Media Release

Mining "Side Deal" Undermines Lands for Life Proposal, Says Environmental Law Group

May 21 1999

Toronto. In an in-depth report released today, the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) says that a side deal that would allow mining in protected areas questions the supposed benefits in the Lands for Life proposals. The Land for Life proposals encompass three components: a proposed land strategy, called the Living Legacy, a Forest Accord negotiated by government, conservation groups and the forest industry; and a series of announcements by the Ministry of Mines and Northern Development.

Under the side-deal, mining companies would be allowed to prospect in new parks and protected areas for high mineral content, and if minerals were found, the park boundaries would change, creating a "floating park." The provincial government has also allowed a $21 million "treasure hunt" fund to encourage such exploration by mining companies. These companies also have what amounts to a veto.

"The people of Ontario should understand that mining initiatives can wipe-out any gains through the Lands for Life proposal. It is about time the government stopped candy-coating what is going on and tell the public that the proposal should be called Lands for the Mining Companies," noted the CELA report.

According to the report, the Lands for Life Proposal raises a number of other significant issues, including:

  • the absence of First Nations interests from the negotiations and any effective plan to include them in further processes;
  • granting of increased tenure rights to the forestry industry which significantly strengthens timber companies' interest in resources allocated to them and may require the province to compensate them should lands be withdrawn from tenure arrangements by the province; and
  • the fact that the 12% target for protected lands is insufficient to protect long-term ecosystem integrity and the vagueness of the process to increase protected areas.

The submission calls for the Ministry of Mines and Northern Development to revoke the mining announcements. In particular, those aspects as to mining in parks and "moving boundaries" of parks should be revoked.

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For more information:

Canadian Environmental Law Association
Theresa McClenaghan, Counsel, or Ramani Nadarajah, Counsel, or Paul Muldoon, Executive Director and Counsel, 416-960-2284