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b a c k g r o u n d . i n f o
1998...and still resolving the details

defending Ontario’s Public Lands

This is a protest CD. The artists and supporters who have come together here are opposing a process dubbed "Lands for Life" — a feel-good name created by the Ontario Conservative government, designating vast tracks of publicly-owned forests (46 million hectares; in fact, almost 50% of Ontario itself), which Mike Harris and the Tories will legally re-define and re-allocate within a few short months of this writing, by June of 1998. If the Tories get their way, they will likely hand over, irrevocably, some 90% of your forests to clearcut logging interests, and, they will give over the powers of forest regulation to the forest industry. Not unlike letting the fox guard the hen house.

• "The Ontario Government has passed a law allowing the Minister of Natural Resources to privatize management of public land, setting the stage for the forest industry to control how and when Ontario citizens can use their public forests."

• "The Ontario forestry industry currently relies on clear cutting for 94% of its annual 'harvest'."

— The Wildlands League

The Ontario Government claims it is involving the public in this critical process, yet public information, consultation, and due process have been, typically, absent. Your essential opportunity to affect the fate of the "Lands for Life" area — your public forests — is to attend the handful of Round Table public consultation forums being staged by the Ontario Government throughout the province right now, March through June.

Do not hesitate, the Tory Hand moves swiftly, quietly and deftly.

This CD is not opposing jobs for Northerners. This is not about urban versus rural, or "conservative" versus "liberal" viewpoints. Simply, there will be no stable jobs for forest industry workers in northern Ontario within the short span of 10 years, because there will be no trees. There will be fewer wood-working jobs along the way, because those go, along with the logs, to the U.S. Protecting your future and your children’s futures requires demanding sustainable communities and economic diversity — goals which are attainable, but only with government planning, foresight and commitment.

Under the present "Lands for Life" plans, there will be no future land claims negotiations for Native Peoples, nor negotiations for future parks; the June decisions are irreversible, and cannot be effectively legally challenged down the road. Resort owners and cottage owners will find their back yards decimated, with only the logging, mining and other industries themselves to turn to, because the government will no longer regulate their practices. Furthermore, forest product companies will be able to deny you access to your publicly-owned forests.

Next decade, will there be bears, wolves, bobcats, loons, owls, eagles, hummingbirds, fish, frogs....? They do not merely inhabit parks. Their existence in Ontario is on the line. They need 15%-20% of the land base of Ontario, in the 65 natural regions, to survive.

How do you define Ontario? We are forced, in one, single, swift decision-making act, to revise our economic vision and to change our economic habits — or watch helplessly, as our "Lands for Life" quickly become Lands of Oblivion.

Our future, our quality of life,our place on Earth.... Let the music inspire you to act, to fight, to dance, to sing, to be, to live.

~ Sarah Peebles, Studio Excelo

[The above views do not represent the Partnership for Public lands, but this CD supports their awareness-raising efforts. The Partnership has been created by The Wildlands League, the Federation of Ontario Naturalists and the World Wildlife Federation Canada, to inform the public about the issues at stake, as well as the government and corporate planning processes which are underway.]

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