MPs not happy with comments about tar ponds

By Tanya Collier Macdonald
Cape Breton Post
Wed. Jan. 31, 2007

SYDNEY - Cape Breton MPs are seething over comments the tar ponds file was neglected when the Liberal party held power in Ottawa.

"I think it was a great sign of disrespect for the community with the way Minister Peter MacKay handled it," said Cape Breton-Canso MP Rodger Cuzner, in response to a government announcement regarding the cleanup of the tar ponds in Sydney, Sunday.

"This has been something the community has done a tremendous amount of work on."

MacKay, minister of foreign affairs and minister in charge of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, neglected to congratulate the Joint Action Group and other community organizations that contributed countless hours to the project, said Cuzner. "People who came out didn't do it for fame, fortune or for fun," he said. "This was tough."

It was a classic example of the Conservative government positioning themselves as a saviour, he said.

Bill Casey, Cumberland Colchester Musquodoboit Valley MP, asked about the announcement during question period in Ottawa, Monday. "Could the government tell the House why we can be assured that this will finally help alleviate the worries of the residents of Sydney by resolving this long-standing health issue?"

MacKay answered that "after 13 years of inaction on the file, finally we have a plan that follows the recommendations of the panel to use the safest option, involving solidification, containment and capping of contaminated soil. The residents of Sydney have waited far too long. They got nothing from the party opposite."

Mark Eyking, MP for Sydney-Victoria, said he commends the community for its efforts. "They deserve just as much credit as government for getting this done," he said.

Eyking said the community should continue to participate in the project, especially when it comes to deciding on how the remediated sites should be utilized in the future.