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> Issue 53 > Page 55 - On the Trail of Elizabeth May

Page 55 - On the Trail of Elizabeth May

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1990/1/1 (138 reads)

tent of my conversations with Tom, because it --and I think I won't even now. Just that he knew why I was upset.... And it got very un? pleasant. Which is a shame because, overall, I still think he has one of the best--well, the best record for a comparable period--of any Minister of the Environment. And the next morning we had a completely false, going-through-the-motions kind of meeting, where Tom signed the permits, over my objec? tions. Then at 11 o'clock that morning, the whole thing was all faxed off to Saskatchewan. And I wondered all day long, "What's the big deal we have in the fire? What's this big thing that happened in Saskatchewan today?" And on the evening news, it was that Saskatchewan agreed to translate its statutes into French. Mulroney'd gotten up at 11 o'clock in-the House that morning to give a speech on bilin- gualism. And I had it confirmed from other people in other Ministers' offices. When I re? signed, I had friends in other offices. And I said, "I'm leaving." They said, "Why?" I said, "Well, they traded Rafferty-Alameda for Grass? lands." And a couple people said, "Oh, I thought we traded Rafferty-Alameda for French language translation!" So! I had it confirmed every which way before I left. And I tried to leave calmly. It crossed my mind to call a press conference and make a big deal about it, but I was just too heartsick to do that. I just thought, I can't live with this.... I had been working with the Saskatch? ewan groups for months. They'd sent me their briefs, I'd talked to them on the phone, I'd reassured them a million times that Tom Mac? Millan would not take any shortcuts on the en? vironment, that we would look after this, we'd do the best we could with it. And I was not about to lie to anybody about what had hap? pened. But especially not to these people who'd worked so hard. I went to the (Queen Charlotte Islands) in Au? gust to do work on my book. And I got a job cooking on a boat in the Charlottes, cooking for tourists. So I was down in the area that was now saved as a park. And when I got back to Ottawa, I'd been there for some time in September when a reporter from Winnipeg had put all this together, and called me on the record and said, "Is it true you resigned over the Rafferty-Alameda projects?" I didn't feel I had any choice, see, at that moment, because she had asked me "on the record." I could ei? ther say, "No comment," which would be a con- '"' CABINET GALLERY EASTLAND DESIGN KITCHENS firmation, but a gutless one. Or I could say what had really happened. So I chose to tell them what had really happened. But the most positive thing to come out of my resignation becoming public was that the Cana? dian Wildlife Federation decided that there was something to all this. I didn't (tell you) the substance of why it was wrong to give the permits at the time. We hadn't done an Environ? mental Impact Assessment at all, at the federal level. We hadn't waited for the Environmental Impact Assessment from the Army Corps of Engi? neers in the States, that was going to look in? to North Dakota's interests.... And nobody in Canada or the U. S. had done an impact on what would happen to the water flow as it goes back to Manitoba. And on top of that, we were sup? posed to have a negotiated agreement with the United States on the re-apportionment of the water, on terms of what quantity of water Mani? toba would be allowed. Which required negotia? tions between Ottawa and Washington. Those ne? gotiations hadn't even started yet. So I was in the position of saying, "You can't do this now! I mean, this is not the right--there's too much that has to be done." Well, anyway, he decided to grant the permit. And what was interesting was the Canadian Wildlife Federation picked up on that aspect of the case, of the fact that I said there was no environmental assessment before those dams had their permits issued. And the Canadian Wildlife Federation took it to court. And the federal court ruled that it was illegal for the Minister of the Environment to have given permits for thos.e dams without a federal envi? ronmental assessment. Which is a decision with tremendous impact for all kinds of other pro? jects. So construction on the dams was halted The New Sterling Yard Plaza, Samson St. GLACE BAY 849-2236 Friendly Clothing Stores Serving All of Cape Breton Gentlemen Prefer Quality • Selection & Service That's why gentlemen prefer MEN'S WEAR Charlotte Street SYDNEY Main Street SYDNEY MEVES
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