Price to be paid for voicing views on the cleanup
Letter by Keith MacDonald
Cape Breton Post
Thurs., Feb. 10, 2005
Finally the project description
and scoping document for the Sydney
tar ponds and coke ovens
cleanup have been released for public
consideration. Government partners
want feedback, following which
a decision will be made on the type
of environmental assessment to be
On the surface, the process seems
straightforward enough and appears
to accommodate civil debate. Well,
let me offer that there is more to this
than meets the eye.
Sierra Club has drawn a line in
the sand. It opposes the cleanup as
laid out. Those who choose to differ
are in for a rough ride. I speak from
I came to Sydney a few years ago
from the west side of Cape Breton to
enroll at University College of Cape
Breton. Following graduation, I opted
to settle here despite the many
pressures to join the crowd and
migrate. My upbringing embodied
an obligation to give back to the
community, and I have endeavoured
to practice this where I can.
The importance of the tar ponds
and coke ovens cleanup has been
apparent to me for some time.
Therefore, I decided to become
involved in an effort to help move
the project along to completion after
more than two decades of debate
and study. In stepping forward, I
entered another zone - a place of
disrespectul, uncivilized behaviour.
Sierra Club feigns civility and
tolerance, but out of public view it's
an entirely different scene. This was
clearly demonstrated this week in
the lobby of the Delta Sydney where
I was publicly disparaged, intimidated
and berated by Bruno Marcocchio,
Atlantic campaigner for Sierra Club of Canada.
Those in government eliciting
the views of the community should
understand that in this otherwise
ordinary place, there is a price to be
paid for publicly voicing one's opinion
on the cleanup. Sadly, I have to
believe that because of the repugnant
antics of people such as Mr.
Marcocchio there are many who will
hold back for fear of harassment.
This indeed is unfortunate and a
grave disservice to community
youth who want to be a part of
important issues like the cleanup.