Pt 2: The Powerless - Documentary - It takes courage to tilt at a windmill. And perseverance to keep doing it again and again. This morning, we have a story about a contemporary Don Quixote ... a man who has been tilting at windmills for years. The difference is that sometimes he succeeds. His name is Clive Stafford Smith. He is a lawyer and a human rights activist who takes on cases that pit him against some of the most intractable legal regimes in the world.
Today's summer guest host was David Michael Lamb.
It's Tuesday August 11th.
A large statue of Vladimir Lenin -- the founder of the Soviet Union -- fell to pieces in Belarus, killing the man who was climbing on it.
Currently, This is the 15th fatality linked to unstable allegories since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
This is The Current.
Alliston Aquifer - Protest
Across most of Canada, there's a lot more in your groundwater that just H20. Depending on the location and the hydrology, there's a long "may contain" list in aquifers and other freshwater sources. There are minerals, heavy metals, industrial discharge, traces of pharmaceuticals, agricultural run-off such as pesticides and fertilizer, and all manner of other pollutants.
And that's what makes the Alliston Aquifer so special. It's in Simcoe Country, north of Barrie, Ontario. There's almost nothing in this aquifer but H20. William Shotyk is a Canadian geochemist who teaches at the Institute for Earth Sciences at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. A few years ago, he tested the water from the Alliston Aquifer and compared its purity to ancient, Arctic glacial ice. We aired a clip.
In the wake of his testing, the water from the Alliston Aquifer has been hailed as the purest water ever tested on earth. The speculation is that the remarkable purity is owing to the landscape above the aquifer. Picture it: towering hills made of glacial debris such as gravel and sand, along with soil that functions as a brilliant natural filter ... it removes impurities from the rain and meltwater from snow as it percolates through the ground.
But there's something else on the landscape now ... something that a growing number of people fear will contaminate their pristine water source. The North Simcoe Landfill, also known as Site 41, is scheduled to open this fall. It will ultimately hold up to 1.6 million cubic metres of garbage and cover 20 hectares of land ... right on top of the Alliston Aquifer. The Ontario Ministry of Environment refused to give the green light for the landfill in 1990. But it did give its approval in 2006. We heard from Cindy Hood, the district manager with the Ministry of Environment in Barrie.
Ontario's Ministry of Environment says it will not review its approval of Site 41. This despite scathing criticisms from the province's environment commissioner and protests from opponents, including environmentalists and water activists, First Nations, retirees, local citizens and farmers. They've been holding rallies attended by more than a thousand people to protest Site 41 including such big names as David Crombie, a former Toronto Mayor and Progressive Conservative cabinet minister.
Ten people, including three senior citizens, face charges for violating a temporary court injunction to stop protesters from blocking the entrance to Site 41. The blockade ended last weekend. Work on preparing the landfill site proceeds, and a court will rule later this week on whether to extend the injunction.
Vicki Monague has been charged with mischief and intimidation in connection with the blockade. She's a member of the Beausoleil First Nation on Christian Island in Georgian Bay, just off the coast from the aquifer. She's also been one of the most vocal opponents of Site 41.
Alliston Aquifer - Warden
But as committed as the opponents of Site 41 are to keeping the landfill from going ahead ... Tony Guergis is just as committed to making sure it becomes operational. Tony Guergis is the Warden of Simcoe County and he was in Midhurst, north of Barrie.
The Powerless - Documentary
It takes courage to tilt at a windmill. And perseverance to keep doing it again and again. This morning, we have a story about a contemporary Don Quixote ... a man who has been tilting at windmills for years. The difference is that sometimes he succeeds. His name is Clive Stafford Smith. He is a lawyer and a human rights activist who takes on cases that pit him against some of the most intractable legal regimes in the world.
Meribeth Deen is a freelance broadcaster who prepared this documentary about Clive Stafford Smith. It's called The Powerless and it first aired on The Current last September.
Since then, Clive Stafford Smith's client, Binyam Mohammed, was released from Guantanamo Bay. Mr. Mohammed arrived in Britain on February 23rd of this year. In a statement released at the time he said, I am not asking for vengeance; only that the truth should be made known, so that nobody in the future should have to endure what I have endured.
Stay with us on CBC Radio One. Coming up next, it's Crossing Boundaries, the best documentaries from public broadcasters all over the world. This afternoon at 3 o'clock, it's Spark ... followed by The Age of Persuasion. And tonight at 10 o'clock on CBC Television, it's The National.