Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad
Union wants Witte-free zone

Former Royal Oak prez making a comeback

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 05/01) - How much resentment is there here for the former owner of Royal Oak Mines? Even the prospect of Peggy Witte's return makes people angry.

NNSL Photo

Margaret Kent: She used to be Peggy Witte

Few people have forgotten how Witte, who has changed her name to Margaret Kent, left the city, territorial government, workers and suppliers in the lurch when her company went into receivership in 1999.

Former Giant Mine worker Steve Petersen, and Canadian Autoworkers plant chair, said the North should be declared a Peggy Witte-free zone.

I urge residents of the territories to ... mount a campaign to, once and for all, rid ourselves of Margaret Kent and her ilk, Petersen said.

Witte is now one of the principals in a company that hopes to do exploratory drilling at the abandoned Pine Point mine.

An application from the Kent Burns Group , of which Peggy (Witte) Kent has an interest in, is currently being considered by the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board.

The most lasting legacies Royal Oak left for the North are the environmental messes of Giant and Colomac mines.

The cost of cleaning up those properties, anticipated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, became the responsibility of Canadian and territorial taxpayers when Royal Oak went into receivership.

City councillor Ben McDonald said Royal Oaks legacy of environmental damage is still a bad taste in my mouth.

McDonald said he is not confident current laws will prevent such environmental damage from occurring again.

Witte incurred the wrath of most unions in town when she hired replacement workers during a strike at Giant in the early 1990s.

When the company went bankrupt workers at the mine discovered their pension had been underfunded.

McDonald said because legislation hasn't changed hes confident the same thing would probably happen again.