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thurs. may 20 demo: the future of ontario's forests


This Thursday, take a stand for the land - please join us for a
demonstration against the Harris government's so-called Lands for
Life/Living Legacy program. This program threatens to open up almost half
of Ontario to logging and mining. It's up to you to try to stop the Harris
government from destroying Ontario's remaining wilderness areas. There
will be street theatre, a drumming circle (bring drums!), and information
printed on tree-free hemp paper.

Thursday May 20, 5 pm
William Mall & Rideau Street, Ottawa
(between Coffee Revolution & Oregano's)

Organizing Meeting:
Wednesday May 19, 5 pm
OPIRG-Carleton, 326 Unicentre, Carleton University
(buses #7, #4, #118)

Lands for Life, or Lands for Corporations? 

(by Mike Buckthought)

On March 29, the Harris government announced a decision about Lands for
Life, its program to decide the future of forests covering almost half of
Ontario. With the announcement, another election slogan: "Ontario's Living
Legacy" is what the program is to be called now. The government claimed
that it would protect hundreds of new parks and conservation reserves, and
newspapers called the announcement "a milestone in conservation." However,
none of the new parks and conservation reserves would be truly protected
from exploitation.

There is hunting, for example. This would be allowed in all the new parks
and conservation reserves, including the two additions to existing
wilderness class parks. And taking a cue from the Ontario Federation of
Anglers and Hunters, the Harris government has established a hunter
apprenticeship program to teach 12-year-olds how to use guns.
(Recommendation 128)

All of the new parks and conservation reserves would be open to mineral
exploration. And if a mining company discovers gold or some other metal,
the protected status could be removed for a portion of a park or
conservation reserve. However, we are informed that another area of land
would be added elsewhere. As far as the government is concerned,
wilderness is just another commodity to be traded.

Wilderness that isn't "protected" in parks and conservation reserves could
be subjected to clearcut logging, under long-term logging agreements.
There would be self-monitoring by the corporations, and penalties paid by
any future government that wants to break the agreements. This would
severely limit the ability of future governments to set aside new
protected areas.

And then there is Recommendation 234, which says that the government
"should, where appropriate, dispose of Crown lands to promote social and
economic development." Ontario's Environmental Commissioner Eva Ligeti
warns about the danger of selling off public lands to industry. "The
potential for a sell-off of Crown lands is a very real one," says Ligeti
in her annual report.

Of course, much of this so-called Crown land is subject to unresolved land
claims by Aboriginals, who have been excluded from negotiations with the
government. "There are no constructive discussions with Harris on
recognition of First Nation rights. If there was ever a government that has
brought Aboriginal relations to an all-time low, it's this government,"
says Wally McKay, one of only three Aboriginal members of the Lands for
Life round tables. He resigned in July because his concerns were being

For information about the upcoming protest and how you can get involved,
please call 520-2757 or 567-7244.

OPIRG-Carleton Forestry Group
326 Unicentre, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, 
Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 5B6, Canada
tel: +1 613 520-2757, fax: +1 613 520 3989, internet: opirg@carleton.ca

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