Manitoba: Sio Silica Corp-con politico frac sand aquifer-violating project (pimped under guise of green) Circle Jerking continues. Did Heather Stefanson step down for obvious reasons?

Sio Silica probe paused after Stefanson steps down by Dan Lett with files from Kevin Rollason, April 30, 2024, Winnipeg Free Press

Former premier Heather Stefanson’s sudden resignation from the Manitoba legislature last week will not spare her from an investigation over allegations she attempted to rush approval of a controversial silica sand mining project following her party’s defeat in the provincial election.Good, but I have zip faith in any investigation. In Cavemen Canada, law-violating corporations like Encana and Sio Silica, and their enabling “regulators” and politicians are found not guilty after investigations, while harmed citizens are found guilty without any investigation or evidence or trial.

Ethics commissioner Jeffrey Schnoor confirmed he is already deep into the first formal probe held under the terms of the amended Conflict of Interest Act, which was proclaimed Oct. 3, the day after last fall’s election. Schnoor noted that as a matter of law, all complaints filed with the ethics commissioner must be fully investigated.Ya, I can read the final findings, without the findings being completed: No ethics breach, perfect innocence, as fucking usual.

He confirmed that although the act requires him to suspend an investigation if the subject MLA resigns their seatslick way for dirty politicians to escape “justice.” It’s beyond corrupt, it can be resumed with a written request from either the complainant or respondent.

There had been concerns circulating in political circles that the Progressive Conservative MLA’s announcement she was resigning her seat would quash the ethics probe.

A caucus spokesperson confirmed Monday that NDP MLA and caucus chairman Mike Moyes, the author of the original complaints, would be contacting Schnoor to ask the probe continue.

“We filed this complaint because this is an important matter that Manitobans deserve to have answers about,” said Moyes. “Heather Stefanson and (former cabinet minister) Jeff Wharton should be open and honest with Manitobans about what took place. We’re committed to pursuing this investigation even if Heather Stefanson resigns.”I’ve been watching provincial and federal politicians in Canada for decades and have yet to see open honesty

Moyes filed complaints against both Stefanson and Wharton in January, alleging they violated ethics rules by asking outgoing cabinet ministers to issue an environmental licence to Sio Silica, the proponent of a controversial silica sand mining project southeast of Winnipeg.

Both Kevin Klein, the former environment minister when the PC government was defeated, and Rochelle Squires, the then-acting environment minister, said they were pressured by Wharton to issue a licence to Sio Silica before the Tories formally handed over the reins of government to the NDP. Both ministers refused.

Squires wrote in a December Free Press column that Wharton claimed the project was of significant importance to Stefanson but, because of a conflict of interest, the premier couldn’t make the directive to the Clean Environment Commission for a licence to be issued.

Wharton has never denied speaking with Klein and Squires. He has denied asking them to issue a licence to Sio Silica or telling anyone that Stefanson had a conflict of interest with the company.

“All PC MLAs are prepared to cooperate with the investigation,” said interim Tory Leader Wayne Ewasko.but, when it comes down to it, I bet they’ll balk, and delay, and lie and lie some more.

The Alberta-based Sio Silica’s proposal has been hotly debated, both because of the potential negative impact it could have on the aquifer in regions east of Winnipeg, but also because of the project’s political orientation, which has involved a plethora of high-profile PC supporters. The project was shut down in February by the NDP based on a review of the environmental risks and economic impacts.

Sio Silica CEO Feisal Somji could not be reached for comment.

Wharton’s efforts to have the project licensed was during the so-called “caretaker” period when outgoing governments are in the formal process of transferring legal authority to a newly elected governing party. By tradition, outgoing members of executive council do not make any significant or impactful decisions during the time before the new government is sworn in.

Sio Silica sought to take its company public, working with a new partner to prepare an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. Documents outlining the IPO, filed with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission, indicated the venture was wholly dependent on getting an environmental licence to mine sand in Manitoba.

The Conflict of Interest Act is largely concerned with whether members of the legislative assembly have failed to disclose, or have tried to provide help to, outside business interests.

RM of Springfield Mayor Patrick Therrion wouldn’t comment on the allegations other than to say: “I believe in the system and I’m sure the investigation will do its due diligence to determine what happened.”

Once Schnoor has finished his investigation, a report must be made available to the speaker of the legislature, who in turn must table it in the legislature.

Penalties for contravention of the act range from a formal reprimand to a fine of up to $50,000, a suspension from the legislature or forcing the offending MLA to vacate their seat.

Tangi Bell, a member of Our Line In The Sand, a group of area citizens who were opposed to the mine, said she is still hoping for more than an ethics probe.

“There are limits to the ethics commission,” Bell said. “I would like to see an inquiry. We need to start looking at how this was enabled and how a project like this could even be considered.”

Refer also to:

Dr. Sandra Steingraber @ssteingraber1:

We like to say water is the agent of fracking but its partner in crime is sand. Water is the firehose that blows apart the shale and blasts grains of silica sand into the shards to release the gas/oil. Silica sand has to be mined. Silica dust is a known human carcinogen.

Silica dust exposure also sets off a lung-destroying disease called silicosis. The 9th ed. of the fracking science compendium contains a whole chapter on sand mining and public health risks to workers and communities. I wrote it myself. Check it out!


Vivian Sio Silica Sands Page, Manitoba

Manitoba says “NO!” to Calgary’s Sio Silica Corp

2024 02 17: BRAVO! Wise Manitoba gov’t says no to Calgary’s Sio Silica (CanWhite Sands) frac sand extraction at Vivian after ousted PC’s reportedly tried to sneak in approval for the invasive, health-harming, aquifer-destroying project after losing the election.

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