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PUBLICATIONThe Halifax Chronicle-Herald
DATE Saturday June 26, 1999

MacLellan blames NDP for protest near home

Sydney - Premier Russell MacLellan is accusing the New Democrats of orchestrating the protest across the street from his home.

"Really what this is is an NDP sleepover," the premier said Friday at the Sydney airport.

"It's to throw as much chaos into the campaign. It's the NDP way of proceeding, to take people's attention away from the real issues."

But protester Ada Hearn denied politics was playing a role in their fight to get the province to buy more homes from people who live near the Sydney tar ponds and coke ovens site.

"Russell's a pinhead," she said while standing in front of the 13 tents set up in the vacant field across the street from the premier's remodelled Victorian home.

"This is a perfectly clear example of what toxic waste does to somebody, when they think like (the premier)."

A spokesman for NDP Leader Robert Chisholm said the leader "did not want to dignify" the accusation with a response.

Ms. Hearn said the Liberals should have thought about the timing of their decision to stop paying Ann Ross's hotel bill last Saturday after 37 days. Ms. Ross was the first to camp out across from the premier's home, but she ended her three-day protest Monday.

"If they were worried about the election, they . . . should have worried about it then," Ms. Hearn said.

Ms. Ross, whose home is contaminated with arsenic, pulled up her tent stakes Monday night after she was not permitted to bring in a portable toilet on the vacant lot. She has reluctantly returned home.

But some of her neighbours are continuing the camp-out.

The group has set up tables, signs and a 900-litre inflatable pool for their children.

Protester Susan Mirao was upset local fire departments wouldn't fill the pool with water. She said she thinks no one wants to cross the premier.

"These little kids . . . will suffer in the heat because they're playing their political games and they're taking it out on the children," she said.

Ashley Steel, 15, said she's also concerned about how the younger children will fare in the heat. The temperature Friday was in the mid- to high 20s.

The premier has no plans to speak to the group.

"There's nothing to talk about now. I won't be rude to them, but I mean it's not about health concerns."

Mr. MacLellan said he thinks the first protester, Ms. Ross, was genuine, but he dismissed the second camp-out as politically motivated.

He said he will meet with Environment Minister Michel Samson today. The province has already offered to buy 24 homes on Frederick Street and Curry's Lane to create a buffer zone and test area for toxins that have migrated from the coke ovens.

"I can't promise anything," Mr. MacLellan said.

"I don't want to get into a commitment during an election campaign. I don't want this to become an election issue."

Some residents have said they want money to do their own independent testing. But Mr. MacLellan, who also campaigned in Shelburne on Friday, said a comprehensive study is being carried out.

"It takes a long time to put all these things in place and to do the job. This is going to take place over years. It's going to be thorough and it's going to be very detailed."

The premier said his neighbours are upset about the demonstration.

With Cameron MacKeen, provincial reporter, and Brian Medel, Yarmouth Bureau

Community at large takes charge

To the Editor:

It is refreshing to see a local business association taking the initiative to host an experienced international group to discuss with the community clean up of the Sydney tar ponds. It has been said over and over again that Sydney Tar Ponds are not complex and unique to the point of baffling expert international firms the likes of Illinova Resource Recovery.

Mr. John LaLanne, vice-chair of the Business Improvement District Commission in Sydney stated he would like to see the process started, meaning a cleanup of the tar ponds. It is about time that the community at large demand an end to the diddling a round" and select a method to clean up that smelly eyesore which is hurting every aspect of our beautiful island and its people.

What needs to be done about the coke ovens site may take a little more time. However no action on the tar ponds is no longer acceptable.

So if the currently-designated community stakeholders committee is going to clean up the tar ponds, then please get on with the job. Letís have timelines and dates: when is the clean up starting, when is it projected to end.
Yours truly,
Community Alliance spokespersons:
John Kingston, Fran Morrison, John Morrison

Read about the new
Community Alliance

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