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Mining probe meeting doesn't go as planned

A meeting where Steelworkers Local 6500 president Rick Bertrand was hoping to sort out details of a mining safety probe didn't exactly go as planned. He was supposed to meet with Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi in Toronto Sept.
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Steelworkers Local 6500 president Rick Bertrand is seen here at the February 2012 press conference where the union demanded a mining inquiry after the deaths of Vale miners Jordan Fram and Jason Chenier. File photo.
A meeting where Steelworkers Local 6500 president Rick Bertrand was hoping to sort out details of a mining safety probe didn't exactly go as planned.

He was supposed to meet with Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi in Toronto Sept. 5, but it turned out the minister wasn't at the meeting.

“I guess it was a miscommunication somewhere on their part that he was going to be there,” Bertrand said.

He did meet with some of Naqvi's senior staff members, and Bertrand said the gathering was positive. They discussed the province's proposal for a mining probe.

Given that Naqvi wasn't at the meeting, Bertrand said he'd like to meet with the minister at a later date.

“They accepted that and they understood,” he said. “We told him that Naqvi should be there. He's an important part of this discussion.”

While Local 6500 and a community committee called Mining Inquiry Needs Everyone's Support (MINES) have been pushing for a full inquiry into mining safety in Ontario, the province wants to hold a less-extensive review.

Despite the province's position, Bertrand said the union is continuing its lobbying efforts for a full inquiry. He said he's still keeping the contents of the province's proposal confidential.

He said he's not sure when the meeting with Naqvi will take place, saying it could be in a week or even a month, for all he knows. Bertrand met previously with Naqvi Aug. 15, and with Premier Kathleen Wynne Aug. 30.

Although going into this week's meeting he thought an announcement about a mining probe could be coming soon, he's now not so sure. “I can't really say until we have that meeting,” Bertrand said.

Heidi Ulrichsen

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