Communities should send clear ‘no fracking’ message

Communities should send clear ‘no fracking’ message by Expositor, June 11, 2011
Since The Expositor introduced the possibility of shale gas extraction, a process commonly called fracking, on Manitoulin, no-one has come forward to say that Manitoulin Island and its known deep-rock natural gas reserves are not on the radar for exploration by businesses bent on wresting every last litre of this form of energy from wherever it’s hidden.

That is why this paper posed the question it did last week to the candidates seeking election to the office of MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin this Thursday, June 12.

The Libertarian candidate was fully in favour of the practice and suggested that the process is safe when conducted properly. He suggested that Island residents, if fracking was to take place here, would have recourse to the courts where the onus would be on them to prove, scientifically, in court that their water had been negatively effected. At that point, and if found guilty, his party would support requiring the offending company to provide redress. [Where in Canada will the oil and gas industry, courts, energy regulators and governments allow any frac contamination or health harm case get to trial? The Ernst vs Encana legal papers were first served on the defendants in 2008; the case has already cost Ernst hundreds of thousands of dollars and is fast going nowhere. Ernst has been hauling water herself for years with no help or aquifer repair teams anywhere on the horizon. The only way to protect aquifers, families and communities is to keep fracing out.]

The New Democratic Party candidate stated that his party is concerned about the negative environmental impacts associated with fracking, particularly its potential for the contamination of drinking water….

The Liberal candidate was more aggressive in his stance against fracking and stated that he felt the industry would, on Manitoulin, pose a threat to the agricultural and aquaculture industries here and that these sustainable industries were far more important to protect, implying that these would be sacrificed for short-term gains associated with fracking, at least on the Island.

He did, however, use Manitoulin as an example for the entire province when he declared that if he were to be elected, he would introduce a private member’s bill which would emulate the Quebec position on the fracking industry and would prohibit it.

As another measure of support for the health and well-being of the community, Manitoulin’s municipal and First Nations councils should consider introducing, for each of their jurisdictions, bylaws and band council resolutions stating that they are “not a willing host” to the practice of fracking within their boundaries.

If we have an MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin, backed by their party, that advocates against this technology in Ontario and if Manitoulin Island, through its locally elected municipal and band councillors, makes its own united statement about how fracking is not wanted here, this sends a loud message to Queen’s Park, to Ottawa and to the fracking industry that it is a method of resource extraction that this area has deemed to be, in the long run, unbeneficial.

Hopefully, this is a movement that could start in the Algoma-Manitoulin riding and the District of Manitoulin and be picked up and carried across this province in order to eliminate, before they have a chance to happen, the possibility of the health and environmental dangers that other jurisdictions, notably in the US, have and are experiencing.

These are issues that Manitoulin voters may want to have front of mind when they vote provincially this week and, in the fall, when they are considering the municipal representatives who will best represent their best interests on the fracking issue. [Emphasis added]

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