The company behind a controversial Flamborough quarry plan says it will subpoena members of the Liberal cabinet to show that the province turned down the proposal in order to ensure Ted McMeekin's seat.
St. Marys Cement says it will call Premier Dalton McGuinty and two ministers in a judicial review of the decision to kill the proposed quarry.
The company alleged in a statement this week that the province killed the proposal in 2010 because it wanted McMeekin to keep his seat in the next election.
“The judicial review will help determine whether the government acted improperly in cancelling a quarry in the riding of Liberal MPP Ted McMeekin in advance of the 2011 provincial election,” St. Marys Cement said in a media release.
The company has also filed a NAFTA claim seeking damages of at least $275 million.
Ordinarily, sitting members cannot be subpoenaed. But the prorogation of the legislature this month provides a window of opportunity, St. Marys Cement says. It plans to force McGuinty and ministers Jim Bradley and Rick Bartolucci to testify.
The Liberals' decision “will prevent the Hamilton area from achieving much-needed jobs, and may add hundreds of millions of dollars to Ontario's deficit.”
A group of Flamborough residents, as well as local municipal governments and health units, were against the quarry, said McMeekin, MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale. He dismissed the idea that the quarry decision was political opportunism.
“It had nothing to do with saving my seat and everything to do with representing my constituents,” McMeekin said.
The province ruled in April 2010 to halt the massive limestone quarry, located near 11th Concession East and Milborough Townline. It cited environmental concerns and potential harm to groundwater.
“They don't have the zoning for a quarry,” McMeekin said. “It's on environmentally sensitive lands in an area that currently would have restricted uses. They want to override all of that and made some investments predicated on the belief they could do that, and it was unsuccessful.”
It was “poor planning coupled with belligerent threats to people, and this would be the latest,” he said.
Graham Flint, founder of the community group Friends of Rural Communities and the Environment, said the quarry battle has been going on for nine years.
“St. Marys is trying to twist this into a political decision,” he said. “It's outrageous and an insult to those hundreds of professionals who evaluated the project.”
St. Marys served a notice of application in May 2011 to review McGuinty's decision to issue a Minister's Zoning Order and a Declaration of Provincial Interest to stop the quarry.
The province applied to have the application dismissed, which was rejected. The government has appealed, St. Marys said in its release.
The company filed a Freedom of Information request but has not uncovered scientific evidence that the quarry would compromise the watershed, water quality or wetlands, it said.