Elizabeth May: Kanesatake needs solutions to toxic waste dumping on their territory

Speaker: Ms. May
Time: 16/02/2022 18:49:48
Context: Question

Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP): Madam Speaker, I rise tonight to pursue a question I initially asked in question period late last year, December 2, 2021. The question ended up with the Minister of Fisheries. This topic that I am going to raise again tonight crosses several different departments federally. At its core, it is about environmental racism. It is about the illegal dumping of toxic waste on Mohawk territory. I cannot imagine any non-indigenous or non-Black community, because we do have an environmental racism problem in this country, allowing it.
My private member’s bill, Bill C-226, I hope will be passed soon. It is a non-partisan effort to make sure the federal government adopts a strategy to deal with environmental racism, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has done for decades.

To the specific example, my question on December 2 was, “On the Mohawk territories of Kanesatake, there is a toxic waste dump. It has been leaking harmful chemicals, and it also affects the wildlife and the fish. It is not as though the government has not said something about it.” There was a directive delivered to the toxic waste facility from the federal government November 18, 2020, to call for the toxic waste site to be cleaned up and for the dumping of toxic waste to stop. I asked the government, “Could the minister update us on what is being done to remove the toxic waste facility from Kanesatake?”

The answer came from the hon. Minister of Fisheries. I think her answer was sound, but we did not have the details. The minister said that disposing of waste in this manner is dangerous to people, to the fish habitats and fish and, “We will hold any individuals who violate this act to account.” As things progressed, it is clear that the illegal dumping continues.

The Province of Quebec allowed dumping outside the confines of the specific permit that was given in 2015 for a recycling landfill, which was what it was originally licensed for. The Province of Quebec gave that permit to G&R Recycling in 2015 and by 2016 the complaints had begun. They continued as residents nearby smelled toxic and nauseating fumes and became sickened by these fumes. Finally, in September 2020, the Province of Quebec revoked the licence. Again as evidence of environmental racism, it was not until the black ooze from this toxic waste facility began seeping onto settler culture farms outside of the Mohawk community that the province took action.

The federal government is still looking at a situation where, and these figures are just astonishing, this facility was licensed for storing up to 27,800 cubic metres of waste and it now has 400,000 cubic metres of waste or 15 times what it was originally licensed for. This is not something that should be tolerated. The community of Kanesatake is calling out for justice.

Chief and former RCMP investigator, Jeremy Tomlinson, has said that these facilities are being built, people are paying to haul the waste away and, “instead of getting rid of it at a designated site, they’re dumping it here. Think about it, they’re building on land that was stolen from us and dumping on what little land we have left. People have had enough.” I am hoping in the late show we can get to some solutions for this community.