Extractive Industry Tarnishes Canada’s Reputation

Press release/Latin America and Caribbean Solidarity Network/July 31, 2012

 

On August 1st 2012, there will be a Continental Day of Action to highlight the exploitive practices of Canada’s extractive industry including oil, gas, mining of precious metals and energy resources. Close to 70 organizations representing impacted communities, labour, students, NGOs, solidarity groups, and environmental organizations in 35 cities across the Americas will conduct coordinated actions. The aim of this campaign is to raise public awareness about the negative impacts of Canada’s extractive industry on indigenous and farming communities both globally and here in Canada.

Canada is a global mining giant that leaves a massive ecological footprint on the earth’s surface.  Sixty per cent of the world’s exploration and mining companies are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. These corporations account for over 3200 projects around the world.

“We are a mining union.  We support responsible mining with well-paid jobs, good health and safety records, protection of the environment and respect for the communities, “says Ken Neumann, the United Steelworkers’ National Director for Canada. “But that is not how mining is been done in other parts of the world.”

Across Canada, on August 1st, there will be letter-writing campaigns to public forums, street protests and theatre.

This unprecedented action demonstrates the broad and collective opposition to Harpers corporate driven polices and points to a
growing and diverse coordinated hemispheric movement to hold the extractive industry accountable for systematic abuses. Increasingly, this industry, which lacks binding legislative regulation and operates under a self-regulated banner of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), is contributing to human rights violations, environmental degradation and the tarnishing of Canada’s global reputation.

As Harper said at the recent summit of the Americans in Cartagena, Colombia, “Looking to the future, we see increased Canadian mining investment throughout the Americas – something that will be good for our mutual prosperity and is therefore a priority of our government.”
Not everyone agrees with Harpers vision of prosperity.
According to Raul Burbano from Common Frontiers and one of the organizers of the Continental Day of Action, 
“It’s exactly these types of corporate-driven policies that we are confronting. Looking to the future, what many communities see is increased displacement, re-militarization, destruction of community-based  livelihoods, human rights violations, lack of community consultation, long -term health impacts and irreversible loss of biodiversity.’’

Events and actions are planned across eleven cities in Canada. In Toronto, a carnival-style solidarity event will be held at on the south side of Queens Park on August 1st from 12.00 p.m. to 2.00 p.m. Organizers across Canada will educate people about the injustices  of Canada’s extractive industry, the urgent need for legally-binding  accountability, an end to abuses and the need to put people before profits.

WHY CANADA?

• 60% of the world’s publicly traded mining companies are listed  on the Toronto Stock Exchange. These corporations account for over 3200  exploitation projects in over 100 countries. Canada is the largest stakeholder  in the resource extraction industry in the Americas accounting for 37% of the  total investment.

•Canadian financial markets in Toronto and Vancouver are the  world’s largest source of equity capital for mining companies undertaking  exploration and development.

•Canadian-based mining operations have deeply impacted  territories, communities, and life. Resource exploration and exploitation  activities have caused displacement, widespread destruction of livelihoods (compromising water and food security), caused long- term health issues ,  disregarded sacred indigenous territories and rights, exacerbated human rights  violations especially in contexts of internal conflict, and contributed to the  criminalization of artisanal miners, union and environmental activists and  community activists. Large-scale mining explorations and exploitations have also  led to an irreversible loss in biodiversity.

•Despite the fact that large-scale mining is usually presented as a driving force of sustainable development by mining companies, governments throughout the Americas, and international institutions such as the World Bank,  the long-term negative impacts on peoples and territories contrast with the  vague promises of jobs, and national economic growth and development.

OUR DEMANDS:

Divestment: The Canadian government should  divest public funds from resource extraction industries. (i.e pension funds invested in GoldCorp and other corporations) and call for public funds to be invested in social programs like free education, affordable housing and universal healthcare.

 Regulation: The Canadian government should enable legislation that establishes corporate accountability standards for
Canadian corporations operating abroad. This legislation should penalize corporations linked to human rights violations and should allow foreign nationals to pursue legal action for damages in Canadian courts (Bills C-300 and C-323).

Stop Complicity: Stop utilizing public institutions to assist with high profile public relations campaigns conducted by resource extraction companies (such as the Museum of Natural History in Ottawa, Simon Fraser University, University of Toronto, York University, CIDA-funded projects such as the Devonshire initiative.

Binding Community Consent Mechanisms: That governments and courts of the region respect and adhere to the internationally recognized right of free prior and informed consent for Indigenous communities.

People Before Profit: End free trade agreements and  bilateral investment treaties that enshrine the right of corporations over  citizens and communities.

 

LIST OF ACTIONS ACROSS CANADA:

  • Toronto, Ontario- Queen Park (south side) Common Frontiers, United SteelWorkers, LACSN, MISN and other solidarity groups. A carnival type solidarity event will be held with street theatre and interactive games for the whole family www.facebook.com/events/219956138127157/
  • London, Ontario – The Latin American-Canadian Solidarity Association (LACASA) will be delivering the verdict issued by the People’s International Health Tribunal against Goldcorp to the offices of local MP’s – Susan Truppe’s office 546 King St. (at William, one block west of Adelaide, north side) @ 11:30 and Ed Holder office 390 Commissioners Rd (south, near Wonderland @ 3:00 pm
  • Guelph, Ontario Community group – Film and discussion from Mountain top removal to the mega quarry – 86 Wyndham Street N @ Today 6:30- 8-30 pm
  • Vancouver B.C – Mining Justice Alliance – Gathering outside GOLDCORP’s corporate headquarters 666 Burrard Street Vancouver, @ 4:30 PM at 666 Burrard St. www.miningjusticealliance.wordpress.com/
  • Vancouver, Sunshine Coast – Community Groups will gather at Brookman Park, Davis Bay – on the bridge across Chapman Creek @ 5 PM www.facebook.com/events/500858113263175/
  • Prince Albert, Saskatchewan – Discussion and screening of Under Rich Earth
  • Montreal, Quebec, – Le Comite pour les droits humans en amerique Latine (CDHAL) et le Project Accompagnement Quebec Guatemala (PAQG) 2055 Rue Peel @ 6 pm www.facebook.com/events/136100973197156/
  • Montreal, Quebec – Le Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie (PASC) and CLASSE- Conférences: “Des raisons de s’indigner…y’en – Les conférences auront lieu au CEDA (Comité d’Éducation aux Adultes de la Petite-Bourgone et St-Henri, 2515 rue Delisle à Montréal. Près du métro Lionel-Groulx.) @ 7pm www.bloquonslahausse.com/calendrier/conferences/
  • Quebec City, Quebec – Community groups – Gathering Latin America Park at the end of a walk from the Assemblée nationale parliament building @ 2:00PM www.reseauforum.org/grille-calendrier/node/6405
  • Fredericton, NB – Various anti-shale gas/fracking groups will rally at the Legislature grounds, corner of Queen St & St John St) (early August ) @ 2:30 www.knowshalegasnb.ca/
CONTACT:

Raul Burbano Common  Frontiers Coordinator 416 522  8615

Caren Weisbart Maritimes-Guatemala  Solidarity Network 647  466 6643

 

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