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UPDATE: Barlow in St. John’s as Schedule 2 challenge goes to Federal Court

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow will be in St. John’s, Newfoundland just as a legal challenge – funded in part by the Council of Canadians – on the protection of freshwater goes to Federal Court there on February 27-28.

Long-time Council of Canadians St. John’s chapter activist Ken Kavanagh will also be at the hearing, as may be St. John’s-based Council of Canadians Board member Andrea Furlong.

At the Federal Court hearing, the Sandy Pond Alliance will challenge the Harper government’s Schedule 2 regulations that allow for mining companies to dump their tailings waste into freshwater lakes. SPA lawyer Owen Myers argues that the regulations are contrary to the intent of the Fisheries Act because they permit the destruction of freshwater fish habitat and unique biodiversity. Or in other words, because the Fisheries Act says it is against the law to harm fish-bearing waters, the Schedule 2 amendment should not be allowed to violate the act itself.

The ruling after the February 27-28 hearing could come weeks or months after the court date. But time is very tight, because the Vale plant that would dump approximately 400,000 tonnes of tailings annually into Sandy Pond is to be completed this year.

On March 22, 2010, when the challenge was launched, we issued a media release that stated, “Members of the Sandy Pond Alliance include Natural History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, Mining Watch Canada, The Council of Canadians, Sierra Club of Canada and a growing number of residents of the province who are concerned with the immanent destruction of Sandy Pond in Newfoundland.” Over a two-year period, the Council of Canadians has contributed $10,000 to this legal challenge.

For more on the campaign to save Sandy Pond, please see numerous campaign blogs at http://canadians.org/blog/?s=%22sandy+pond+alliance%22, our campaign web-page at http://canadians.org/water/issues/TIAs/sandy-pond.html, and the Sandy Pond Alliance website at http://sandypondalliance.org/legalchallenge/.