Mining, forestry and pipeline projects (including the shelved Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline in the Northwest Territories) in Canada are being delayed or shut down completely due to court challenges by First Nations peoples.
Contrary to uninformed and ill-informed beliefs, First Nations peoples are not against the development of the mining, forest and oil industries. A number of people are of the mistaken belief that First Nations peoples are “closed for business” and “closed to business.” The fact of the matter is that First Nations peoples stand for sustainable, innovative, safe, clean energy solutions. Therein lies the crux of the matter.
For generations now, corporations have marginalized and negated the concerns voiced by First Nations peoples, and contrary to treaty agreements. First Nations peoples have worked hard within the legal structures of non-Native government to resolve these issues, but corporations and government continue to ignore First Nations peoples and the treaty agreements.
To this end, a number of court challenges by First Nations peoples have been submitted to provincial and federal courts, and a number of major court cases have been won by First Nations peoples where projects either had to be restructured or abandoned because they could not be appropriately restructured.
Unfortunately, in December 2012, the Harper government destroyed decades of environmental legislation that protected the land. This is when the Idle No More movement began to make waves and get the word out that the government was more in favor of cultivating strong business ties with corporations that didn’t seem to have environmental concerns at the forefront of their projects.
Now according to a new book entitled, “Imperial Canada, Inc.” the Canadian federal Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, over 70 percent of the world’s mining companies are headquartered in Canada. That alone is good enough reason for some to choose to marginalize and negate the negative impact such activities have on the environment. But for others, it’s all the more reason to make sure that the environment isn’t laid to waste for the sake of corporate profit and greed.
At the beginning of June, the Hupacasath First Nation will have their day in court (June 5 through 7, 2013) to challenge the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA). Among other things, the FIPPA deal can be seen as a lopsided agreement that allows Chinese companies to sue Canadian governments if the government does anything that threatens the company’s profits. The only good news in all of this is the fact that FIPPA has not been ratified as of yet.
What else do we know about China?
For one thing, we know that Chinese state-owned enterprises in the oil and power industries have continuously and successfully blocked efforts by pro-environment government officials to impose policies on them that would address some of the environmental problems caused by those corporations. They have chosen to put profits ahead of health. There is no reason to believe that such corporations will choose to act differently if they are allowed to do business in Canada under the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement. In fact, it is more likely that they will continue to conduct business as usual otherwise why would they ensure a clause was included allowing corporations to sue the government if, in their opinion, company profits are endangered?
For another thing, we know that the Chinese are wondering what their government plans to do to address the serious matter of environmental pollution in that country. In fact, the Economic Observer newspaper wrote in an article entitled “Sense of Security Comes With Openness” published on January 16, 2013:
This kind of response gives the impression that they are trying to cover something up and is unlikely to effectively deal with the concerns of the people let alone once again win their trust.
The quality of the drinking water is closely related to people’s health and residents have every right to know about it.
It should be accepted practice for the Beijing Waterworks Group, both in its role as a company responsible for providing drinking water to the city and also as a regulator, to publish water quality data, instead of it being seen as some kind of emergency countermeasure.
On June 5, 6 and 7, take a stand against FIPPA by standing outside and inside the federal courthouse at 701 West Georgia in Vancouver, B.C. Support the Hupacasath First Nation Court case against FIPPA and the federal government of Canada. Let the Harper government know that you do not agree to having your environment endangered by corporations that have proven to disrespect the environment in their own country.
It’s time to be Idle No More and take a stand on behalf of future generations!