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Charlie Angus: The struggle against the Adams Mine dump proposal


Charlie Angus has been the Member of Parliament for Timmins-James Bay since 2004 and was a leader of the Adams Mine Coalition, a grass roots citizens group that successfully fought a proposal to use the Adams Mine pit 11 kilometres south of Kirkland Lake as a dump for Toronto’s garbage.

The proposal to use the former iron ore mine as a dumpsite surfaced soon after Dofasco shut it down in March 1990. It went nowhere when the New Democrats swept to power in Ontario later that year, but resurfaced five years later when Mike Harris’s Progressive Conservatives came to power.

A certificate of approval was granted to the proponent in 1998 following an environmental assessment, but a coalition of farmers, environmentalists and Indigenous people concerned about the contamination of the region’s groundwater succeeded in their struggle to kill the proposal.

In this video, Charlie describes the struggle as a “transformative moment in the history of Northern Ontario.”

Anyone interested in what it takes for a citizens group opposed to a project that threatens their environment and livelihood should pay close attention to the tactics used by the Adams Mine Coalition.

Key people with the requisite talents for a sustained struggle either volunteered or were recruited to manage media relations, conduct research and win the support of the community. 

“A very non-political population,” Charlie tells us, “became very radicalized by going to the public meetings and seeing what a scam this thing was and how fundamental questions about the safety of the water were routinely ignored by the so-called experts.”

The coalition resorted to blocking the Ontario Northland railroad tracks. They sent a delegation to Lausanne, Switzerland, to oppose the City of Toronto’s bid for the 2008 Summer Olympics and showed up in force at a raucous meeting of Toronto City Council where the vote on the Adams Mine dump was scheduled to take place.

In this video, Charlie also comments on the use of civil disobedience as a means of advocacy and shares some of the tactics that have worked to bring the concerns of Indigenous communities to national attention.