Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium (CCAMU)
Inquiry on the Impacts of the Uranium Cycle
An attempt to make points not previously noted
Chairperson of Council of Canadians, Peterborough and Kawarthas chapter
and Peterborough Health Coalition
TRADE AND INVESTMENT AGREEMENTS|
Over 80% of Canadian uranium production is exported. This situation reveals Canada's 'Export Frenzy'. The Canadian economy is export driven, particularly so for natural resources such as energy. Exports are fine for agriculture and finished products for personal use, but a line has to be drawn when non-economic costs are involved, particularly for health and safe drinking water.
Sorry, but this export frenzy will be very tough to halt! NAFTA and WTO effectively protect private investors by removing trade barriers, specifically inhibiting governmental action that restricts corporate profits, and preventing a halt to export trade once it has begun. Pay particular attention to the rules maintaining export trade and the limitations on restricting it, even for humanitarian reasons. Thus, we need GOVERNMENT ACTION to stop uranium mining, which will take considerable political courage that will only arise if the pressure to be so comes from US.
Exports and government inaction can be expected to be etched in stone with developments from the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) involving Canada, United States and Mexico. These current negotiations will likely lead to the harmonization and streamlining of regulations among the three nations which should provide further protection for exports and access to Canadian natural resources. On the horizon is a continental resource pact where Canada will play a particularly strong role given its wealth of natural resources, particularly energy. The Canadian business community has been salivating to include this give-away ever since 9/11 when there were threats from U.S. to restrict border trade in the interests of security. The negotiations have been conducted in absolute secrecy - dangerous because we are well aware of the inclination of the Harper government to appease U.S. and develop a North American economy, be an 'energy superpower' and consequently downgrade the importance of the natural environment.
Another danger! NAFTA and WTO protect foreign investors, so if we can keep foreign corporations out of the domestic mining industry, the restrictive rules would not apply. Thus, keep American corporations out of uranium mining. However, if such an agreement is made WITHIN CANADA, then Canadian investors would receive the same protections they do not currently receive. It's coming!!! Alberta and British Columbia have already signed an agreement, TILMA, that will in its present form protect investment as with NAFTA and WTO. Quebec and Ontario are talking about such an agreement. There is a current working group analysing interprovincial trade possibilities in Ontario. The federal government has indicated impatience that there is no such agreement among all provinces. Such an agreement to include Ontario may very well be made unless we prevent it. Council of Canadians and several Ont. chapters are working on just that.
In areas where there is mining tourism will obviously be deterred. In rural areas the natural environment is often the primary attraction. Small business suffers when residents and tourists move away. Large corporations, instead, make the profits which are sent elsewhere. There is a perception that the Provincial Liberals are an urban party, with little rural interest. Uranium mining and wholesale licensing support that view.
Instead, economic gains are promised when mining operations arrive. So, who are the occupations and people who stand to gain:
- radiologists! (to detect cancers)
- medical specialists, such as in internal medicine, palliative care
- nurses - growth in alternative living care, complex continuing care, long-term care
homes, home care
- engineers, health officials, safety specialists (for tailings), lawyers (corporate,
environmental, occupational, plaintiffs)
- capital markets
- weapons and defence industry (as Canada continues to adopt a more militaristic
foreign and defence policy)
- estates, heirs - people die earlier
- cemeteries and funeral homes and any innovative business for the chronically sick
- investors and shareholders, who of course live elsewhere
HEALTH CARE POLICY
The provincial government is to be praised for attempting to shift health policy, as much as possible, from the medical model, where you treat the sick after the fact, to
a health protection model involving lifestyle, environmental protection, earlier testing,
school nutrition - particularly in the guidelines provided for LHINs. This is PREVENTION
which is healthy, productive and very cost effective. Uranium mining is in direct contradiction to this developing health care model. Illnesses will proliferate so medical treatment will follow, primarily in hospitals which are the institutions that the government is trying to keep people away from. For health policy alone, Ontario should maintain a moratorium, at least, on uranium mining.
Uranium mining will create profits for minority interests. Economic statistics, such as the GDP, will likely rise, pleasing the government, perversely. If GDP arises, but there are horribly accompanying costs - social, health, environmental - then the government has proclaimed that economic statistics are more important than what is healthy, ethical and morally right. The provincial government must act now, not later, to end uranium mining in Ontario to keep its promises regarding public and preventative health, environmental health and the maintenance of a safe rural community.