March 8, 1999, Cape Breton Post
Problem's not video
To the editor:
My company, Folkus Atlantic, in association with reporter
Greg Boone, produced the video The Legacy. It describes
pollution of the and explains
how these problems came to be.
Industrial Cape Breton Board of Trade members have
expressed a belief that the video will cause tourists not
to visit this area.
I think the board is missing the point. Itís not a video that
will keep tourists away; itís the tar ponds.
The newspaper article (JAG Website Concerns Board of
Trade Officials) quotes Harvey Webber saying, ďWe
thought it was to be used for its shock value to get
cleanup money from the politicians.Ē Is that a bad thing?
Once again, the video is not shocking; itís the facts
about the pollution that are shocking.
I covered this issue for years as a local reporter, as did
Greg Boone. Even so, we were appalled to discover some
of the things that exist on the coke ovens site. People
should be shocked: open piles of sulphur, contaminated
pipes exposed to air and water, leaking pollutants ó it
goes on and on.
Itís no longer acceptable to deal with pollution by burying
our heads in the sand and hoping it doesnít cause our
businesses to lose money. Thatís why my generation and
my childrenís generation have been left this legacy to
Itís nice that Folkus Atlantic has won a Canadian
Corporate Television Award for the production. But really,
what difference does that make? If the video moves
anyone into doing something to clean up this mess, then I
will be truly thrilled.
Itís easy to shoot the messenger. But even if the board
of trade succeeds in muzzling this JAG production, it canít
stop the media from reporting on it.
I challenge board president Avvie Druker, Harvey Webber,
and the board itself to redirect their efforts into fighting
for action to get this disaster cleaned up. Only when the
pollution doesnít exist will it stop causing problems,
whether itís a loved one dying of cancer or a hotel filling
Letís see these people at the JAG meetings. Letís start
seeing their letters calling upon the powers that be to act
now. Itís time to stop casting stones.
Folkus Atlantic Inc.,
Active participation in JAG cleanup work one part of business effort in community
To the editor:
I was saddened to read the letter by Ronnie MacDonald
(Put Public Health Ahead of Wallets, Feb. 27).
Mr. MacDonald lives on Frederick Street, and the
residents there have been dealt a wild card by life. The
consequences to them may prove to be severe, and I am
sure that from their perspective it is the only thing of
importance right now. The temptation to look around and
find someone to blame must be strong.
I do not believe, however, that blaming the people who
are trying to clean up this mess is helpful in any way.
The Industrial Cape Breton Board of Trade has not, as
claimed by Mr. MacDonald, ďjust latelyĒ expressed an
interest in the JAG process. The board has had a seat on
the roundtable since its inception.
Unlike Mr. MacDonald, we did not wait until contamination
surfaced in our own back yards before getting involved.
The board has been and still is committed to the cleanup
of the and to the JAG process,
but the greening of Sydney will require more than just a
successful cleanup of Muggah Creek. It will also need
meaningful work for the people who live here.
Mr. MacDonald is apparently unaware that many members
of the board have worked long and hard to bring
environmentally sound enterprises to our island to replace
our fading steel and coal industries. Many have worked as
volunteers for as many hours on that aspect of the
problem as any JAG volunteer has on the environment.
Some have provided funds from their own pockets to
advance the process.
They have done so with little possibility of personal gain
To suggest that such people are motivated solely by
monetary considerations is mean-spirited and unworthy of
the principles upon which JAG is founded. All they ask is
that their task not be made any more difficult. Of what
use will it be to clean up the tar ponds if everyone below
retirement age is forced to leave to find work? We would
have the cleanest ghost town in Canada.
Yes, letís clean up the site. But is the three minutes of
video on the JAG website required to do that? How
essential to the process is it, really?
The motion referred to in the letter was to develop and
implement an exclusion zone around the coke ovens site
by June 1. As I clearly stated in the meeting, I was in
favour of the motion, except for the date, which is
The result of this date being included will be that the
government will cobble up a hasty set of guidelines to
meet it ó or, more probably, ignore the motion entirely.
Including the unreasonable date served to weaken the
motion. I felt a strong motion was required, so I voted
If in the future Mr. MacDonald has any questions about
my motives or the boardís, l hope he follows JAG custom
and talks to me before misrepresenting the situation in
At the same time, perhaps he could fill me in on the
activities of the ďFrederick committee.Ē I have never
heard of such a committee within JAG, and since
Frederick Street is outside of the JAG mandate, what
does it do, exactly?