CPC(M-L) HOME TML Daily Archive Le

                Marxiste-Léniniste quotidien

January 30, 2014 - No. 6

Fight Over Control of Canada's Resources

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. Castro)

Fight Over Control 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 Chromite

Canadian Mining Companies Abroad
Infinito Gold Threatens Costa Rica with $1-Billion Lawsuit


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 Environmental Assessment 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 illegitimate.

From the outset 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.[1]

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, cross."

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 project.

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.

Note

1. For a full list of organizations opposed to the Northern Gateway Pipeline, click here.

Return to top


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 Program.

No amount of 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 interests.

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 soil.

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 oil.

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.

Changes made to 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 Waters Protection 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 meaningless.

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 Kitimat."


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 acceptable.

Return to top


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 First Nations.

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.

(Source: Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Mining and Exploration)

Return to top


Information on the Coveted Strategic
Mineral Chromite

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 access.

(Sources: Sudbury Star, www.republicofmining.ca, www.geovic.ne, Wikipedia)

Return to top


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, ICSID.

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 environment.

"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."

Petition

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 gold mine.

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.

(Embassy Magazine, joint communique, sumofus.org, Corporate Knights)

Return to top


Read The Marxist-Leninist Daily
Website:  www.cpcml.ca   Email:  editor@cpcml.ca