August 6, 2016 - No. 30

No More Hiroshimas! No More Nagasakis!
Canada Needs an Anti-War Government!

All Out to Make Canada a Zone for Peace

No Harbour for War Statement

For Your Information
Facts About U.S. Aims at Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Canada's Involvement in the Bombings
U.S. Authorizes Production of New Nuclear Bombs
to Be Based in Europe

World Social Forum in Montreal
Social Forum Opens August 9
Canada's Unacceptable Denial of Visas to Participants

Trudeau Government's Duplicity
"All Options Are Open" Approach to Mail Delivery
- Pierre Chénier -

Decisions on Northern Gateway and Trans Mountain Pipelines
Where Sovereignty Must Be Vested in a Modern Nation
- Peggy Morton -
Denial of the People's Right to Decide
- Barbara Biley -
Court Upholds Monopoly Right and Negates the Public Interest
- Peggy Askin -

For Your Information
Federal Court Overturns Approval of Northern Gateway Pipeline
Federal Government's "Deep Consultations" on
Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion

Celebration of Fidel Castro's 90th Birthday

No More Hiroshimas! No More Nagasakis!
Canada Needs an Anti-War Government!

All Out to Make Canada a Zone for Peace

Hiroshima Day 2016

On the occasion of the 71st anniversary of the first use of a nuclear weapon against human beings, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) calls on Canadians to go all out to make Canada a zone for peace that stands against all U.S. imperialist war preparations and gets Canada out of NATO and NORAD.

CPC(M-L) calls on Canadians to be on alert to the manoeuvres of the U.S. ruling elite to unite its warring factions behind a Hillary Clinton war president with their own program to "make America great again." The biggest efforts of the U.S. establishment and its allies at this time are to block the resistance movements of the people, especially their political mobilization for democratic rights and against war and aggression, in particular against U.S. preparations for a third world war. On the anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, CPC(M-L) emphasizes the internationalist duty of Canadians to ensure Canada is not a factor for war as well as to directly oppose the election of a war president and the acceleration of war preparations in the U.S.

To this day the U.S. claims that its actions on the morning of August 6, 1945, when it dropped an atom bomb on Hiroshima and on August 9 when it dropped a bomb on Nagasaki, were righteous, moral and proper. The bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima was made of uranium and killed about 140,000 people in the initial blast and, in total more than 237,000. The bomb it dropped on Nagasaki was made of plutonium and killed 8,500 people in the initial blast and eventually resulted in the deaths of more than 70,000 people due to exposure to radiation and injuries. These unprecedented war crimes had nothing to do with the fight against Japanese militarism, which was suffering defeats everywhere and whose surrender was imminent. This mass murder of civilian populations at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was instead meant as a threat to the peoples of the world, especially the Soviet Union, showing the depths of depravity and criminality to which the U.S. was willing to sink to establish its domination.

Since that time, U.S. imperialism has never accepted anything less than a nuclear advantage over all other countries, fueling a nuclear arms race and subjecting the world's peoples to nuclear blackmail. The failure to render account for its actions and the reckless U.S. drive for domination means that this threat still looms large. The U.S. imperialists' feigned concern for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation has always been tempered by the determination to retain strategic advantage and first-strike capacity in nuclear weapons over all other countries. The same is the case today, with declarations about reducing nuclear stockpiles based on its cynical calculations designed to maintain an advantage in conventional and nuclear weapons, and the U.S. government undertaking a $1 trillion program to modernize its nuclear arsenal over the next 30 years.

Repudiation of the crimes at Hiroshima and Nagasaki contributed to the profound sentiment of Canadians against the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons. This stand is so widespread that the U.S. had to remove all nuclear weapons from Canadian soil as of 1984 even though Canada played a key role in the U.S. nuclear weapons program from its beginning, including in the weapons used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Today roughly 60 per cent of Canadians live in cities officially declared Nuclear Weapons Free Zones. Despite this the Canadian government betrays the call of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Never Again! by continuing to collaborate with the U.S., including by allowing testing of nuclear weapons delivery systems and permitting vessels and aircraft carrying nuclear weapons inside Canadian territory.

As this year's anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings approached, news agencies reported that U.S. President Barack Obama is considering changes to U.S. nuclear policy in his remaining months in office. Reports say that Obama could soon announce U.S. disavowal of its "first-use" policy -- meaning U.S. nuclear weapons would only be launched in retaliation against another nuclear strike -- and abolish the "launch-on-warning" policy in which a nuclear counterstrike would be launched as soon as a suspected nuclear strike is detected. This is presented as one way that Obama could advance the "commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons" cynically announced at his April 5, 2009 speech in Prague, Czech Republic. Since the Prague speech, the U.S. has instead moved to seize the gendarme role in the monopoly over nuclear weapons, materials and technology worldwide and consolidate its status as a nuclear superpower.[1]

Protest in Seoul, Korea, July 13, 2016 against deployment of THAAD.

During this same period, the Obama regime has overseen an unprecedented expansion of anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defence systems inside the U.S., in the Pacific, aboard naval craft in the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean and in eastern Europe and now hopes to install the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in south Korea. The U.S. expansion of its ABM systems marks a dramatic escalation of the nuclear arms race as the aim of such systems is to neutralize nuclear and conventional missiles launched by other countries and maintain an advantage in any possible scenario, including where the U.S. exercises NATO's first-strike policy. This is a serious concern for Canadians with the Trudeau Liberal government laying the groundwork for Canada to join the U.S. ABM defence system under the hoax of dealing with "changing technologies and threats."[2]

On the occasion of this solemn anniversary, CPC(M-L) sends its deepest regards to the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and congratulates all those who are resisting on a world scale. CPC(M-L) calls on Canadians to stand against U.S. imperialist war preparations and to militantly oppose Canada's participation in U.S. ballistic missile defence. CPC(M-L) points out that Hiroshima and Nagasaki Never Again! will not be a reality until the world's peoples unite in action to stay the hand of U.S. imperialism. Now is the time for peace- and justice-loving Canadians to build the organizations required to establish an anti-war government that makes Canada a zone for peace.


1. "Dangerous U.S. Seizure of Gendarme Role over Nuclear Monopoly and Canadian Acquiescence," TML Weekly, June 16, 2016 - No. 24.

2. "No to Canadian Participation in U.S. Missile Defence," TML Weekly, June 16, 2016 - No. 24.

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No Harbour for War* Statement

Join Halifax Weekly Anti-War Pickets!
Fridays, 4:00 - 5:00 pm (weather permitting)
Corner of Spring Garden Rd. & Barrington St.

Let Us Together Organize and Prepare Conditions
for an Anti-War Government!

Seventy-one years ago on August 6 and 9, 1945, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki causing the instant slaughter of 200,000 people and damage from nuclear fallout which has lasted generations. The action, authorized by U.S. President Harry S. Truman, was ostensibly to end the Pacific War and save American lives.

In January 1995, the New York Times reported: "Indeed, some historians contend that the bombing was not aimed so much at the wartime enemy Japan as at the wartime ally Soviet Union, delivered as a warning against postwar rivalry."

Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral William D. Leahy was one of the people explicitly opposed to using the atomic bomb on Japan. Leahy noted: "The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender."

The Potsdam conference which was held from July 17-August 2, 1945 between the wartime allies had already secured the pledge of the Soviet Union to join the Pacific War. No sooner was the Third Reich vanquished in May 1945 than Stalin undertook to redeploy the Red Army against Japan. The Soviet Union was scheduled to officially enter the Pacific War on August 15. As it turned out, Stalin ordered the Red Army into Manchuria on August 8, a week ahead of the scheduled offensive.

All of it shows that the U.S. aim was not to end the war but to establish hegemony. Today, the U.S. nuclear arsenal is more powerful than ever. The U.S. has announced plans to spend $355 billion over the next decade to upgrade its stockpile of some 5,000 nuclear warheads -- each one many times more powerful than the bombs that were originally dropped on Japan.

No Harbour for War calls on Canadians to make the entire world a nuclear-free zone, oppose Canada's participation in U.S. wars of aggression and establish an anti-war government in Canada. On this occasion we join the worldwide commemorations for the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Our thoughts are with the people of Japan who are commemorating this event and fighting to get the U.S. military out of their country and make sure Japan does not become a warring country again.

* No Harbour for War is a Halifax-based organization that fights for the rights of all and for an anti-war government in Canada. For further information, contact

(August 5, 2016)

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For Your Information

Facts About U.S. Aims at Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Protest against Japanese Prime Minister Abe's new security laws at the Peace monument in Hiroshima August 6, 2015.

One of the controversies about how the atrocities at Hiroshima and Nagasaki are remembered concerns the U.S. aims in dropping the bombs. History as written by the victors declared that this act was necessary to force the surrender of militarist Japan and bring an end to the war. The death and destruction was a tragedy but the Japanese people themselves bore responsibility for their own suffering, so the story goes. To this day the U.S. refuses to apologize for these war crimes and on a visit to Hiroshima on May 27 U.S. President Obama did not even acknowledge that the U.S. perpetrated the crimes or why, merely stating that "death came from the sky."

What many knew at the time is that there was no military purpose behind the use of the atomic bomb. Gar Alperovitz, U.S. author of several books on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki notes in an August 6, 2015 article:

"The top American military leaders who fought World War II... were quite clear that the atomic bomb was unnecessary, that Japan was on the verge of surrender, and -- for many -- that the destruction of large numbers of civilians was immoral.

"Adm. William Leahy, President Truman's Chief of Staff, wrote in his 1950 memoir I Was There that 'the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender. In being the first to use it, we adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.'

"The commanding general of the U.S. Army Air Forces, Henry 'Hap' Arnold, gave a strong indication of his views in a public statement only eleven days after Hiroshima was attacked. Asked on August 17 by a New York Times reporter whether the atomic bomb caused Japan to surrender, Arnold said that 'the Japanese position was hopeless even before the first atomic bomb fell, because the Japanese had lost control of their own air.'

"Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, stated in a public address at the Washington Monument two months after the bombings that 'the atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military standpoint, in the defeat of Japan ' [...]

"Even the famous 'hawk' Maj. Gen. Curtis LeMay, head of the Twenty-First Bomber Command, went public the month after the bombing, telling the press that 'the atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war at all.'

"We do know that some of President Truman's closest advisers viewed the bomb as a diplomatic and not simply a military weapon. Secretary of State James Byrnes, for instance, believed that the use of atomic weapons would help the United States more strongly dominate the postwar era. According to Manhattan Project scientist Leo Szilard, who met with him on May 28, 1945, '[Byrnes] was concerned about Russia's postwar behavior ... [and thought] that Russia might be more manageable if impressed by American military might, and that a demonstration of the bomb might impress Russia.'"

("The War Was Won Before Hiroshima -- And the Generals Who Dropped the Bomb Knew It," The Nation.)

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Canada's Involvement in the Bombings

Canada played a little-known but key role in the U.S. nuclear weapons program since its inception. Canada provided uranium for the bomb used against Hiroshima, and Canadian scientists working in a secret lab in Montreal contributed to the research for the plutonium bomb used against Nagasaki.

The Canadian Council for Nuclear Responsibility (CCNR) informs that U.S. President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Churchill signed a secret agreement in Quebec City on August 19, 1943 that stipulated that the atomic bomb would not be used "against each other," or "against third parties without each other's consent." It also established a Combined Policy Committee of six to deal with the bomb made up of three Americans, two British and Liberal cabinet minister in the Mackenzie King government C.D. Howe.

Howe was therefore not surprised at the bombing of Hiroshima and had prepared a statement for the press in advance. Howe said of the unprecedented war crime, "It is a distinct pleasure for me to announce that Canadian scientists have played an intimate part, and have been associated in an effective way with this great scientific development."

The CCNR points out:

"In 1940, the British figured out how to make an atomic bomb by enriching natural uranium -- a slow, difficult, expensive process. In utmost secrecy, they asked the Americans for cooperation, and the Canadians for uranium.

"Following Pearl Harbour, the Americans took over. Uranium for the world's first A-Bombs was refined at Port Hope for the U.S. Army. At first, it came from Great Bear Lake; later, from the Congo. Some of the uranium was enriched for the Hiroshima bomb; the rest was irradiated in the world's first nuclear reactors to produce plutonium for the Nagasaki bomb.

"In 1942, the British moved their own plutonium-production research team to Montreal -- away from the Luftwaffe, closer to the Americans. Canada paid all expenses, and Canadian scientists joined the team.

"The Montreal Lab focussed on the best ways to produce plutonium for Bombs. [...]

"The decision to build Canada's first heavy water reactors at Chalk River was taken in April 1944 by the Combined Policy Committee, meeting in the office of the American Secretary of War. It was a top-secret military decision.

"According to the inscription on a large bronze plaque at Chalk River:

"'A nuclear chain reaction was first initiated in Canada on September 5, 1945, when the ZEEP reactor went into operation here at Chalk River. Originally part of an effort to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons, the reactor was designed by a team of Canadian, British, and French scientists and engineers assembled in Montreal and in Ottawa in 1942-43.'"

The CCNR also notes that "For twenty years after Hiroshima, Canada sold plutonium produced in Chalk River reactors to the American military to help defray the cost of nuclear research. And when Canada gave India a clone of the NRX reactor, India used it to produce plutonium for its first A-Bomb test in 1974."

("Canada and the Bomb: Past and Future," Gordon Edwards, Ph.D., CCNR President.)

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U.S. Authorizes Production of New Nuclear Bombs to Be Based in Europe

On August 1, the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced that it has authorized the production engineering phase of the warhead life extension program (LEP) for its airborne nuclear bomb, the B61-12. The first production of the upgraded B61-12 is planned for Fiscal Year 2020, with all remaining bombs to be adapted by 2024. Earlier reports suggest that 20 of these modernized bombs are destined for Europe as a possible "deterrent" against Russia.

According to reports, unlike the free-fall gravity bombs it will replace, the B61-12 is a guided nuclear bomb. A new tail kit assembly, made by Boeing, enables the bomb to hit targets far more precisely than its predecessors.

Using "Dial-a-yield" technology, the bomb's explosive force can be adjusted before launch from a high of 50,000 tons of TNT equivalent to a low of 300 tons.

The B61-12 will have both air- and ground-burst capability. The capability to penetrate below the surface has significant implications for the types of targets within the bomb's reach.

The B61-12 will initially be integrated with B-2, F-15E, F-16, and Tornado aircraft. From the 2020s, the weapon will also be integrated with, first, the F-35A bomber-fighter and later the LRS-B next-generation long-range bomber.

The B61-12 will replace the existing B61-3, -4, -7, and -10 bomb designs. It is thought that approximately 480 B61-12s will be produced.

Currently around 200 B61 bombs are deployed in underground vaults inside about 90 protective aircraft shelters at six bases in five NATO countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey). Two of these bases utilize U.S. aircraft (one airbase in Incirlik, Turkey and one in Aviano, Italy). Non-U.S. aircraft are assigned to other bases (Kleine Brogel, Belgium; Büchel, Germany; Ghedi Torre, Italy; and Volkel, the Netherlands).

In September 2015, German television station ZDF, citing a Pentagon budget document, said that the U.S. Air Force will deploy modernized B61 nuclear bombs to Germany's Buchel air force base, replacing the 20 weapons already at the site.

"In other words, the American modernized thermonuclear aircraft bomb has been primarily, and for the nearest quarter of a century, destined to Europe. Washington however does not specify how and from whom the modernized nuclear bombs are going to defend the continent," said a Russian-language commentary from the RIA Novosti website.

"However it is easy to guess that the thermonuclear bombs will be first of all used for the 'deterrence' of Russia and the rest of Europe will fall hostage to the circumstances orchestrated from across the ocean," the website noted.

At that time, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov characterized the move as a potential "violation of the strategic balance in Europe," that would demand a Russian response.

"This could alter the balance of power in Europe," Peskov said.

"And without a doubt it would demand that Russia take necessary countermeasures to restore the strategic balance and parity."

(Sputnik; NNSA)

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World Social Forum in Montreal

Social Forum Opens August 9

Join the World Social Forum Opening March!
Tuesday, August 9
La Fontaine Park, corner of Rue Cherrier and Ave. du Parc la Fontaine
Open to the public

2:00 pm: Creative activities in the park
5:30 pm: March to Place des Festivals (Sainte-Catherine and Jeanne-Mance)
6:30 pm: Grand Opening Event featuring musical and cultural groups.

The 2016 World Social Forum is the 12th Forum of its kind since 2001. This year it is being held in Montreal from August 9 to 14 at locations across the city including McGill University, UQAM, Concordia University and Cégep Du Vieux Montréal. The theme for 2016 is, "Another world is needed. Together, it is possible."

The organizing committee, the 2016 World Social Forum Collective, expects more than 10,000 to participate in the event, with more than 2,000 coming from outside of Canada. More than 1,000 activities are scheduled to take place from August 10 to 12 including Grand Conferences and self-directed activities organized by Forum participants.

The Social Forum opening rally will be held Tuesday, August 9 at La Fontaine Park and thousands are expected to take part in the march. The opening march is an important occasion for participants to express their aspirations for Canada to be a zone for peace in the context of dangerous developments worldwide and to contribute to the friendship of peoples and nations. Participants will raise their slogans reflecting the necessity for a better world; to defend the rights of all in Canada; to defend the sovereignty and self-determination of peoples; and oppose the war preparations of the U.S. imperialists and big powers. The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) calls on everyone to participate vigorously in the opening march to oppose imperialism and Canada's warmongering course.

The Forum will conclude with public events in Jarry Park (rue Jarry and Boulevard St-Laurent) from 9:00 am to 11:00 pm on August 13 and from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm on August 14 (beginning one hour after the Montreal Pride Parade).

The 2016 World Social Forum is part of a series of World Social Forums which began in 2001 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in which 12,000 people from all over the world participated. The aim of the Forums is to seek out alternatives to neo-liberal policies which are being imposed worldwide by encouraging the participation of a maximum number of people and organizations, as well as to share experiences and opinions which contribute to carrying forward the struggle for another world.

Since the first Forum in Porte Alegre, Brazil, ten other Forums have been held in various parts of the world, including four additional ones in Brazil -- in Porto Alegre and Belem. The fourth edition of the Forum was held in Bombay, India in 2004. Other Forums have taken place in Caracas, Venezuela; Nairobi, Kenya; and Dakar, Senegal; and two have been held in Tunis, Tunisia.

Registration is $40 per person with a $10 solidarity price based on need. For information about registration and the World Social Forum program, see the official Participants' Guide.

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Canada's Unacceptable Denial of
Visas to Participants

On August 5 organizers of the World Social Forum (WSF) announced that the government of Canada has denied visas to hundreds of people registered to participate in the Montreal event. They estimate that out of the approximately 2,000 delegates sent invitation letters 75 per cent had their visa applications denied or received no response. Organizers say that the mass denial of entry to a host country is unprecedented at any of the 12 preceding Forums held since 2001.

Those denied include former Minister of Culture and Tourism of Mali and candidate for Secretary-General of the United Nations Aminata Traore and President of the Palestinian Postal Service Workers' Union Imad Temiza. WSF spokespersons said those targeted were largely from Africa and West Asia, including from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Morocco, Iran and Nigeria. They noted that delegates from Haiti and Nepal were also turned away in large numbers.

Iranian media reported in July that all the activists and NGO representatives from that country were denied visas by Canada, including many who had taken part in the previous Forum in Tunisia in 2015.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada issued statements to media claiming that those denied did not meet the requirements for visiting Canada. Spokesperson Nancy Caron told media, "Immigration Canada works closely with event organizers to ensure that delegates apply for their visa as soon as possible and they understand the requirements for visitors to Canada. Decisions are made by highly qualified staff in accordance with Canadian law."

The most common reasons for rejection were "uncertainty" and "concerns" about the participants' departure from Canada, about their financial situation or previous trips. In other words, the decisions were based on prejudices and impressions about the individuals as well as the official prejudices of the Canadian government and not any objective criteria.

Carminda Mac Lorin, a coordinator of the Forum told media, "We live in a country that is totally discriminatory in terms of access and we're seeing this pretty concretely right now." A news release from Forum organizers notes, "If the massive number of refusals raises indignation, the reasons invoked by Canadian officials arouse anger."

Stories of dubious and discriminatory rejections abound. Organizers from the Indymedia Africa Working Group (IAWG) report:

"Four Nigerian journalists from Sahara Reporters were rejected on the spurious grounds that their application failed to provide bank details from their organization, even though the embassy never asked for such bank documents. Two well-known Malian human rights activists, including the President of Malian Association of Domestic Workers (known by its French acronym, ADDAD) were denied visas because they allegedly 'lack a clear purpose for the trip'. The same was the case with the refusal of visas for grassroots organizers with the 'No Vox Afrique' network, particularly those from Benin, Burkina Faso and Togo. To date there has been no responses for the applications of a women's rights activist from Nigeria, a student organizer from Ghana and a radio journalist from Ghana, despite the fact that their applications were submitted well in advance of the timeline the Canadian government indicates for normal processing."

Moussa Coulibaly, an IAWG delegate from Mali whose visa was also denied, stated, "It is unacceptable for embassies to be able to refuse a visa on such a flimsy excuse as 'lack a clear purpose for the trip.'"

The IAWG further remarked, "Canadian authorities should have simply banned the organizing of the World Social Forum (WSF) in their country instead of trying to destabilize it by way of mass refusal of visas to participants."

Omoyele Sowore, founder and publisher of Sahara Reporters noted, "We expected that if the Canadian consulate was in doubt of our capability to support our delegates, that they would ask us for further documentation. This was not done; all delegates sponsored by us had their visa applications denied. The Canadian government ought to know that in accepting the WSF to be hosted on Canadian soil, it had agreed to accept all persons regardless of race, class or social geography."

In an open letter Iranian activists noted: "The Consulate of Canada refused to issue visas due to flimsy excuses such as an uncertain purpose for visiting, despite the reason being transparent in the invitations, or those who are married with children being accused of having a lack of family ties in their country of residence... It seems that such an attitude is evidence of selective and politically discriminatory behaviour on the part of the Government of Canada toward social activists and human rights defenders. Inhumane behaviour will never be forgotten in today's tumultuous world."

(CBC, CSN, Montreal Media Co-op)

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Trudeau Government's Duplicity

"All Options Are Open" Approach to Mail Delivery

Postal Workers Rally to Defend Pensions,
Pay Equity and Public Services
Saturday, August 6 -- 1:00 pm
Parc Saint-Alphonse (Émile-Journault Ave and Chateaubriand Ave)
March to constituency office of Prime Minister Trudeau,
529 Jarry Street East, Suite 302

Duplicity is a key component of the Trudeau government's program to serve the global monopolies, dismantle public services and attack workers' rights. It is an integral part of the neo-liberal ideological and institutional basis for the negation of workers' rights. This is clear in the present situation facing postal workers and their allies in defence of their rights and the public postal service.

As postal workers demonstrate August 6 in Montreal to demand the government and Canada Post engage in genuine negotiation, the Trudeau government is paving the way for still-greater attacks against the workers and the postal service itself. Besides recognizing Canada Post's "right" to unilaterally modify postal workers' working conditions should they reject Canada Post's demands for concessions, the Trudeau government established a task force to conduct a review of Canada Post in May. Its mandate is to examine what is at stake and to submit a progress report in September. Following this, so-called consultations will be held with Canadians from September to November which will lead to a report that is to be tabled in Parliament in December. According to the government, some kind of decision would then be announced in spring 2017.

A central theme of the Trudeau government's ideological attack on the rights of workers and public services, and in support of the aims of the global monopolies is the promotion of "maximum flexibility" and opposition to "rigid" rules and practices. These notions are dear to private monopolies and Crown corporations which seek leeway for anti-social restructuring and the negation of the rights of those who produce goods and services. They claim that workers' "rigidity" is a major obstacle to the "flexibility" needed by the companies.

In this case, maximum flexibility takes the form of a review where "all viable options" are open to allow Canada Post to deliver what the government calls quality service at reasonable costs while maintaining its "self-sufficiency" and "sustainability." The government has already decided that the development of a universal postal service as an essential component of nation-building in the service of Canadians and controlled by them is too rigid and will put the sustainability of Canada Post at risk.

In presenting the review, the government does not describe any of the aforementioned "options," supposedly because it does not want to draw foregone conclusions before the results of consultations are in. The government hopes it will appear that the results were decided by Canadians, all the while interpreting the results to its own advantage to justify its decisions. The government is using the fraud of "consultation with Canadians" to impose a purely pragmatic point of view according to which workers' rights do not exist because they are deemed to be "costs," and their adherence to principles and hard-won gains are a hindrance to the flexibility Canada Post needs to be sustainable. The same applies to the responsibility of a public authority necessary to ensure a universal public postal system in the service of Canadians, which is presented as being inflexible and non-realistic.

This tactic became clear as soon as the Trudeau government introduced the Canada Post Review while its electoral commitment to restore door-to-door home delivery eliminated by the Harper government was openly violated.

Such was the electoral commitment of Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party:

"We will save home mail delivery. By ending door-to-door mail delivery, Stephen Harper is asking Canadians to pay more for less service. That is unacceptable. We will stop Stephen Harper's plan to end door-to-door mail delivery in Canada and undertake a new review of Canada Post to make sure that it provides high-quality service at a reasonable price to Canadians, no matter where they live."

In a meeting with the Mayor of Montreal Denis Coderre on September 3, 2015 in the midst of the 2015 federal election campaign, Justin Trudeau declared: "As far as Canada Post is concerned, we will re-establish door-to-door home delivery. People are expecting a level of service and we will deliver that service."

That commitment has become yet again another option which the government cannot "impose" on Canada Post before consultations, according to the Trudeau government.

In a television interview at the time the Canada Post Review was launched, Minister of Public Services and Procurement Judy Foote clearly explained the Liberals' pragmatic approach:

"We want to hear from Canadians. We want to hear what they would like to see happening with Canada Post. That is not to say we will not save home delivery but reality is that we need to hear from Canadians, what is it Canadians want saved, when they recognize the cost. For instance on the Five-Point Action Plan, according to Canada Post they were saving anywhere from $400-million to $500-million a year by putting in place the roadside mailboxes. People will have to be realistic about it. What Canadians need to tell us is, do they want mail delivery five days a week, do they want it two days a week, three days a week, given the cost of the service but realizing that Canada Post has to remain self-sustaining... I do not know what we are going to be able to keep [of home delivery], it will depend on what Canadians want, on what they say they need... once they know the costs of providing a particular service."

The use of this concept of "options" is a tactic aimed at imposing decisions that are anti-worker and anti-public services, and denying the government's responsibility to defend and build a public postal service as part of nation-building.

Postal workers have given the call to participate in the Canada Post Review hearings as well as in other aspects of the process to ensure that their stands in defence of the public postal service are heard. Postal workers are using the review to reiterate their demands that door-to-door delivery be restored and that public postal services be expanded. It is important to block the Trudeau government's plan to claim that "Canadians have spoken" and that they are actually demanding further attacks against the workers and the postal service.

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Decisions on Northern Gateway and Trans Mountain Pipelines

Where Sovereignty Must Be Vested
in a Modern Nation

On June 23, the Federal Court of Appeal overturned approval of the Northern Gateway Pipeline in a ruling on Indigenous nations' legal challenge of the federal approval granted in June 2014. However, the majority decision of the Court dealing with how the government should approach its duty of consultation with the Indigenous peoples leaves no doubt that existing Constitutional arrangements violate the principle of nation-to-nation relations. The decision asserts that sovereignty lies with the Crown, and the Crown, in asserting its sovereignty over the Indigenous nations negates their sovereignty and deprives them of their rights.

The Court concluded that the standard of review appropriate was one of reasonableness. The Crown must engage in a meaningful process of consultation with the Indigenous peoples. Both parties must act in good faith and be reasonable, the Court said.

"Good faith is required on both sides in the consultative process," the ruling reads. Further it asserts, "Aboriginal claimants must not frustrate the Crown's reasonable good faith attempts, nor should they take unreasonable positions to thwart the government from making decisions or acting in cases where, despite meaningful consultation, agreement is not reached: Haida Nation, at paragraph 42."[1]

The Crown through the Governor in Council (the Cabinet) has broad discretionary powers to decide what is in the national interest and assert its sovereign right to do so. This can literally be whatever the Cabinet declares it to be. Consent of the Indigenous nations is not required, as they are not considered sovereign, and when agreement is not reached, they must submit to the decision made by the Crown, the sovereign Cabinet. The governed -- Indigenous nations and Canadians -- are deprived of their sovereignty and right to decide. Those who do not submit to the sovereignty of the Crown through the Governor in Council and instead affirm their sovereign right to decide, are then defamed as "unreasonable" and as not sharing the Canadian values they define.

Absolute Power in the Name of "Unifying Diverse Interests"

BC Day of Action against pipelines outside provincial legislature, October 7, 2013. (J. Castro)

The Federal Court of Appeal cites references to argue that Cabinet rule is a way to unify the diverse interests within Canada and to accommodate these interests.

"In Odynsky[2], this Court described the practical nature of the Governor in Council as follows (at paragraph 77): The Governor in Council is the 'Governor General of Canada acting by and with the advice of, or by and with the advice and consent of, or in conjunction with the Queen's Privy Council for Canada: Interpretation Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. I-23, subsection 35(1), and see also the Constitution Act, 1867, sections 11 and 13. All the Ministers of the Crown, not just the Minister, are active members of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada.' They meet in a body known as Cabinet. Cabinet is 'to a unique degree the grand co-ordinating body for the divergent provincial, sectional, religious, racial and other interests throughout the nation' and, by convention, it attempts to represent different geographic, linguistic, religious, and ethnic groups [...]"[3]

"In the case before us, by vesting decision-making in the Governor in Council, Parliament implicated the decision-making of Cabinet, a body of diverse policy perspectives representing all constituencies within government. And by defining broadly what can go into the report upon which it is to make its decision -- literally anything relevant to the public interest -- Parliament must be taken to have intended that the decision in issue here be made on the broadest possible basis, a basis that can include the broadest considerations of public policy."

To describe Cabinet as a "body of diverse policy perspectives," which represents the broad public interest is a conclusion befitting those who do not share the problems or aspirations of the Indigenous people who struggle for survival every day, or those of the working class resisting the neo-liberal, anti-social offensive and of all those who organize and fight in defence of the rights of all.

In the "diverse interests" cited, no mention is made of class; neither are the concerns of the working class recognized nor is the constant contradiction the working class faces within the social relation it shares with those who own and control the socialized productive forces.

Today, the Liberal and Conservative Parties and others within the cartel party system of governance define the public interest as whatever makes the monopolies competitive internationally. The public authority in all its institutions, in particular government and Cabinet, has been directly taken over by private monopolies.

No modern government of laws can be described as democratic unless it sorts out the problem of how to make sure the people are able to participate directly in setting the direction of the economy and all matters of concern to them. The people must be enabled to participate directly, not though representatives of political parties whom they have no role in selecting or electing or holding to account. None of what is contained in the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal is worthy of the name of a modern democracy befitting a modern Canada. It does not provide the citizens of Canada and Quebec and the Indigenous nations with the means to exercise control and their right to decide but instead resorts to citations from a constitution and rule of law that vests sovereignty in the Crown and its Governor in Council.

The Appeal Court upholds a form of arbitrary and absolute rule of a sovereign Crown and its Governor in Council (Cabinet). Those who do not submit to the sovereignty of the Cabinet can be defamed, criminalized and declared un-Canadian, on the basis of lacking the values the Liberals and others in the cartel party system define.

In the face of this outmoded and undemocratic rule, new constitutional arrangements are needed that deprive the Crown and its Governor in Council of sovereignty, and instead:

- vest sovereignty in the people;
- end colonial injustice;
- establish nation-to-nation relations with the Indigenous peoples;
- recognize the right of the people of Quebec to self-determination; and
- enact arrangements of equilibrium in the social relation, the relations of production between the working class and those who own and control the socialized productive forces that recognize and guarantee the rights of the working class, including the fundamental right to end class privilege through resolving the contradiction of the anachronistic social relation and bring into being modern socialized relations of production in conformity with the modern socialized forces of production.


1. Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests), 2004 SCC 7, 3 SCR 511.

2. League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada v. Odynsky, 2010 FCA 307, 409 N.R. 298.

3. Norman Ward, Dawson's The Government of Canada, 6th ed., (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987) at pages 203-204; Richard French, 'The Privy Council Office: Support for Cabinet Decision Making' in Richard Schultz, Orest M. Kruhlak and John C. Terry, eds., The Canadian Political Process, 3rd ed. (Toronto: Holt Rinehart and Winston of Canada, 1979) at pages 363-394.

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Denial of the People's Right to Decide

Unist'ot'en Camp

A campaign promise of the Trudeau Liberals was to restore trust in the environmental assessment process for energy and other resource development projects. Aside from presenting the Liberals as different from the Harper Conservatives, this acknowledged the determination of First Nations, environmental groups, municipalities, workers and youth to have their say on major projects, such as pipelines, increased oil exports, liquefied natural gas, hydro projects and the sellout and destruction of manufacturing in Canada -- from food to wood products to steel.

In the case of the 2013 proposal by Kinder Morgan to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline and increase the export of raw bitumen through the port of Vancouver, there has been and continues to be massive opposition. In 2014, before the project was recommended by the National Energy Board (NEB), over 100 people were arrested on Burnaby Mountain and accused of interfering in Kinder Morgan's exploration drilling in a protected area. Opposition continues in the face of the NEB decision to recommend the project and reject without mention the massive amount of scientific evidence that an expanded pipeline poses significant environmental and other risks with little benefit for the people and a self-reliant economy. Applications for judicial review of the NEB decision were filed in June by the Cities of Burnaby and Vancouver, several First Nations -- including the Squamish, Cheam and Tsleil-Waututh, and several environmental groups.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines "to consult" as to "seek information or advice from (someone, especially an expert or professional)," "have discussions with (someone), typically before undertaking a course of action," and "refer for information to (a book, diary, or watch)." Consultation implies expertise and authority, and opinions based on knowledge pertinent to the matter at hand on the part of those being consulted.

Canadians take the issue of their participation in consultation very seriously. In spite of all the obstacles placed to prohibit people from participating in previous NEB hearings, hundreds of individuals and organizations brought forward their expertise to raise concerns about the economic, social and environmental impacts of the project.

In the case of a major economic undertaking by government or one requiring government approval, there is a serious problem of the public institutions in that no mechanisms exist for consultation or any form of participation by the polity in decision-making. The "interim measures" of the Trudeau government and the whirlwind meetings in the summer with little notice of venue and restricted participation come from the same mold as those of the Harper government. The consultations that have been organized have no connection with decision-making. Even if 98 per cent of those in the meetings express serious opposition, the decision-making is done elsewhere.

Even more problematic is that there is no constitutional mechanism for Canadians to participate in determining what is and is not in the "public interest," and no clear definition of what constitutes the public interest. The outcome of the consultation is pre-determined. The rhetoric goes like this: the Harper Conservatives were previously elected and formed the government therefore what they said was in the public interest was pre-determined as the public interest. Now, the Trudeau Liberals have been elected and form the government therefore what they say is in the public interest and is pre-determined as the public interest. The "consultations" merely confirm what has already been determined.

The Public Interest According to Trudeau

Prime Minister Trudeau's mandate letter to the Minister of Natural Resources states, "Throughout Canada's history, our prosperity has been built on our natural resources. It is a core responsibility of the federal government to help get our natural resources to market, but that is only possible if we achieve the required public trust by addressing environmental, Indigneous peoples' and local concerns. As Minister of Natural Resources, your overarching goal will be to ensure that our resource sector remains a source of jobs, prosperity, and opportunity within the context of a world that increasingly values sustainable practices and low carbon processes. This requires continued investment and support for innovation in our natural resource sectors."

The mandate letter predetermines the public interest as ripping out our natural resources, shipping them to the world market and doing everything possible to assist the global monopolies which own and control this sector of the economy in accomplishing this great national task. For the Trudeau Liberals and the Harper Conservatives before them, to rip and ship is in the public interest and nothing and no one will be allowed to interfere with what is in the public interest. The task of the Minister is to ensure this happens and if that requires phony consultations then so be it.

Not everyone would agree that the government's core responsibility is to help rip out our natural resources and ship them abroad to market. This is the demand of the monopolies in control of the resource sector, not Canadians. How can an independent and self-reliant economy not regard our natural resources as foundational to developing Canadian manufacturing, public services and flourishing local economies across the country to meet the needs of Canadians? The mandate letter does not consider important issues such as stabilizing the economy by ensuring that prices and the use of the resources and other issues are under the control of Canadians along with the safety of workers, communities and the environment with regard to resource extraction and transportation. The mandate letter is silent on the tragedy of Lac-Mégantic, promoting only its dogma of ripping and shipping. Was the destruction at Lac-Mégantic in the public interest? Has the explosive and sudden crisis in the Alberta energy resource sector with thousands of workers laid off, communities devastated and the entire economy tumbling into negative growth been in the public interest?

The demands in the Trudeau mandate letter are those of the global monopolies -- including Kinder Morgan, Enbridge and others -- that the human and natural resources of Canada be used not for nation-building in the broad public interest but for the monopolies' empire-building in their narrow private interest. Trudeau's mandate letter is a declaration that monopoly right trumps public right.

The hypocrisy of the Liberals knows no bounds. Their self-serving concept of consultation is exposed for all to see. On the Trans Mountain and Energy East pipeline projects, they attempt to fool people with phony hearings but on other fronts, where consultation may not serve their purpose, there is just dictate.

On July 29, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) issued a press release to inform people that the "Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Transport Canada have issued federal permits to allow construction of BC Hydro's Site C dam hydroelectric project to immediately ramp up construction." On this issue, the commitment to consultation and nation-to-nation relations with Indigenous nations have been crushed under open dictate. Construction has begun on Site C.

For the Trudeau Liberals and their flunkies in the BC government the deed is done before consultation takes place, before the courts have ruled, before the people who are directly affected by the decision are even permitted to argue their case.

The UBCIC statement points out: "Treaty 8 has just been granted a hearing in the Federal Court of Canada this September. Rather than respecting the treaty rights of Prophet River and West Moberly [First Nations] and the legal process by pausing or even slowing down site preparation and construction, the Trudeau Government, like cowardly, thuggish thieves in the dark, quietly issued federal permits before a long weekend to allow for the acceleration of construction."

To pretend that Canadians are being consulted on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion when the NEB has already made its recommendation and the hearings of the Ministerial Panel are being held under the same old format -- "are you for or against this proposal" that the people have had no say in determining in the first place -- is for purposes of disarming people who are fighting for their rights.

It is not acceptable to have the monopolies and their representatives in government make all the decisions about the direction of the economy and then bestow upon Canadians the favour of a few minutes to object or agree, yet ultimately leave them powerless to affect the outcome.

The issue facing the Canadian working class and its allies is not whether to support or oppose this or that plan of the monopolies, but to discuss and work out our own nation-building project. Oil only for export -- who decided that? Close the sawmills and pulp mills and export raw logs -- who decided that? Let the monopolies dictate whether or not there will be manufacturing in Canada, whether the economy should be self-reliant or dependent on global issues beyond our control -- who decided that?

Canadian workers, youth, women, First Nations, fishermen and farmers and small business people have the right to participate in the decisions about the direction of the economy, about issues that affect the people, about how and when resources are developed, about how to develop a vigorous and self-reliant economy with secure jobs in both resource extraction and manufacturing, and about trade based on mutual benefit and development with other nations. Those issues pose the problem of nation-building, and nation-building is essentially about the people and their well-being, future and right to decide.

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Court Upholds Monopoly Right and
Negates the Public Interest

The 100-page ruling of the Federal Court of Appeal overturning the approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline goes to great lengths to spell out the far-reaching nature of the arbitrary or discretionary powers of the "Governor in Council" -- that is, the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The decision references the authority given to the "Governor in Council" by Parliament through the National Energy Board Act. The Act states that "The public interest is inclusive of all Canadians and refers to a balance of economic, environmental and social considerations that changes as society's values and preferences evolve over time." The Court comments:

"But in this case [the approval of the Northern Gateway Pipeline], the Governor in Council's discretionary decision was based on the widest considerations of policy and public interest assessed on the basis of polycentric, subjective or indistinct criteria and shaped by its view of economics, cultural considerations, environmental considerations, and the broader public interest " (TML emphasis).

"Does the economic benefit associated with the construction and operation of a transportation system that will help to unlock Alberta's oil resources and make those resources more readily available worldwide outweigh the detrimental effects, actual or potential, including those effects on the environment and, in particular, the matters under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012? To what extent will the conditions that Northern Gateway must satisfy -- many concerning technical matters that can be evaluated and weighed only with expertise -- alleviate those concerns? And in light of all of these considerations, was there enough high-quality information for the Governor in Council to balance all the considerations and properly assess the matter? These are the sorts of questions this legislative scheme remits to the Governor in Council. Under the authorities set out above that are binding upon us, we must give the Governor in Council the widest margin of appreciation over these questions."

What does this legalese boil down to? The public interest is whatever the government declares it to be. Under neo-liberal globalization, the public interest is declared to be making North American monopolies competitive internationally, specifically the energy and pipeline monopolies operating in Canada.

The problems facing the actual producers, the working class and the socialized economy are not considered relevant in determining what is in the public interest. It is suggested that the interests of the monopolies and the problems of the economy are the same thing, but this is not the case. For example, high unemployment is a nightmare for the working people, while it is the monopolies who are throwing workers onto the street and finding an"opportunity" in high unemployment to drive down wages and lower the living and working conditions of the remaining workers. The "approval" process based on what is in the public interest is confined to yes or no to decisions made by these same monopolies.

In fact everything which lies within the realm of providing real alternatives to the current direction of the economy is excluded from the issues which are to be considered in deciding what is in the public interest. The idea that the problem is the price of oil and pipelines to export unprocessed bitumen are the solution as they will allow the owners to seek a higher price is repeated over and over. But how is the problem the price of oil?

The problem is the direction of the economy which is subordinate to the aims of the international financial oligarchy and decision-making on a supranational basis. The alternative lies in nation-building, not empire-building. Public control can be established over the energy sector. Canada could set the price of its oil, stop importing oil, and serve its own internal market. The oil and other energy resources must be recognized as strategic resources and the basis for the development of a thriving manufacturing sector. The self-serving nonsense that the choice is between economic benefit and detrimental effects on the environment should be treated with the contempt it deserves. Canadians and Indigenous nations must exercise decision-making authority and not permit the monopolies to usurp this authority for their own ends.

The Federal Court of Appeal decision is a defence of monopoly right within the U.S.-dominated imperialist system of states. The idea that by extending "consultation" within this definition as Trudeau is now doing with the Trans Mountain pipeline, Canadians are being given a say and the rights of Indigenous nations recognized just does not wash.

A modern definition of rights includes the right to decide, including the right to decide the direction of the economy, and the rights of the Indigenous nations and Métis to live and be on their traditional territories. Such rights must be enshrined within a modern constitution and provided with guarantees. Democratic renewal means that it is the people who must be sovereign, not the "Governor in Council" through which the monopolies exercise their dictate.

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For Your Information

Federal Court Overturns Approval of
Northern Gateway Pipeline

The Federal Appeal Court of Canada released its decision on the legal challenges from Indigenous nations and Canadian organizations to the Northern Gateway pipeline project on June 23.[1] In a two to one decision, the court overturned the Harper government's approval of the pipeline. The decision states the government failed to uphold the "honour of the Crown" and discharge its constitutional responsibilities to consult with and accommodate the Indigenous nations, which the Court often refers to as "Aboriginal groups." The proposed Northern Gateway pipeline would ship bitumen from Alberta to Kitimat, BC and then to overseas markets by tanker.

The mass media widely described the ruling as "quashing the pipeline," but this is far from the case. The court declares that the Joint Review Process, a combined hearing of the National Energy Board (NEB) and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA), met the standard of "reasonableness" and that Canada acted in good faith in its consultations with the Indigenous nations. However, the "Governor in Council" (Cabinet) did not carry out its duties in Phase IV, the consultations which take place with the Indigenous nations after the NEB has approved a project but before the government issues certificates of approval.

The decision reads, "The inadequacies -- more than just a handful and more than mere imperfections -- left entire subjects of central interest to the affected First Nations, sometimes subjects affecting their subsistence and well-being, entirely ignored. Many impacts of the project [...] were left undisclosed, undiscussed and unconsidered."[2]

Further it says, "It would have taken Canada little time and little organizational effort to engage in meaningful dialogue on these and other subjects of prime importance to Aboriginal Peoples. But this did not happen."

The inference is clear: "meaningful" consultation would not have altered the final decision and approval, although it may have resulted in some additional conditions to be met by Enbridge and Northern Gateway. The Court explicitly rejects the stand of the Haisla and other nations that meaningful consultation requires a two-way dialogue, whereas the Joint Review Panel process was a quasi-judicial process in which the Crown and Indigenous nations had no direct engagement. The Court ruling suggests direct engagement is required only after the NEB and CEAA have issued their decision.

In the wake of the decision, the Trudeau government put Enbridge's request for an extension to the 2016 construction deadline to start building the pipeline on hold. The ruling does not require the government to start the Northern Gateway approval process afresh, and it could decide simply to redo Phase IV at a later date. Phase IV consultations on the Trans Mountain pipeline, which received NEB approval on May 19 are now underway. The Appeal Court decision is a blueprint for the Trudeau government as to how to carry out these consultations in a manner that will withstand a court challenge.

In it decision, the Court rejects all but one of the arguments presented by the Indigenous nations. All objections to the Joint Review Process, including its failure to meet Canada's duty of consultation and accommodation addressing Indigenous rights and title, the fact that interveners were deprived of crucial information, and the right to participate in establishing the terms and scope of review are dismissed. "As a matter of law, the Crown has discretion as to how it structures the consultation process and how the duty to consult is met," the Court says.

The Court also sanctions the failure of the NEB and the enabling legislation to establish criteria on which a rigorous review could be based to determine what is in the public interest, again because such decisions are within the discretionary or arbitrary powers of the Cabinet. It dismisses the argument that the hearings were a sham because the Harper government announced its decision even before the hearings began.

The justices agree with the government's assertion that it did not have to share its strength of claim and depth of consultation assessment because the courts have already established this information as "protected by solicitor-client privilege." The government only has to provide a description of its assessment.

The Court states that Canada is obligated to "consult deeply" with the affected First Nations, which is considered the highest level of consultation possible, but does not require consent. However, this "deep consultation" can be carried out after the decision-making process is complete, except for the final approval by Cabinet.

The Court says, "As explained above, the duty to consult is a procedural duty grounded in the honour of the Crown. The common thread on the Crown's part must be 'the intention of substantially addressing [Aboriginal] concerns as they are raised through a meaningful process of consultation'[3] [...] The 'controlling question in all situations is what is required to maintain the honour of the Crown and to effect reconciliation between the Crown and the Aboriginal peoples with respect to the interests at stake'[4] [...]

"In our view, it was not consistent with the duty to consult and the obligation of fair dealing for Canada to simply assert the Project's impact would be mitigated without first discussing the nature and extent of the rights that were to be impacted. In order for the applicant/appellant First Nations to assess and consult upon the impacts of the Project on their rights there must first be a respectful dialogue about the asserted rights. Once the duty to consult is acknowledged, a failure to consult cannot be justified by moving directly to accommodation. To do so is inconsistent with the principle of fair dealing and reconciliation."

A "respectful dialogue" about asserted rights is a far cry from recognizing rights and providing them with a guarantee much less a modern constitutional necessity for Canada to establish nation-to-nation relations with Indigenous nations. The Indigenous peoples are not conquered peoples and they never gave up their rights as independent peoples who have the right to decide those issues that affect their territory. The Canadian government should not and cannot deprive them of their rights.

If the duty of consultation is only about accommodation after decisions have been made, where is the right to decide, where is the assertion of independence? To bring an end to colonial injustice, nation-to-nation relations must be established in practice, so that the Indigenous nations can flourish.


1. The Gitxaala Nation, Gitga'at Nation, Haisla Nation, Kitasoo Xai'Xais Nation, Heiltsuk Nation, the Nadleh Whut'en Band, as well as UNIFOR, ForestEthics, Living Oceans Society, Raincoast Conservation Foundation and the Federation of British Columbia Naturalists brought suit vs. Her Majesty the Queen, the Attorney-General of Canada, the Minister of the Environment, and Northern Gateway Pipelines Inc.

2. The Court took note of very specific issues put forward by the Haisla, Kitaso and Heiltsuk First Nations including spill response time, spill recovery and the scientific study of how bitumen behaves in the water. There was in fact no consultation, only information gathering which was summarized -- often inaccurately -- and sent to Cabinet. Errors in the summary were never corrected. The government representative acknowledged that an oil spill could have a catastrophic effect on the interests of the Gitxaala and on the herring industry on which the Heiltsuk depend. Yet no responses were ever received to specific questions regarding Canada's Tanker Safety Expert Panel Report and a report on navigation issues. Specific questions about the impact of a bitumen spill, spill response time and spill recovery received no reply. With no authority to do anything but gather information, the government representatives at the table could only reply, "If we can get more answers, we'll try."

3. Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Minister of Forests), 2004 SCC 7, 3 SCR 511, at paragraph 42.

4. Haida Nation, at paragraph 45.

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Federal Government's "Deep Consultations" on
Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion

Rally on Burnaby Mountain, September 13, 2014. (S. Collis)

Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline has been for 60 years the only pipeline transporting oil products to its terminal on the West Coast in Burnaby, BC. In December 2013, Kinder Morgan filed an application with the National Energy Board (NEB) to significantly expand the pipeline, basically tripling its capacity. The project was met with intense opposition by First Nations, municipal governments and people along the route, but particularly in the Lower Mainland, which is the terminus of the pipeline and the port from where the oil would be shipped overseas. None of the increased capacity would be refined in BC. Oil tanker traffic in the Vancouver harbour would increase by 600 per cent.

The NEB issued its report on the application on May 19 stating, "The [NEB (or Board)] finds that the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (Project) is in Canada's public interest and recommends that Governor in Council (GIC) approve the Project, subject to 157 conditions."

The NEB decision defined the "benefits of the Project" as follows:

In considering whether the Project is in the public interest, the Board concluded there would be a number of important benefits for Canada. These benefits would be considerable and include:

- increased access to diverse markets for Canadian oil;
- thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of long-term jobs directly related to the Project across Canada;
- the development of capacity of local and Indigenous individuals, communities and businesses;
- considerable benefit from direct spending on pipeline materials in Canada; and
- considerable government revenues from the Project.

The Trudeau Liberals argued in 2015 that the review process started under the Harper government was flawed. They said they were committed to "restore trust in environmental assessment." On January 27 they established a Ministerial Panel to "undertake deeper consultations." But they did not hold off on the NEB Report recommending the project, which was issued just two days after the announcement of the composition of the Ministerial Panel.

In the January 27 press release for the Panel, which kindled hope in some quarters, Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources, announced an "interim approach that includes principles and plans for major projects." It reiterated the commitment that "the Government will introduce new environmental assessment processes as part of our efforts to restore public trust. Public opinion will be sought and considered. Decisions will be informed by scientific evidence. Indigenous peoples will be more fully engaged in reviewing and monitoring major resource development projects. The process will have greater transparency."

The "principles and plans" of the "interim approach" addressed two specific projects, the Trans Mountain Expansion and the Energy East pipeline. With regard to the Trans Mountain Expansion project the plan said:

The Government of Canada will:

- Undertake deeper consultations with Indigenous peoples and provide funding to support participation in these consultations;
- Assess the upstream greenhouse gas emissions associated with this project and make this information public; and
- Appoint a Ministerial Representative to engage communities, including Indigenous communities potentially affected by the project, to seek their views and report back to the Minister of Natural Resources.

The extension of the deadline for the Governor in Council decision on the Trans Mountain project to December was announced at the same time. On May 17, Minister Carr announced the composition of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project Ministerial Panel: Ms. Kim Baird (chair), Mr. Tony Penikett and Dr. Annette Trimbee.

The Panel was "tasked with engaging communities and local Indigenous groups and reviewing feedback that will be provided online regarding the project and project-related issues. The panel's work started in June and concludes in November with a report to Minister Carr, which will be made public."

Public meetings have been organized for August in Vancouver, Burnaby and Victoria (schedule available here). Meetings have already taken place in several Alberta and BC cities. The process is being conducted within the framework of "five interim principles" outlined in January:

1. No project proponent will be asked to return to the starting line -- project reviews will continue within the current legislative framework and in accordance with treaty provisions, under the auspices of relevant responsible authorities and Northern regulatory boards;

2. Decisions will be based on science, traditional knowledge of Indigenous peoples and other relevant evidence;

3. The views of the public and affected communities will be sought and considered;

4. Indigenous peoples will be meaningfully consulted, and where appropriate, impacts on their rights and interests will be accommodated; and

5. Direct and upstream greenhouse gas emissions linked to the projects under review will be assessed.

Restoring Trust

The veneer of legitimacy on this process is very thin. Trudeau is on record as supporting the Trans Mountain Expansion so from the outset the legitimacy of the process has been questionable, especially since the NEB report recommending approval was issued before the current consultations began. The manner in which the meetings have been held so far is essentially the same as under the Harper government, with restrictions on speakers, lack of public information about content and locations of meetings, and little effort to engage the public. As well, many people are raising concerns about conflict of interest as the chair of the Committee has a longstanding relationship with Kinder Morgan.

It is no surprise that the Liberals acknowledge a lack of public trust. Protesters on Burnaby Mountain were arrested when they demanded Kinder Morgan stop cutting down trees and drilling in a protected area on Burnaby Mountain in 2015. An uproar occurred this January when the public was not permitted even to observe the NEB hearings. Every obstacle was put in the way of public participation in the NEB process, which ultimately had little or no influence on the decision. The majority of the submissions to the NEB raised serious environmental and other concerns but were summarily dismissed with the conclusion that the project is "in the public interest." All the evidence points to these "deeper consultations" of the Ministerial Panel being no different in substance from what has gone before.

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