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BLOG (André Clement): What is FONOM Serving?

Monday, June 1, 2015 16:28
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The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) is holding its annual conference here in Sudbury from May 6 to 8. FONOM says its   “…mission is to improve the economic and social quality of life for all northerners and to ensure the future of their youth.”

However, two of FONOM’s 2014 resolutions do not improve the long-term social quality of lives or ensure the future of its youth.

In 2014, Ontario’s Attorney General introduced Bill 83, the Protection from Public Participation Act, to protect the public’s right to participate in debates and discussions on issues that affect their lives. The FONOM resolution said the act “… would create a climate where radical activists can make false claims about a company without impunity and hurt northern economies…” and urged the Government of Ontario to reconsider Bill 83. In other words, without Bill 83, deep-pocketed corporations would effectively gag dissenters by lawsuits of intimidation.

Ontario’s legislation simply supported our Charter of Rights and Freedoms with its provision of free speech. With today’s concerns about Bill C – 51 and the federal government’s other inroads on our

Constitutional rights, it is astounding that our elected municipal representatives would favour corporations over the citizens that elected them and which they are sworn to serve.

FONOM also supported, “the development of the Energy East Pipeline”  since it would provide long term employment in northern Ontario and since TransCanada Pipelines Limited, “has demonstrated their commitment to pipeline safety for communities, residents and employees through safety and preventative maintenance programs.”  Regrettably these claims are false. The Pipelines’ track record is replete with ruptures and oil spills across our country and that is before they started pumping heavier bitumen that is more toxic than the natural gas the company has been mishandling to date. Moreover, employment would be limited and short lived during the repairs to the existing pipeline and almost negligible once the bitumen pumping started. The only hope for more extensive employment during the 40-year lifespan of the line would be created by toxic spills requiring massive labour and clean-up costs.

Our northern youth should be concerned about the legacy being created by FONOM. With toxic spills over their land and waters, the responsibility of paying for the clean ups and their rights to free speech curtailed, our youth must be wary of what FONOM has done for them and what it may do in the future.

Is there a dark side to an organization that seems to be functioning without the oversight of those who elected its municipal representatives? How did our elected officials get swayed from the interests of their constituents to support the corporations in matters contrary to our environment and our civil rights? Perhaps these corporations, the supporters and sponsors of these annual conferences,like TransCanada have grown too close.

André Clement

Council of Canadians, Sudbury Chapter


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