Comrades in garbage

Rating: NNNNNKIRKLAND LAKE -- Like a mouthy, drunk rich kid in a blue-collar bar, Toronto city council is walking smack.


Rating: NNNNN

KIRKLAND LAKE — Like a mouthy, drunk rich kid in a blue-collar bar, Toronto city council is walking smack dab into a haymaker. And like a kid who’s never taken a real punch, council has totally underestimated the resolve of its opposition.

City hall scribes have dismissed the Adams Mine opposition as just the usual band of motley lefties who oppose every decent development plan.

But the punch is coming from a very different kind of folk. On a recent night walk along the Adams Mine Road blockade, I saw retired school teacher Barb Bukowski flossing her teeth before hunkering down in her frost-covered car for the night. Definitely a woman more at home at a library board meeting than on an illegal occupation.

Bukowski has managed to remain relentlessly cheerful over four straight nights of sleeping in the cold.

Come morning, she’s in the makeshift cookhouse along with other Kirkland Lake women helping to prepare the donated beans, bacon, coffee and butter tarts.

Further up along the barricades, the night watch is being handled by two German farmers and a young “warrior” from the Timiskaming First Nation. They’re watching the lights from police cruisers up the road in the expectation of a potential dawn raid.

Three months ago, few people in this rural farming and logging district had ever met their neighbours on the Timiskaming and Mattachewan First Nation reserves. But three months ago seems like a lifetime for people who have learned to wake up with frost on their tents, throw together ramshackle cookhouses in rapid time and withstand the odious assault of the outhouses.

In little more than a few weeks, people have grown used to the massive presence of police cars and paddy wagons standing guard over the region’s roads and rail lines. And folks who otherwise might be considering their odds at bingo or bridge are weathering the threat of injunctions and sizing up the odds on civil disobedience.

What Toronto council has yet to learn is how disciplined and widespread the resolve is across this rural region. You can see it by the donations pouring into the camp: 50 pounds of fresh fish from Ville Marie, Quebec volunteers from Kapuskasing, Timmins and Barrie building materials and pre-fab housing supplied by local building stores.

Toronto council is no doubt hoping the opposition will get tired and go away, but as folks will tell you in Timiskaming, they have nowhere else to go. And that, in a nutshell, is why council is walking straight into an embarrassing black eye.

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