The dicey beginnings of Ontario’s mining boom

Image copyright KeystoneUSA-ZUMAPRESS Image caption The Times recently exposed the supply chain used to manufacture iconic pickup trucks, including fake documents for Chinese parts A map Ontario’s embattled government used to approve new mining…

The dicey beginnings of Ontario's mining boom

Image copyright KeystoneUSA-ZUMAPRESS Image caption The Times recently exposed the supply chain used to manufacture iconic pickup trucks, including fake documents for Chinese parts

A map Ontario’s embattled government used to approve new mining permits using land already under mining lease had an obvious typo: a negative number.

The cancelled Tragically Hip tour helped earn the phrase “shadowy dealings” a new epithet.

Now, the man who brought that story to The Times – Jeremy Lurie – has more proof of Ontario’s ongoing knack for handling resource development.

In July, he and his investigative reporting colleagues spent six weeks looking at new rules to put limits on new mining permits.

An older map showing the area where mining began in the region featured a zero line.

The new map, approved the same day, showed that the zero line in the old map turned out to be a negative one.

So it should have been zero, it wasn’t. That meant more miners could start exploration projects, with their industrial activities in the middle of farmland and forest land that isn’t commercially viable, and presumably off the public table for decades to come.

Jeremy Lurie asked about the difference.

Mining minister Jeff Yurek said he had been “concerned” and “would have known” about the discrepancy, but “not directed” to fix it himself.

That isn’t good enough, Jeremy Lurie said.

The Times was able to track down the origins of the old map at the request of a witness to the scandal. The witness described her being instructed to go to the Minister of Conservation after a meeting between Yurek and the owner of a Saskatoon mine.

She hadn’t realised the original map had been intentionally produced to create a discrepancy and sabotage environmental protections in northern Ontario.

Video caption Theresa May in Northern Ireland

But when the witness inquired why the Ministry of Conservation hadn’t fixed the typo, she said the answer was: “We’re not going to do it because it would be really bad for our employer.”

The Ministry of Conservation didn’t reply to a request for comment on Jeremy Lurie’s story, but we did get a reaction from Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal.

“If someone has evidence of a mistake, somebody has to correct it,” he said.

We don’t know who exactly made the mistake.

But if there’s one thing we can tell you, it’s this: not everybody has such faith in British Columbia or Alberta to safeguard against the resource curse.

Leave a Comment