January 30, 2014 - No. 6
Fight Over Control of Canada's
No Means No!
Northern Gateway Approval in
Contempt of the Rights of
First Nations and Canadians
BC Day of Action against pipelines, October
7, 2013, held in conjunction with Idle No More's actions to commemorate
the 250the anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of 1763. (J.
of Canada's Resources
• No Means No! Northern Gateway Approval in
Contempt of the Rights of
First Nations and Canadians - Peggy Morton
• Criminal Wrecking of Public Institutions
Renders Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel Recommendations Meaningless
• First Nations Continue to Uphold Their Rights
in Ring of Fire Development
• Information on the Coveted Strategic Mineral
• Infinito Gold Threatens Costa Rica with
Fight Over Control of Canada's Resources
No Means No!
Northern Gateway Approval in Contempt of the
Rights of First Nations and Canadians
Mass action against Enbridge Northern Gateway
during JRP hearings in Vancouver, January 14, 2013. (T. Blanston)
On December 19, 2013 the Joint Review Panel (JRP)
considering the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline gave its conditional
approval for the project. The JRP conducted public hearings which were
completed in June 2013. The JRP conducts hearings to fulfill the
requirements of the National Energy Board Act and the Canadian
Act. The approval is contingent on 209
conditions and requires final approval from the federal government
within 180 days.
In approving the pipeline, the Panel concluded that it
was "in the public interest" and that "benefits outweigh risks." "We
find that the project's potential benefits for Canada and Canadians
outweigh the potential burdens and risks," said the three-member panel,
led by chairwoman Sheila Leggett. "It is our view that, after
mitigation, the likelihood of significant adverse environmental effects
resulting from project malfunctions or accidents is very low."
Simply put, the panel concluded that the benefits to the
oil monopolies and other private interests trump the rights of First
Nations, the risks to Mother Earth, the fisheries and the entire
coastal economy. In doing so, it acted with utter contempt for the
rights of First Nations and Canadians to decide and the clear
expression by Canadians and First Nations that they have not given
their approval to the Northern Gateway pipeline.
As the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the
eating, and the approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline by the JRP
shows that the review process was a fraud from beginning to end.
A decision in the public interest must uphold the rights
of First Nations and be consistent with the recognition of
nation-to-nation relations between Canadians and First Nations peoples.
This decision does not have the approval of the First Nations directly
affected, has not even met the legal and constitutional requirements
for consultation and accommodation and is therefore completely
the panel declared that it would focus very narrowly on the
pipeline itself, and would not even hear evidence with regard to the
pace of development in the oil sands even though this is directly
connected to the demand of the energy monopolies for pipelines to Asian
markets. The terms of the JRP excluded real participation of Canadians,
including involving Canadians in discussing a new direction for the
economy in place of shipping raw bitumen or how energy resources could
be utilized to create a vibrant all-sided economy and boost
manufacturing. None of the concerns of Canadians about the frenzied
pace of development of the oil sands and its impact on the economy, the
environment, and the energy and transportation workers and northern
communities were considered relevant.
Despite these limitations, there was very broad
participation in the hearings. There were 9,500 public submissions, of
which 96 per cent were opposed to the project. A coalition of 160 First
Nations have said 'no,' together with 31 municipal governments, two
regional districts, the Union of BC municipalities and six unions which
have passed resolutions against the project.
Following the announcement, Chief Martin Louie of the
Nadleh Whut'en First Nation, speaking on behalf of the Yinka Dene
Alliance made it clear that the decision is not acceptable to the First
Nations across whose land and waters the pipeline would be constructed.
"It's no surprise that a flawed process has led to a
flawed recommendation. This project will never be built. The Yinka Dene
Alliance has clearly refused permission for Enbridge's pipelines to cut
through our lands and waters, and the federal and provincial
governments must accept that this project cannot go ahead.
"Our position is clearly stated in the Save the Fraser
Declaration, which bans Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipelines from our
territories. Nothing is changed by the JRP's pronouncement. Enbridge is
not from this place, does not understand our laws and customs, and will
profit by damaging our environment now and into the future.
"We have put ourselves in the frontline for all British
Columbians and together we are fighting for our homes, our future and
our children's future. We are parents, and our responsibilities to
future generations are not subject to negotiation, or judgment, by
others. We have drawn a line in the earth they cannot, and will not,
Meanwhile on January 17, a coalition of environment
groups has filed a lawsuit in Federal Court alleging that the JRP's
final report has serious legal flaws and is based on insufficient
evidence, adding that Canadians would be better off without this
Ecojustice staff lawyer Karen Campbell, in January 17
statement said, "The JRP did not have enough evidence to support its
conclusion that the Northern Gateway pipeline would not have
significant adverse effects on certain aspects of the environment."
Campbell goes on to say that, "The panel made its recommendation
despite known gaps in the evidence, particularly missing information
about the risk of geohazards along the pipeline route and what happens
to diluted bitumen when it is spilled in the marine environment."
Furthermore, the coalition says the JRP concluded that diluted bitumen
is unlikely to sink in an ocean environment even though a federal study
released earlier in the week suggests otherwise. Nor did the JRP
consider the federal recovery strategy for Pacific humpback whales,
whose critical habitat overlaps with the proposed tanker route, or
identify mitigation measures for caribou populations. The lawsuit also
alleges the panel refused to consider the environmental impacts of
upstream oil sands development and permits Enbridge to assess landslide
risks during instead of before construction.
Under the new environmental assessment framework
contained in the 2012 spring omnibus budget bill, Cabinet has final
decision-making power over the Northern Gateway pipeline but is "bound"
by the 209 conditions laid out in the JRP report. Final approval must
be given by the Harper dictatorship within 180 days.
Even before the JRP had completed its hearings, both
Harper and Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver made it clear that
they would approve the pipeline. The Harperites are now declaring that
they will "consult" with First Nations before announcing their final
decision. This crude attempt to justify an illegitimate process is
contemptible, and carries no political or moral authority. It will not
stop the work to enforce the resounding No! which Canadians and First
Nations have expressed, including challenges in the courts and the work
to Stop Harper! and force him to resign.
1. For a full list of organizations
opposed to the Northern Gateway Pipeline, click here.
Criminal Wrecking of Public Institutions Renders
Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel Recommendations Meaningless
Participants in the Stand Up for Science Rally on
Parliament Hill, September 17, 2013 decry the Harper government's
destruction of public institutions that uphold public right and protect
the environment. (K. O'Donnell, PIPSC)
When the Joint Review Panel (JRP) into the Northern
Gateway Pipeline delivered its final report to the Minister of Natural
Resources, it recommended approval of the project contingent on 209
conditions which Enbridge must meet before final approval is given.
Setting such a large number of conditions is certainly
intended to create the impression that the JRP is serious about
protecting the environment. In its news release, the JRP highlights the
following conditions, which would be enforced by the National Energy
Board, requiring Enbridge Northern Gateway to:
- Develop a Marine Mammal Protection Plan;
- Implement the Technical Review Process of Marine Terminal Systems
(TERMPOL) Review Committee Recommendations;
- Prepare a Caribou Habitat Restoration Plan;
- Develop a Training and Education Monitoring Plan;
- Prepare an Enhanced Marine Spill Trajectory and Fate Modelling;
- Develop a Research Program on the Behaviour and Cleanup of Heavy Oils;
- Conduct Pre-operations Emergency Response Exercises; and
- Develop an Emergency Preparedness and Response Exercise and Training
declarations about how Enbridge should have a plan for this
or to study that have any meaning in the face of the wrecking of the
very public agencies needed to ensure protection, public safety and
environmental monitoring. Every Canadian knows the disasters and
tragedies which happen when the government refuses to defend the public
interest and perpetrates the fiction of "self-regulation" by private
Consider the condition that Enbridge develop a research
program on the behaviour and cleanup of heavy oils. Bitumen spills pose
different problems than conventional oil spills. This means that more
and possibly different methods of remediation are required should a
spill occur, particularly once bitumen sinks into the water column or
During the hearings into the Northern Gateway Pipeline,
participants exposed the fact that Enbridge had not submitted plans for
clean-up based on a bitumen spill, but only for a spill of conventional
As if it were not irresponsible enough that conditional
approval is given before such research has even begun, this is far from
the whole story. Harper has deliberately cratered the public program
where the important expertise in this field resides. The Centre for
Offshore Oil, Gas and Energy Research (COOGER) at the Bedford Institute
in Halifax was established in 2002 to co-ordinate research into the
environmental and oceanographic impacts of offshore petroleum
exploration, production and transportation. COOGER's head, Dr. Kenneth
Lee proposed a research project in 2011 arguing that more study was
required to evaluate Northern Gateway's clean-up plans as they were not
based on a bitumen or dilbit spill. Dr. Lee is an internationally
renowned expert on oil spills and his expertise was utilized in the
aftermath of the massive 2010 Gulf of Mexico BP oil spill. Dr. Lee
sought approval to conduct a series of studies through to 2015, when
final tests on the "toxic effects of reference oils to marine species"
would be completed. The study was blocked at the federal government
level. Now COOGER has been forced to phase out all research on the
biological effects of oil and gas. This eliminates the body capable of
monitoring Enbridge's claims that it has studied the matter and that
everything is in order.
environmental regulations through omnibus legislation have also
removed many protections. Bill C-38 exempted the National Energy Board
from a requirement in the Species at
Risk Act to consider and seek to minimize impacts on the habitat
of species at risk when considering pipeline applications. The Navigable
Act was changed from applying to "any body of
water big enough to float a canoe in" to three oceans, 97 lakes, and 62
rivers. Any waterway not on the list that could be affected by a dam,
pipeline, mine or bridge would not fall under federal protection. This
means that the bar Enbridge has to jump over is so low as to be
Another example is the criminal wrecking of the Coast
Guard which negates the work of the TERMPOL Review Committee.
Recommendations 6 states: "The proponent should work closely with
Canadian Coast Guard and Canadian Hydrographic Service officials to
explore possible enhancements to marine communication and traffic
services that could result in safer vessel operation to and from
Protest against the closure of the
Kitsilano Coast Guard Base in Vancouver, September 15, 2012.
This is very cynical. The JRP has endorsed this
recommendation while the Harper government has announced it will close
coast guard communications centres in Vancouver, Comox and Tofino by
2015. It had already announced that the Kitsilano lifeboat station in
Vancouver would close. The entire BC coast will be served now by only
two communications centres, one in Prince Rupert and one in Victoria.
More than 700 coast guard staff have been told that their jobs could be
affected by the closure.
Hundreds of scientists have been fired, entire programs
eliminated or severely slashed, fisheries libraries destroyed and an
all-out war conducted against science in the public interest. The
direction in which the economy is being driven does not require public
scientific institutions because everything is being carried out by
private interests, many times financed with public funds. It is not
First Nations Continue to Uphold Their Rights in
Ring of Fire Development
On December 5 and 6, 2013, a conference on the Role of
Government Policy in Sustainable Mining Development was held at
Lakehead University's Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Mining and
Exploration (CESME). Front and centre of the discussion was the Ring of
Fire mining development, a massive mineral deposit of chromium, copper,
gold, platinum and other metals which is worth an estimated $60 billion
located 240 kilometres west of James Bay and north east of Thunder Bay.
In speaking to the role of governments in dealing with
First Nations on the matter of resource development and other economic
issues, Elsie MacDonald, Band Councillor with the Webequie First Nation
(one of the First Nations of the Matawa Tribal Council in the Ring of
Fire) noted that First Nations' demand an end to unilateral actions and
policies of the different levels of government which reflect the
"Doctrine of Discovery" mindset of the Canadian state. In her
presentation she emphasized that this "Doctrine" has cost First Nations
enormously and that there has to be a new way of thinking and acting on
the part of governments in dealing with First Nations that must be
characterized by respect for First Nations' rights, history and
traditions and recognizing their sovereign status as First Nations.
Conflicting interests must be resolved through negotiation in a spirit
of mutual respect and equality she noted emphasizing that what has to
stop are the governments' unilateral policies and decisions imposed on
Another speaker, lawyer and author Bill Gallagher, who
has had decades of experience working with mining companies, First
Nations and government, pointed out at the conference that the people
of Ontario should know that the government of Ontario has lost of lot
of ground in terms of negotiating with First Nations in good faith when
it comes to resource development. Gallagher noted that governments at
all levels have most often chosen the legal route to resolve disputes
with First Nations. The record shows that for the overwhelming number
of cases, this tactic has failed and failed miserably. Based on his
experience, Gallagher predicted that it is very likely that the Ring of
Fire project will not move forward for another decade and that given
the "unprecedented rise in Native empowerment" the only way forward is
to engage First Nations in discussion and ensure that agreements and
protocols are in place reflecting these agreements.
Information on the Coveted Strategic
Chromite is the mineral that is the key source of
chromium, an extremely versatile metal, useful in the making of various
types of stainless steel of varying hardness as well as the ability to
withstand high temperatures. Chromium comes from the Greek word chroma
which means colour. It is the presence of chromium in
emeralds that gives them their green colour, for example.
In an August 30, 2013 Sudbury Star article,
Stan Sudol, who runs the Republic of Mining website
(www.republicofmining.ca) noted that chromium is "one of the most vital
and indispensable industrial metals for our technology dependent, high
standard of living and there is no substitute for its unique metallic
properties. It is used for aircraft engines, consumer and health
products, auto plating, a variety of stainless steels -- giving them
their corrosion resistance -- and many critical military
applications." (TML emphasis.)
The largest producer of chromite in the world is South
Africa, followed by Kazakhstan, India, Turkey and Finland. There are
also significant deposits of chromite in Pakistan, Russia, Iran,
Brazil, Oman, Philippines, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan.
According to Sudol, of the
approximately 24 tonnes of chromite mined worldwide in 2012, the bulk
of it was used to produce 9.1 tonnes of ferrochrome, of which 90 per
cent is used for stainless steel production. Between 2001 and 2011, the
world production of ferrochrome almost doubled. It is for the latter
reason that chromite is considered a strategic mineral for the U.S.,
China and other countries, including Japan which is one of the world's
leading manufacturers of stainless steel. The U.S. for example,
considers the cheap and stable availability of this important mineral
as key to its military and geo-political interests.
In 2012, South Africa mined almost 11 million tonnes of
chromite, Kazakhstan 4.4 million tonnes, India 3.2 million tonnes,
Turkey 2.2 million tonnes and Finland 3.1 million tonnes. To put things
in context, if the U.S. mining company Cliffs Resources, which has
staked the largest claim in the Ring of Fire, were to have
operationalized its Black Thor Mine in the Ring of Fire by 2014, as it
had projected, Ontario would have been the second largest chromite
producer in the world at 4.4 million tonnes. Sudol considers it would
have been a "game changer" in the international chromite sector,
especially since the large deposits of chromite in the Bushveld region
of South Africa are formed in layers one to two metres thick and are
more difficult and expensive to mine. In the Ring of Fire, the deposits
are formed in vertical sheets near the surface which are easier and
cheaper to mine.
As well, the U.S. requires a secure source of strategic
minerals because it cannot rely on chromite imports from South Africa,
Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Zimbabwe or Afghanistan as these areas are
considered politically unstable. For its part, China is establishing
commercial links with these and other chromite producers as part of its
"going out" geopolitical strategy. With its rising industrial and
military needs, China imports more than 70 per cent of all chromite
produced in the world. Most of South Africa's chromite is exported to
China, for example.
It is for this reason that the U.S. is keen to have
access to the significant chromite deposit in the Ring of Fire in the
Mattawa Tribal region in northern Ontario, which has been projected as
a long-term, large scale supply, that would be comparatively easy to
Canadian Mining Companies Abroad
Infinito Gold Threatens Costa Rica
with $1-Billion Lawsuit
Protests in Costa Rica
against Canadian mining firm Infinito Gold. Banner at right reads:
"Infinito Gold: $800
million; Costa Rica: destruction and contamination forever."
Calgary-based mining firm Infinito Gold is in a dispute
with the government of Costa Rica regarding the company's plans to
develop its Las Crucitas open-pit mine, located in the north of the
country near the border with Nicaragua. It is threatening to sue Costa
Rica for $1 billion in lost profits if it does not get its way.
The case goes back to 2008. At that time, despite a
moratorium on open-pit mining in Costa Rica, an exception was made for
Infinito Gold by then President Oscar Arias, who justified the project
and its accompanying pollution and environmental destruction by
claiming it was "in the national interest."
Protest on Earth Day
2010: "Magistrates of the Constitional Court: we can live without gold
but not without water
-- no to open pit mining."
The president's decree was in contradiction with the
desire of the broad masses of the people to protect the environment
from destruction and abuse. Many actions took place to denounce the
decree including hunger strikes and mass protests. By the fall of 2008,
Infinito Gold was served with a court order requiring it to immediately
cease its activities on the site. News reports state that the people's
rejection of Arias' decree was such that the president revoked it in
April 2010, one month before leaving office. Meanwhile, the company
lost successive court decisions in Costa Rica and has been threatening
to bring a case to the World Bank's investment arbitration tribunal,
A joint statement issued December 20 by Blue Planet
Project, Common Frontiers, the Council of Canadians, MiningWatch Canada
and the United Steelworkers demands the company cease its threats. The
statement says in part:
"Your threatened suit against Costa Rica is quickly
becoming a poster child for the problems with the international
investment framework created by free trade agreements (FTAs) and
foreign investor protection agreements (FIPAs) to prioritize corporate
profits over the well-being of communities, workers, and the
"We call on you to stop threatening to sue Costa Rica,
and to drop your remaining defamation suits against an environmental
activist and two legislators.
"Your recent financial statements paint the picture of a
mining company that is effectively insolvent but that is being kept
alive by successive loans from its major shareholder. These loans can
be traced back to Calgary billionaire Ronald Mannix, who could have
called in several of them that are long past due. Why hasn't he?"
The statement points out
the intrigue and corruption surrounding the case and urges the Costa
Rican government to "continue legal prosecution against members of the
former Arias administration, including ex-President Oscar Arias, who
have been accused of inappropriately granting Infinito Gold a licence
when there was a moratorium in effect on all large-scale mining in
Costa Rica. We are concerned about the potential influence that an
alleged donation from Ronald Mannix, Infinito's largest shareholder, to
the Arias Foundation in 2008 could have had on this decision and will
press for Canadian authorities to divulge all of the information
available in this regard."
Despite the pro-monopoly nature of FIPAs, Juan Jose
Obando, an attorney and professor of private international law at the
Universidad de Costa Rica, told Embassy Magazine that the
particular FIPA between Costa Rica and Canada contains two provisions
that would protect the Costa Rican government in this case. One is that
the investor has to choose either the local judicial system to make its
complaints or take its case to an international tribunal -- it cannot
do both. Secondly, a Canadian investor may only take a complaint
against the Costa Rican government to an international court if "no
judgment has been rendered by a Costa Rican court regarding the measure
that is alleged to be in breach of this agreement." The fact that
Infinito Gold has already been ruled against in Costa Rican courts
means its complaint to the World Bank's investment arbitration tribunal
is dead in the water, according to Obando.
A worldwide petition campaign began a few days before
Infinito Gold's November 21, 2013 annual general meeting. Rick Arnold,
former co-ordinator for Common Frontiers told Embassy that
"We ended up getting some 10,000 [signatures] which were delivered to
CEO John Morgan on Nov. 21.
"What we didn't realize at the time was that the
campaign was actually just gathering steam and by later in December we
had reached the amazing total of over 300,000 signatures from people
all around the world demanding that Infinito cease and desist."
Infinito Gold, a Canadian mining company, just
threatened to slap Costa Rica with a $1 billion lawsuit because the
nation decided to protect its rainforests rather than host an open-pit
Costa Rica's rainforest is lauded as one of the most
beautiful in the world, and is home to many endangered species,
including the green macaw. Officials considered approving the gold
mine, but the use of toxic chemicals such as cyanide -- which often
leaks into and pollutes nearby lakes and rivers -- was far too great a
risk to allow the project to move forward.
A subsidiary of Infinito Gold has announced that a
massive lawsuit against Costa Rica is "imminent", so we need to act
now. If thousands of us stand together against this toxic mine, we can
show Infinito that Costa Rica and other countries that are defending
their natural resources will not be silently bullied by corporate power.
Tell Infinito Gold to drop its $1 billion lawsuit
against Costa Rica.
Open-pit gold mining in Costa Rica would destroy 190
hectares of pristine forest. The rainforest houses 5% of the world's
species and has seen tremendous growth in the ecotourism industry. Over
75% of Costa Ricans oppose mining and have decided that they cannot
take the risk to move forward with gold-mining in the country.
And Costa Rica is not the first to be sued by Infinito
Gold. In 2001, Infinito Gold locked Venezuela into a ten-year legal
battle over a rejected mine. Fortunately, Infinito lost. We can make
sure Infinito Gold loses again by standing up to its greedy tactics and
shameful behavior. Corporate profits cannot take precedence over the
health of the people and the environment.
Stand up for Costa Rica's rainforests -- tell Infinito
Gold to drop the $1 billion lawsuit now.
To add your name to the petition, click here.
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