(Montreal) The Québec Meilleure Mine Coalition and dozens of organizations in Quebec are delighted by the news that the mining company Canada Carbon is dropping its $96 million lawsuit against the small municipality of Grenville-sur-la-Rouge in the lower Laurentians.
"This is a first citizen victory in a saga which has lasted for over two years. Congratulations, and thank you for the immense outpouring of solidarity from artist Paul Piché, author Marie Ève Maillé, and more than 150 municipalities and organizations in Quebec over the past year!" said Norman Éthier of SOS Grenville-sur-la-Rouge.
While the organizations are delighted with the announcement made late last night, they also stress that the battle is not over. Ugo Lapointe, co-spokesperson for the coalition, said, "As the Mayor said last night, this is the end of one chapter and the start of another. This project still does not have any social licence, and Quebec must change its laws so that other municipalities do not have to suffer what Grenville-sur-la-Rouge has suffered."
The $96 million lawsuit is being dropped as part of an out-of-court settlement. This agreement was presented last night at a special meeting of the municipal council and adopted unanimously. The agreement provides, in particular, that the Miller project, a graphite quarry and mine project, will have to go be sent to the Bureau of Public Hearings on the Environment (BAPE).
Mr. Ethier said, "It is a sigh of relief for citizens to no longer have to bear the weight of this first Damocles sword. We now have to roll up our sleeves to face the next steps. We would frankly prefer that Quebec learn the lessons from this whole story and put an end to the project now."
Despite the out-of-court settlement, the Quebec Court of Appeal still has to decide whether current laws allow it to declare the $96 million lawsuit as "abusive" under Quebec's anti-"SLAPP" (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) law. The decision is expected in the coming days and could set an important precedent.
Calls for Quebec to act
The municipality and the organizations are joining their voices to a dozen other municipalities and RCMs in the Outaouais region who also went out yesterday at midday.
Louis St-Hilaire of the Regroupement pour la protection des lacs de la Petite-Nation said, "As the Prefect of the regional municipality of Papineau, Mr. Benoit Lauzon, said yesterday, Quebec must be attentive to the needs of citizens and municipalities. Mining laws can no longer be allowed to take precedence over citizens, the environment and municipal laws – that is nonsense."
All are calling for Quebec to change its laws so that municipalities can protect sensitive areas in their territory, such as lakes, rivers, and tourist and resort areas, without fear of costly lawsuits from unscrupulous mining firms.
Many other organizations support Grenville-sur-la-Rouge. Their statements may be found here.