Areva-KIA public opinion exercise was badly flawed
In a recent story, Nunatsiaq News interviewed Barry McCallum from Areva Resources about the possibility of a vote about uranium mining in Nunavut.
Mr. McCallum is quoted saying that the last time there was something like a vote was in the winter of 2010 when Nunavummiut from the Kivalliq were asked to fill out a survey, and over 75 per cent of the people supported Areva’s proposal.
I went to an open house held by the Kivalliq Inuit Association in Baker Lake in the winter of 2010, and there were surveys for people to fill out.
They had a bunch of questions, asking people what they thought about Areva’s proposal, whether people believed it would be safe for the animals and the environment, whether people believed uranium from Baker Lake could end up in nuclear bombs, and whether people believed Areva would hire locals from the community and provide the community with economic benefits.
I also remember there were a lot of posters made by Areva up on the walls during the meeting, and a bunch of experts from Areva were there to help answer people’s questions.
I remember that during the break, the experts discussed the survey with some people. If people didn’t understand the questions on the survey, the experts helped explain them to people and gave them background information.
I am not sure if these are the surveys Mr. McCallum is talking about, but if they are, this was really different from a public vote.
Everyone from Baker Lake wasn’t present at these meetings. Also, having mining company posters up on the walls while people were filling out the survey, and having experts from the mining industry there to help people fill out the surveys, doesn’t seem like a good way to judge public opinion.
(Name withheld by request)
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