Ottawa

Police won't use force on Sharbot Lake protesters: Algonquins

Ontario Provincial Police have pledged not use force on protesters blocking the site of a potential uranium mine in eastern Ontario, Algonquin leaders say.

Ontario Provincial Police have pledged not use force onprotesters blocking the site of a potential uranium mine in eastern Ontario, Algonquin leaders say.

Police met with Algonquin officials Tuesday to discuss a court order issued Monday ordering protesters to leave the site and giving police the authority to remove them.

The protesters, mainly from the Ardoch and Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation, have occupied the site near Sharbot Lake, about 60 kilometres north of Kingston, since June. They are trying to stop Frontenac Ventures, a mining exploration company, from doing test drilling for uranium because they fear mining could damage their ancestral lands.

OPP Insp. Gary McPherson provided reporters with few details about the plans discussed at the meeting.

"We were accepted into the community here to have a community meeting and we had an open discussion," he said.

Robert Lovelace, retired chief of the Ardoch First Nation, said police pledged at the meeting not to come in the middle of the night and not to use force to remove protesters.

"But they're waiting for clarification from their legal department as to what they can do," he said.

The judge's order came after Frontenac Ventures initiated court action against the protesters, including a $77-million lawsuit and a request for an injunction to give the company full access to the site.

But Neil Smitheman, lawyer for Frontenac Ventures, said the courts can only do much to help resolve the dispute. "And now it's up to police to restore order," he said.

Many non-natives who live near the potential mine site have joined the Algonquins to lend their support in wake of the new court order. On Tuesday, they were busy erecting a tent city at the site.

Harold Perry, an honourary chief of the Ardoch First Nation, said so far the relationship between protesters and police has been peaceful, but he wonders whether that will last.

"If the word comes down from above to take us out," he said, "then they have to do that. It's their job"

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