May 26 "Inexcusable" for Chris Stockwell to Ignore Evidence that Adams Mine Pits Are Leaking
May 25 MOE Ignored Evidence That Adams Mine Pits Leak
May 21 Mad Stockwell Jumps on Border Glitch to Create Crisis for Adams Mine
May 17 Dump Promoter Convicted of Tax Evasion
May 16 Video of Harris raises dump questions: NDP
May 14 Dump King Returns: Harris Meets Cortellucci's Over Secret Adams Mine Deal
May 9 Developer's Tory party ties run deep - Caught in controversy over land deal
May 8 Legal Battle Raises Questions About Cortellucci's Adams Mine Deal
May 8 Mine land deal would benefit Tory donor, MPP says
Government accused of secret land deal
"Inexcusable" for Chris Stockwell to Ignore Evidence that Adams Mine Pits Are Leaking
Toronto -A northern farm leader has accused Minister of Environment Chris Stockwell of promoting a revival of the Adams Mine garbage dump while ignoring evidence that the Adams Mine pits are leaking. The charge was made by John Vanthof, president of the Temiskaming Federation of Agriculture (TFA), at a press conference held today at Queen's Park. Vanthof says the TFA had approached the Minister with evidence showing that "hydraulic containment" - the continual inflow of water into the pits -- had failed. Hydraulic containment is needed to prevent leachate from escaping into the surrounding groundwater through the numerous fractures in the rock. Stockwell ignored this evidence even though a respected hydrogeologist had reviewed it.
"This site is supposed to maintain hydraulic containment [of leachate] for 1,000 years," stated John Vanthof. "Our evidence shows that hydraulic containment has failed now after only 12 years. We brought this evidence to the Minister of Environment and he basically told us to 'buzz off.' When the Minister of Environment is telling farmers in our district to buzz off over our concerns about the groundwater contamination, we have a real problem."
After being rejected by Stockwell, the farmers brought their evidence to Premier Eves. He also ignored their concerns. As a result, they have hired Dr. Ken Howard, the hydrogeology expert from the Walkerton inquiry to review the new evidence collected. Once this evidence has been reviewed the TFA will demand that the Certificate of Approval at the site be lifted.
John Vanthof stated his concern that the farmers have been forced to handle the job that should be the function of the Ministry of Environment. "It was irresponsible of Minister Stockwell to reject, out of hand, evidence about the safety of this site. This is Our Ministry. He is Our Minister. It is the Minister's job to ensure this site is safe It shouldn't have to fall to farmers to hire experts to prove that our groundwater will be safe."
Last week, Minister Stockwell had threatened to take over Toronto's garbage contract and reopen the Adams Mine site after garbage was stopped for a few hours by a Mad Cow scare at the border. The Minister also campaigned during the recent Conservative leadership run on opening Adams Mine with public money.
MOE Ignored Evidence That Adams Mine Pits Leak
A press conference will be
held on Monday morning at Queens Park to reveal that Chris Stockwell
and the Ministry of Environment ignored new evidence that shows that the Adams Mine pits would
pose a risk to surrounding groundwater if approved as a waste site. The evidence was collected during a monitoring program conducted by the Temiskaming Federation of Agriculture (TFA) over the last year. The evidence shows that the claims made by proponent at the time of the EA hearing were incorrect. Those claims – based on computer generated models -- were the entire basis of the site being approved by the Ministry of Environment in 1998.
This evidence has been reviewed
by independent experts including Ken Howard (the hydrogeologist
from the Walkerton inquiry), Dr. Larry Jensen (former provincial geologist for the Adams Mine region) and respected hydrogeologist Paul Bowan.
The TFA will reveal how they brought this information to the Minister of Environment in order to open a discussion with the Ministry. The Ministry, however, refused to hear the evidence. The TFA then brought the evidence to the Premier. He has not responded.
The Adams Mine is now being promoted by the Cortellucci Group who has donated over a million dollars to the Eves team.
Mad Stockwell Jumps on Border Glitch to Create Crisis for Adams Mine
New Liskeard Environment Minister Chris Stockwell overplayed his hand by turning a border traffic glitch into a squeeze play to revive Adams Mine. That s the charge being made by northern residents after Stockwell called Toronto incompetent because some waste trucks were turned back this morning over fears of Mad Cow. Stockwell used the incident to push a Provincial takeover Toronto s garbage. This plan has been widely assumed to be a revival of the Adams Mine.
Charlie Angus of Public Concern Temiskaming says Stockwell s comments aren t surprising. He points out that the Tories have been itching for a crisis in order to divert Toronto s waste reduction plans to the waterlogged pits in Kirkland Lake. But he admits that he is surprised that Stockwell appeared so trigger- happy to step in before Toronto officials had even made an assessment of the situation.
Mad Chris seems just a little too eager to get his hands on Toronto s garbage business, says Angus. He s been looking for a crisis to get Adams Mine back in the play. But I think the Mad Cow incident will rank as the greatest political overreaction since Mayor Mel called in the army to shovel snow.
Last week Stockwell, an outspoken supporter of the Adams Mine, stated his intention to step into the garbage issue if a crisis arose. Such a crisis would give the Tories the political ability to rip up the existing contract with Republic Waste and turn back the clock on Toronto s 2010 reduction plan.
I find it ironic that Stockwell as Minister of the Environment calls the City of Toronto incompetent for trying to develop a long-term reduction and recycling plan. Meanwhile Stockwell has been pushing a discredited plan that could threaten the groundwater of Temiskaming farming region.
The Adams Mine plan
has been the source of major controversy because the badly-fractured rock
pits are sunk 300 feet into the water table. No liner would be built to
protect the groundwater. In fact, the plan estimates that of 360 million
litres of groundwater a year to be contaminated washing the
toxins out urban waste.
Dump Promoter Convicted of Tax Evasion
McGuinty was not in the courtroom but his lawyer Gordon Acton entered a guilty plea.
According to an agreed upon
statement of facts submitted to Justice Jean-Gilles Lebel a "number of
schemes" had been used to falsify the tax returns.
"In fact, a total of 562 personal transactions of Mr. McGuinty were claimed as operating expenses of the corporations during a two-year period ad some invoices were falsified to conceal that the expenses were, in fact, personal," said the statement.
The charges date back to the years 1996 and 1997. Mr. McGuinty has been ordered to pay the Federal government $34,000.
The conviction will not affect
his present attempt to reopen the Adams Mine project.
Video of Harris raises
dump questions: NDP
Adams Mine foes fear pressure's on for key land deal Ex-premier seen at same restaurant as project backer
QUEEN'S PARK BUREAU
A video taken by a private eye shows former premier Mike Harris heading to a meeting with a proponent of a controversial plan to ship Toronto's garbage to the Adams Mine, the Ontario Legislature was told yesterday.
Opponents of the proposal fear Harris is using his political muscle to lean on the Ernie Eves government to push through a sale of nearby land necessary to make the plan viable.
As premier, Harris was an unabashed supporter of the plan to take the city's garbage to the abandoned iron ore mine near Kirkland Lake.
"There's something a little strange," New Democrat MPP Gilles Bisson (Timmins-James Bay) said in the Legislature after viewing the videotape.
The tape was shot Wednesday by a private detective hired by a Kirkland Lake residents' group opposed to the use of the Adams Mine site as a garbage dump.
The tape shows Harris and Mario Cortellucci, a prominent developer and big financial backer of the Tories, going into the Porta Bella restaurant in Vaughan.
"Is Mr. Harris now an investor in that project? I'd like to know. Is he? Is that why they were meeting?" asked Bisson, holding up photographs of Harris and Cortellucci taken from the video.
"Is he trying to help out in the sale of the land, or the expedition of the sale of the land?"
A spokesperson for Harris, when reached by the Star, said the former premier preferred not to comment on the Adams Mine project.
It was revealed last week that the provincial government is planning to sell 2,100 acres (about 840 hectares) of crown land surrounding the Adams Mine site for $48,000, or about $22 an acre, to a group Cortellucci is involved in.
The owners of the mine site need to buy the surrounding property from the province as a buffer zone before the environment ministry would allow them to dump garbage at the open pit mine.
A proposal to ship Toronto's garbage to the site died in 2000. The city opted instead to truck it out to Michigan, where opposition to the shipments is on the rise.
With an election call expected in the next week or so, opponents of the dump fear that there is a last-minute rush to push the land sale through before the writ is dropped, just in case the Conservatives are defeated.
Charlie Angus, of Public Concern Temiskaming, said yesterday he is worried about Harris' possible role.
"I really think Harris' appearance at (the restaurant) is a real indication that there is some political muscle coming to bear on the Conservatives," Angus said.
He said his group hired a private detective after being tipped off a couple of days ago about the restaurant meeting, which he said included Gord McGuinty, a North Bay businessman.
McGuinty's Notre Development has been behind the Adams Mine project for more than a decade.
"Our concern is that things are in pretty serious straits for this government and they want to get this land deal out of the way," said Angus.
McGuinty said in an interview it was just a coincidence that he was in the restaurant having lunch with his son when Harris and Cortellucci were there.
"There was no meeting relevant to the Adams Mines landfill at the Porta Bella restaurant, categorically," he said, insisting Harris has no involvement "whatsoever" in the project.
McGuinty also emphasized Cortellucci does not own the Adams Mine.
"One of his companies is one of a number of new shareholders. I restructured."
As for the land needed as a buffer, he said Notre Development has effectively owned it since 2000 and that he put it into abeyance when the Toronto garbage deal fell apart.
"But then I decided as I'm moving forward to restructure my ownership that I want to close the deal," he said.
Angus said he doesn't understand where the renewed interest in the Adams Mine is coming from since Toronto city council has already said no to the idea.
But Environment Minister
Chris Stockwell has made no secret of the fact that he supports the Adams
Dump King Returns
Harris Meets Cortellucci's Over Secret Adams Mine Deal
New Liskeard . With the Adams Mine dump revival running into trouble, the new promoters have turned to long-time dump champion Mike Harris. The ex-premier met earlier today with investors from the Cortellucci Group at the new headquarters of the Adams Mine Rail Haul Corp. an Italian wedding hall in Woodbridge owned by the Cortellucci s. Harris was at the meeting to help sort out complications surrounding the secret sale of Crown land needed to make the Adams Mine operational.
Charlie Angus of Public Concern Temiskaming says that Harris presence at the Cortellucci meeting closes the circle on the political intrigue surrounding Adams Mine.
Here we have the man who was always the political muscle behind the Adams Mine resurfacing with the financial muscle behind the Conservative party. And the result will mean the citizens of Ontario will once again be saddled with another unwanted war over the Adams Mine, says Angus.
The Cortellucci s plan to buy up the Crown Land has run into a myriad of problems. First off, the public found out about the sale and raised an outcry over the secret sale and the shockingly low price of $22 an acre. Now the Cortellucci Group is locked into a $35 million legal battle with Canada Waste Services over the ownership of the Adams Mine site. Angus says the lawsuit has stopped the land deal dead in its tracks.
Even a government as shameless as the Eves crew can t sell buffer land to people who don t have clear title to the original property. The government has already exposed itself on this issue for being partial to its donor buddies. But they can t risk court action over selling land when the issue of title is in dispute.
Public Concern Temiskaming is calling on Mike Harris to declare whether or not he is an investor in the Cortellucci s plan to revive the Adams Mine.
Harris has never made any
attempt to distance himself from Adams Mine promoters and investors. It
s time he finally came clean with the public. And its time the Eves government
came clean over their relationship with Harris, the Cortellucci s and the
Developer's Tory party ties run deep - Caught in controversy over land deal
Proposal involves Adams Mine
KATE HARRIES AND CAROLINE
Walking into the Hollywood Princess off of the string of strip malls along Highway 7 in Concord is like stepping into another world.
The massive banquet centre is all about glamour, complete with fountains, mirrors and white columns that have served as the backdrop to countless wedding receptions and, perhaps more significantly, dozens of high-priced Tory fundraisers.
This is the world of Mario Cortellucci, the wealthy developer and owner of the banquet facility who finds himself at the centre of a political storm over the revitalized bid to use an abandoned iron ore pit near Kirkland Lake as a landfill site.
Opposition Liberals say Cortellucci and his business partners are being given a sweetheart deal to buy the land surrounding the former Adams Mine pit in exchange for years of faithful, and expensive, donations to the Tory party.
In an interview yesterday, Cortellucci, a former member of the York Region police services board, dismissed allegations that his Tory connections enabled him to become the preferred buyer of land that could become extremely valuable if a plan to ship Toronto's garbage north to the Adams Mine ever becomes a reality.
Cortellucci said he contributes money to all three political parties and to all three levels of government.
And the $48,000 being offered for 850 hectares of crown land around the Adams Mine land that a dump operator must acquire in order to fulfill conditions of a certificate of approval issued to the site in 1999 is a drop in the bucket compared to the $45 million that will be needed to prepare the site so it's ready for garbage, he said.
"Ramsay, he just wants to score points," he said of Liberal MPP David Ramsay (Timiskaming-Cochrane), who revealed details of the deal in the Legislature Wednesday. "I think we can do better than that."
He said he is just one of dozens of investors in the project and added he believes the plan to move the garbage north by rail is a good one and poses no health risks to nearby communities.
When Toronto ran out of suitable landfill space, it began shipping its garbage to Michigan. That came after a proposal to ship it north died in 2000, after years of opposition and protests from environmentalists and First Nations in the area of the mine. Now political opposition is building in Michigan to the acceptance of Toronto's garbage.
Meanwhile, the Adams Mine landfill site remains in dispute, with a bitter legal battle brewing between the top players in the high-stakes garbage industry.
The ownership of the Cortellucci Group is being disputed by waste disposal giant Canadian Waste Systems, which claims it had first right of refusal on the sale of the site.
There is no doubt Cortellucci's Tory connections run deep, as do his pockets. Since 1995, the Cortellucci group of firms have donated almost $1 million to the party and played host to one of the marquee fundraising events on the Tory calendar a dinner every fall that brings in more than $300,000 in one evening.
The $900,000 in donations to the party made up until 2001 represent the largest amount of money to come from any one company or group of companies with common ownership, outpacing even the firms owned by Peter Munk and the Barrick Gold fortune. Donations made since midway through 2001 are not yet publicly available.
Major banks, by comparison, have donated roughly between $200,000 and $250,000 to the Tories in the past eight years.
The fundraiser primarily draws developers and builders and was first championed by the late Tory cabinet minister and successful car salesman Al Palladini.
Insiders say it was Palladini, who represented the riding of Vaughan-King-Aurora, who brought Cortellucci and his business partner, Saverio Montemarano, into the Tory fold and urged Cortellucci to make friends with former premier Mike Harris.
Harris and Cortellucci were especially close, Tories say, adding the developer has yet to form any sort of personal relationship with Premier Ernie Eves.
The Hollywood Princess also hosts a string of annual fundraisers for cabinet ministers, federal Tory leaders and Canadian Alliance politicians.
In 2000, Cortellucci donated $100,000 to the Canadian Alliance under then-leader Stockwell Day, according to York University professor Robert MacDermid. On the development side, Cortellucci, along with his brother Nick, owns a string of home building companies and firms that do the excavating and grading for new subdivisions.
Legal Battle Raises Questions About Cortellucci's Adams Mine Deal
New Liskeard . Public Concern Temiskaming is demanding to know how the Conservative government can allow the sale of 2000 acres of Crown Land near the Adams Mine to a company that may not hold title to the Adams Mine property. The Conservatives had justified the secret sale of Crown Land to the Cortellucci Group on the basis of the Cortellucci s claim of ownership over the adjacent Adams Mine property. But Cortellucci s claim to title is now subject of a major lawsuit.
The Cortellucci Group have been named in a $10 million suit by waste giant CWS (Canada Waste Services) over control of the Adams Mine site. Charlie Angus of PCT says the lawsuit raises major questions about the government s attempt to sell the Crown Land at the surprisingly low price of $22 an acre.
You just can t sell buffer land to people who don t have clear title to the original property. I know the Cortellucci s are the biggest campaign donors to Ernie Eves, and I know the government has been trying to push this sweetheart deal through without any public input, but surely, the issue of who actually owns title to the land has to be addressed before any sale is allowed, stated Angus.
The CWS lawsuit alleges that dump promoter Notre Development engaged in the purported sale of the Adams Mine site to the Cortellucci Group even though CWS had a $4.6 million lien on the property, as well as a right of first refusal over any new Adams Mine dealings.
Angus says the failure of the Conservatives to address the issue of title at the Adams Mine is just the latest in a series of politically-inspired gaffes over the Crown Land deal.
There s been a smell about this secret land deal and it s not just garbage. This is a government that is hell bent on trashing public process and carrying out an unjustified fire sale of Crown Land just so that Tory developers can make hundreds of millions of dollars by bringing back the Adams Mine.
Angus says that legal
counsel has instructed PCT that it would be improper for the government
to complete this land transaction given that title to the Adams Mine property
is in dispute. The legalities of the sale will be challenged through the
Ontario Ombudsman s office.
Mine land deal would benefit Tory donor, MPP says
The provincial Tories are about to give a plum land deal to one of their major backers in a move that could revive a plan to haul Toronto's garbage to Northern Ontario, a Liberal MPP says.
David Ramsay told the Legislature yesterday the government ignored its own rules in the proposed sale of 2,100 acres (about 840 hectares) of crown land surrounding the Adams Mine site in Kirkland Lake.
Ramsay said the sale for $48,000 was to a numbered company he said was owned by Mario Cortellucci, a prominent Ontario developer.
The government was "literally bending over backwards" to accommodate Cortellucci, one of the Tory party's biggest donors, said Ramsay.
The owners of the mine site need to buy the surrounding property from the province as a buffer zone before the environment ministry will allow them to dump garbage at the mine site.
Ramsay said this makes the secret deal with a numbered company owned by Cortellucci potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
When he originally complained to the government, the sale was put on hold for a 60-day review, he said. But Ramsay said he hadn't been aware of Cortellucci's role when he first objected to the sale.
Toronto began shipping its garbage to Michigan after a proposal to ship it north died in 2000, after years of opposition and protests from environmentalists and First Nations in the area of the mine.
Ramsay (Timiskaming-Cochrane) said the Cortellucci Group of Companies has donated more than $1 million to the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, including $185,800 to the five candidates in the Tory leadership race last year, of which Premier Ernie Eves received $44,600.
In a question to Natural Resources Minister Jerry Ouellette, Ramsay cited the "secret deal" to sell the land for $22 an acre and asked: "Minister, why were you planning to sell government land to the largest donors of the PC party without any public notice and at below-market prices?"
Deputy Premier Elizabeth Witmer, replying for Ouellette, who was absent, stated that "there are various and many requests for crown land received on a daily basis and there is consideration given to many of them."
The land was the subject of an independent appraisal by an accredited land appraiser through the Ontario Realty Corporation, she said. The sale is under review, she added, and details are expected shortly.
In a phone interview, Cortellucci rejected Ramsey's allegations.
"I think he has it all wrong because I contribute to his party and all parties," Cortellucci said. "I believe in the democratic process."
The York Region developer, who was recently awarded the Order of Ontario, also downplayed his involvement.
The numbered company that owns the site and is named on the certificate of approval is a partnership, he said, and "I'm just a small investor out of 60, 70 people."
Asked how long he had been involved with Gord McGuinty, the North Bay businessman whose company Notre Development has been behind the Adams Mine project for over a decade, he said: "Not that long. I'm not involved with him 9 let's put it this way, he runs it and I'm just an investor."
McGuinty did not respond to telephone calls from the Star.
In the case of the Adams Mine, Ramsay questioned, "Why would you buy a worthless piece of property 9 three holes in the ground 9 unless you had a fairly strong indication that the deal is potentially worth billions?"
Cortellucci said he simply believes in the Adams Mine proposal, voted down by Toronto council 2 1/2 years ago.
"I believe it's an Ontario solution for the problem we have with our garbage."
"The Ontario solution" is the slogan used in a slick brochure sent out to GTA and southwestern Ontario politicians earlier this year by Adams Mine Rail Haul, decrying the cost and environmental effect of shipping the GTA's garbage to Michigan.
Yesterday, Environment Minister Chris Stockwell, who has made no secret of his support for the Adams Mine project, hinted that if the decision is his, he might endorse the plan.
He said the City of Toronto has already informed him that if, for any reason, the shipping of garbage to Michigan is jeopardized, it will fall to Stockwell to come up with a disposal solution.
"I've got a letter from the city basically that tells me, `If Michigan's closed, it's your problem, Chris.' I've got to find a solution."
Stockwell campaigned in favour of the Adams Mine plan during last year's Tory leadership race.
Meanwhile, another company is fighting for ownership of the Adams Mine site. A statement of claim filed in court Feb. 28 by waste disposal giant Canadian Waste Services portrays the Cortellucci Group of Companies as the new owner of the Adams Mine.
It seeks to quash a May 10, 2002, agreement whereby Notre "purported" to sell the Adams Mine to the Cortellucci Group, saying Canadian Waste Services had right of first refusal on the site. It also demands repayment of a $4.6 million loan to Notre.
Cortellucci would not comment on the action by Canadian Waste Services.
According to the court
document, Notre sold the Adams Mine site to the Cortellucci Group on May
10, 2002, for $1.8 million.
A major contributor to Ontario's
Conservative Party has quietly bought the Adams Mine property in Northern
Ontario and is seeking arrangements that would allow it to turn the mine
into a disposal site for garbage, Liberal MPP David Ramsay charged in the
The contributor, the Cortellucci-Montemarano Group, has bought the abandoned iron ore mine near Kirkland Lake and is attempting to buy 2,000 acres of government land surrounding it so that it can convert the mine into a landfill taking garbage from Toronto and other Southern Ontario cities, Mr. Ramsay said.
"Why were you planning to sell Crown land to the largest donators of the PC Party without any public notice and at below market prices?" Mr. Ramsay asked Deputy Premier Elizabeth Witmer.
The sale was to be made for $22 an acre, which a local antidump group, the Adams Mine Coalition, describes as "shockingly low."
Mr. Ramsay told Ms. Witmer: "If you sell them the land, they stand to make hundreds of millions of dollars. Minister, do you really expect us to believe that it is just coincidence that the largest donator to the Ontario PC party was involved in a secret deal to buy Crown land at $22 an acre?"
Ms. Witmer said the proposal to sell the 2,000 acres is under review.
"Full details of that review are expected shortly," she said.
Neither Ms. Witmer nor Natural Resources Minister Jerry Ouellette were available at the legislature to answer further questions about the Cortellucci-Montemarano Group's proposal. Premier Ernie Eves was making a campaign-style tour of Thunder Bay.
Environment Minister Chris Stockwell confirmed that the Adams Mine has received the environmental approvals necessary for use as a landfill. However, these approvals require the purchase of land around the mine site.
"All I can tell you is that they have their environmental assessment approved. Part of the terms and conditions of that assessment was that they need to assemble land around the site. I presume that's what they are doing," Mr. Stockwell said.
Sale of the 2,000 acres would violate a long-standing government commitment to consult native bands, said Beverly Chevrier-Polson, vice-chief of the Timiskaming First Nation.
"We are concerned that this sale was being conducted in secret with the numbered company that is in possession of the Adams Mine site," she said in an April 22 letter to Mr. Ouellette.
An earlier scheme to ship garbage to the Adams Mine was scuttled by public
opposition in Toronto and in the Kirkland Lake area.
However, Gordon McGuinty,
who promoted the plan, did not have the perceived political clout of the
Cortellucci- Montemarano Group, which is one of the largest contributors
to Tory coffers and which gave $185,814.11 to the five candidates for the
The Cortellucci-Montemarano Group's involvement in the Adams Mine scheme is revealed in a statement of claim filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice by Canadian Waste Services Inc., which participated in the earlier attempt to turn the mine into a garbage dump.
The statement of claim challenges the sale of the mine site by Notre Development Corp., which is controlled by Mr. McGuinty, a North Bay businessman, to a numbered company, 1532382 Ontario Inc. The sale was made on May 10, 2002. The identity of the purchaser was hidden behind the numbered company. But the statement says the sale was "between Notre and
the defendant Cortellucci Group of Companies."
Brent Swanick, listed on the statement of claim as the lawyer both for the Cortellucci Group and the numbered company, did not return telephone calls.
During last year's Tory leadership campaign, the Cortellucci-Montemarano Group contributed $44,600 to Mr. Eves through seven subsidiaries and $40,000 to Ms. Witmer through six subsidiaries. Enterprise Minister Jim Flaherty received $46,000, Health Minister Tony Clement $40,000 and Mr. Stockwell $15,000.