Province blasted as natives jailed

 

Province blasted as natives jailed

 

Kerry Gillespie

Copyright (c) 2008 The Toronto Star

 

More than 30 organizations are calling on Premier Dalton McGuinty to live up to his rhetoric about protecting the environment and improving Ontario's relationship with its native communities.

 

McGuinty says his government is dedicated to developing a "positive" relationship with First Nations communities, yet band members say they continue to be jailed and fined over conflicts with the province's outdated Mining Act.

 

Yesterday, in a Thunder Bay court, six members of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation were each sentenced to six months in jail for contempt over their opposition to drilling for platinum near Big Trout Lake on the band's traditional lands.

 

That follows a six-month sentence and $25,000 fine handed last month to Bob Lovelace of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation for contempt of court, related to a protest of drilling near Sharbot Lake by a uranium prospecting company.

 

There's a "disconnect" between McGuinty's words and the government's actions, said Anna Baggio of the CPAWS Wildlands League. "It seems like it's getting a bit out of hand," she said, noting high mineral prices have fuelled a dramatic expansion of exploration.

 

Yesterday, McGuinty asked people to stay tuned, saying work is "being done now behind the scenes on that score at a number of ministries."