Ontario’s resounding disregard for First Nations | Letters

The recent announcements of a Quebec international airport, high-speed rail service, major development in Vancouver, Albertan mega-dam, Amtrak-Canada rail route, new rail service into the United States by future Vancouver Airport and even higher-speed rail service (NDP delays Vancouver airport runway extension, 2023, 2038, 15 June) have come about without the objections of native groups, a neglect that reflects Ontario’s past history of thuggish repression.

After 46 years of court battles, many thousands of hours of work and hundreds of millions of dollars spent, we still fight tooth and nail in the courts for air, water and lands on which to pursue our indigenous way of life. No amount of “assurances” by Queen’s Park or federal governments could erase those bloody scars.

The Grassy Narrows First Nation


• Your article recounts the Ontario government’s struggle to get approval for another mine at Grassy Narrows. It illustrates how the Ontario government has disregarded the concerns of First Nations (‘Grassy Narrows: We are surviving,’ 5 June). Grassy Narrows residents have been fighting the gold and copper mine project for more than a quarter-century. The recently announced government findings are a slap in the face to our community. First Nations have been left behind again. We should not be held in limbo as a land of mine and water of the past!

Nicole West

Grassy Narrows First Nation

• I support the new study by Prof David Keith at Harvard that says we should replace coal with renewables and lower the price of clean energy. As a firm believer in the cause of cleaner air, clean water and freer trade, I have worked with the Campaign for Clean Air, Water and the Economy for many years. We need urgent action on climate change and on the cumulative climate impacts of humans dumping massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.

We cannot close our eyes to these issues, but as a spokesperson for the electric vehicle user group Transport Emissions Pollution Society of Canada, I have met Canadians across Canada who want the auto industry to embrace clean, efficient and affordable alternative fuel vehicles. This should include a battery backup system to guarantee a stable power supply for electric vehicles when there is no charge available to the grid.

In Ontario, fossil fuel subsidies – led by the Coal Fund – are grossly unfair. We should subsidise renewable energy, not dirty coal.

Maria McCarthy

Campaign for Clean Air, Water and the Economy

• A whole range of new transportation options – including public transit and biking – have transformed the lives of numerous urban populations, especially in countries like China and India. As cities expand, demand for affordable and safe public transit continues to grow.

In Ontario, we have the potential to create a strong Newmarket-Aurora Transit Area by placing a high-speed rail corridor to the Toronto airport – just outside of Grassy Narrows First Nation. Public transit could also be a model for the much larger Toronto area. If fully built, this can create tens of thousands of new jobs and reduce emissions by half, or more, by 2040.

Rural Ontario is also being left behind by transit. Public transit is essential to effectively moving commuters and getting goods to market. The patronage of rural towns, through both public and private bus services, makes up over 30% of all public transit. The provincial Liberals have been pushing a plan that would close half of the rural bus depots and force the population to travel to local urban areas for rail service. That is bad news for the economy and our long-term quality of life. The NDP has rightly begun to suggest an alternative model where new transit infrastructure was added in large cities while in-residence bus access was curtailed. That model would better meet the needs of the growing rural population.

Elizabeth Trussler

National Co-Chair, Transportation Emissions Pollution Society of Canada

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