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Stop playing the blame game


Blame. It’s defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as, “to place responsibility for.” But, blame is not something you do to yourself. That, of course, would be admittance. Blame is something that is done to others, and is rarely a positive thing.
Take what is happening up in Thompson right now with the announced closure of Birchtree mine in October. Falling nickel prices forced Vale to make the decision, which will put between 150 and 200 people out of work.
The company admitted that it has been in a "prolonged down cycle" for some time and that Birchtree, the smallest of Vale’s three northern mines, is approaching the end of its life cycle as well.
But, this really shouldn’t have come as too much of a shock. The Thompson Citizen reported back in 2013 that, at that point, the life of the Birchtree mine would expire within 10 years and scheduled updates to the mine were not going to go forward. Then, in November of 2015, the company announced its plans to close the nickel smelting and refining operations in 2018, with hopes of continuing mining and milling, despite the plunge in the price of nickel. As first announced in 2010, these operations were to cease in 2015 but were prolonged after a deal was struck with the federal government.
Vale’s operations, as a whole, have already far outlasted the expected lifespan. As the company celebrated 60 years of mining in Thompson in 2016 they admitted that the original company, Inco, planned for only 25 years of operation.
The NDP, who got involved when the 2010 smelting and refining closure announcement was made by enacting the two year Thompson Nickel Belt Sustainability Act, are now looking to Manitoba’s Conservative government to take the same type of drastic action. But, where were they in 2015 when Vale re-announced the closure?
It’s easy to be on the outside, pointing fingers and to saying what your opposition should be doing while comparing it to what they aren’t. It is also easy to look for someone else to solve a bigger problem.
The situation reminds me a little too much of the Tolko Industries closure announcement in The Pas last fall. This was going to impact about the same amount of people as the current closure in Thompson, and everyone looked to the government to solve their issue. But, they didn’t run in with armloads of money to just put a bandaid on the situation. Those affected formed a group, took control and found a solution that worked best for everybody – no time was wasted on blame.
We all know the provincial NDP aren’t the only government that likes to blame. It happens on all levels of government and with individuals who think they know the best way to handle a situation but don’t have the power to make the change.
So, maybe instead of making accusations and looking to the next person to clean up our messes we should work together to find solutions to problems and end the blame game.