Harp and Co. are up to their usual dirty tricks - cutting a secret deal that a lawsuit filed last week by Ecojustice Canada (formerly Sierra Legal) says will allow Big Mining to keep secret the tonnes of toxins it dumps into the environment every year.
What Ecojustice's suit alleges
Environment Minister John Baird c ontravened the Environmental Protection Act when he assured mining companies that they did not have to report the amount of waste rock they dump into the environment.
What makes the Tories' latest eco-crime so sinister
Baird's predecessor, Rona Ambrose, actually ordered an end to the decades-old exemption that gave mining companies carte blanche to dump as much toxin-laden waste rock as they wanted into leaky tailings ponds.
Why we should care
Only 2 per cent of all rock mined contains what is referred to in the business as "the values." The rest is waste that's highly volatile and toxic in perpetuity. The crushing of rock produces sulphuric acid that has a nasty habit of finding its way into groundwater.
What the Mining Association of Canada says
Companies are "fully committed... to reporting environmental information." And, in fact, "have reported environmental and social information beyond regulatory requirements."
The hard truth
? There's little keeping Big Mining honest. In many cases, companies are allowed to walk away from projects once they're done, without paying for cleanup costs or future liability. All they have to do is pay an upfront "exit" fee.
? Companies with a triple-B or better credit rating don't have to provide any financial insurance for cleanup costs.
? In fact, in Ontario, environmental assessments of mining proposals are rarely required, thanks to little-known Declaration Order MNDM-3/3, in place since 2003, which exempts mining claims on Crown land from EAs.
The numbers don't lie
There are 5,600 known abandoned mine sites in Ontario -- some 250 of these toxic waste dumps leaching a lethal cocktail of harmful chemicals into watercourses and aquifers.