Alan Cairns, Toronto Sun, Monday, Oct. 9, 2000.
The battle to bust Toronto’s garbage-hauling plans stretched from Northern Ontario rail lines to Mayor Mel Lastman’s front lawn yesterday.
While hundreds protesting the Adams Mine dump plan littered the Ontario Northland Railway line with bags of trash, Toronto mayoralty candidate Tooker Gomberg delivered a compost bin to Lastman’s residence.
Both served as signals the garbage war is about to explode.
“Instead of dumping our garbage in someone else’s backyard, Mr. Lastman should dump it in his own backyard,” said Gomberg, a former Edmonton councillor.
As they made battle plans to crash tomorrow’s city hall vote, protest leaders warned that if Toronto tries to put its garbage in the abandoned mine, it will be embarrassed around the world.
“This will make Oka look like a Sunday picnic,” warned dump foe Pierre Belanger. “Toronto is headed toward massive civil disobedience and a confrontation with the natives. It will cause international embarrassment and tremendous cost — and taxpayers should take notice.”
Belanger said a blockade of the rail line last week near Kirkland Lake was only the start.
After rallying with about 500 supporters in the farming community of Earlton today, about 100 native leaders, businessmen, farmers, municipal councillors, MPs and MPPs will board buses for a face-to-face showdown with Toronto council at tomorrow’s controversial vote.
Timiskaming-Cochrane Liberal MP Benoit Serre, Bloc Quebecois MP Pierre Brien and MPPs David Ramsey of Timiskaming-Cochrane and Gilles Bisson of Timmins will join the protest caravan.
“We want to dispel any notion that we are .. fringe elements and malcontents like Mel Lastman and Mike Harris have portrayed us,” said Belanger. “It is a whole northern society that opposed this dump.
“While he does not endorse throwing garbage on the tracks, Belanger urged Northern Ontario residents to boycott the Ontario government-operated railway because it has become “an enemy of the people.”
Timiskaming First Nations Grand Chief Carole McBride has asked Lastman for “a few moments” to address council.
But Lastman said: “Nobody is permitted to address the council now because we are in session.”
“The garbage issue is for members only to debate because public consultation has finished. (McBride) should have come before the council to give his objections at least three months ago. All McBride is trying to do is indulge in delay tactics.
“But enough is enough. We have to do what is right for Toronto and this plan will not hurt anyone,” said Lastman. “The nearest people are some 80 miles and more away from the site, so I cannot see how it can affect them. Seven studies costing $148 million have been carried out over 10 years by geologists and each report has said the site is safe.
“The Adams Mine scheme will also create 80 much needed jobs for First Nations people in the area,” Lastman said.
— With files from David Miller