupid idiots. When it comes to non-renewable natural resources, we owe it to ourselves and future generations to be extremely careful.

Terry Milewski once referred to the federal government as the "forces of darkness." That expression can certainly be applied to this kind of irresponsible development. Out west, farmers say "water's for fighting" in response to the tar sands projects; it's bloody well time natives and non-natives stood together to stop the bullshit being inflicted upon other bodies of water as well.

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