ROC mine ruling marks century of women’s rights struggle

This article is part of our bicentenary week journalism project: the birth centenary of women’s suffrage in Wales and the 100th anniversary of the birth of Welsh women’s rights activist Rosie Thornton, who was…

ROC mine ruling marks century of women's rights struggle

This article is part of our bicentenary week journalism project: the birth centenary of women’s suffrage in Wales and the 100th anniversary of the birth of Welsh women’s rights activist Rosie Thornton, who was allegedly also attacked by miners in the mines.

Imagine you live in the Canadian province of Ontario, population 13.6 million, home to a rich quarry of iron ore, large chunks of which are deposited in their own.

You and other Ontarians like you look across the road at a region of rich agricultural land that lies to the east and has since 1908 been the centre of a mine-making operation that is part of the world’s largest integrated mining and recycling business, the Ring of Fire (ROC).

Imagine, too, you are not one of the 12,000 people whose daily lives are ruled by what your government considers “good jobs”.

No wonder then you have more than enough reason to be furious at the court decision by the Ontario government of Kathleen Wynne to approve a new environmental permit that, according to the Ontario Nation, is “unduly influenced by twisting of the site map by an out-of-touch provincial government which has allowed this practice of being overly influenced by inaccurate records to continue to undermine good jobs and the environment”.

Kathleen Wynne, the province’s premier, has since voiced her “regret”. Her government says it has made changes to the permitting process after new mining permits in the ROC have been “unjustifiably rejected or delayed over the past eight years”.

In this story, Maureen MacDonald, a First Nation leader from the Dark River territory, and sister of Anishinaabe tribe women’s rights advocate Anishnaabe Mshilaw, refer to the case in which they took action for “polarised language and political tension” with its continued use of “predatory [and] out-of-date information”.

MacDonald says the government “purposefully deleted and manipulated the record”.

It was a dangerous game of “trickery and bad faith”, she says.

It was the result of the Ontario government’s adoption of a map from 2002, which the Ontario Nation says was supplied by a private contractor and is outdated and inaccurate.

A StatCan analysis in 2013 said using the 2001 map “militates the geological boundaries of the development of the proposed Ring of Fire project”.

Under the “bad faith” allegation, MacDonald and the Ontario Nation must now “provide incontrovertible evidence that the process was not carried out in good faith by the government of Ontario”.

While Ontario Nation continues to pursue its legal rights through the courts, the reality is that the chances of progress are constrained by the economic fallout that is the inevitable outcome of an almost decade-long process of sitting around a table while the region waits for its economic future to be decided.

McDonald says neither time nor economic development options have failed to materialise.

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