Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rape is Rape. Murder is Murder. Threats are Threats. Stop Playing Politics.

In Ecuador an armed security force is alleged to have attacked unarmed locals with pepper spray, then fired guns to stop a protest near a proposed mining site.

In El Salvador, there were also reports of violent attacks against anti-mining activists.

In Mexico, there were allegations of human rights and environmental abuse leading to closure of a mine. (1)

There have been numerous accounts of rape by mine employees, hired as guards.
"The guards, usually in a group of five or more, find a woman while they are patrolling on or near mine property. They take turns threatening, beating and raping her. "In a number of cases, women reported to me being forced to chew and swallow condoms used by guards during the rape." (2)
In Chiapas, Mexico, an environmental activist was gunned down in front of his home, alleged to have been killed by mine employees. (3)

Horrible accounts of human rights violations in developing nations.

But would it surprise you to know that all of these allegations were made against Canadian mining companies?

Star foreign correspondent, Brent Popplewell, says that:
The word "Canada" is so reviled in some places that travelling Canadians mask their citizenship by wearing American flags on their caps and backpacks. (1)
Students for a free Tibet, have also targeted Canadian mining companies, for exploiting their natural resources, that they feel belong to them. (4)

And if all of that isn't bad enough, we've learned recently that Canadian mining companies are the worst in the world for human rights and environmental abuses.

Canadian mining companies are…the worst offenders in environmental, human rights and other abuses around the world, according to a global study commissioned by an industry association [PDAC] but never made public. …[According to the report:] “Canadian companies are more likely to be engaged in community conflict, environmental and unethical behaviour, and are less likely to be involved in incidents related to occupational concerns.”, copper and coal mining were most often involved. The...countries with the most incidents were India, Indonesia, the Philippines and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Regionally...Latin America had the most incidents...once PDAC received the study, it was decided not to make it public because more research was needed. On Tuesday, supporters of…legislation to tighten regulation of Canadian mining firms operating abroad will be on Parliament Hill to lobby for passage of the bill... (5)

Instead of taking care of communities where they operate, they hire paramilitary forces to keep the people in line. Images of children playing in toxic sludge are the norm, and citizens whose natural resources are being raped, live in fear.

Fear of Canadians.

But when KAIROS complained they lost their funding (6) according to internal memos, and when Liberal MP John MacKay introduced a private members bill, to address the concerns, he was threatened to keep quiet, by the most powerful lobbying group on the Hill.

Stockwell Day had appointed an insider to handle the matter, but she's only allowed to investigate allegations of abuse if the mining companies allow her to.

The Conservatives have colluded with the offenders, putting up a wall of resistance. And to make matters worse, the right-leaning Globe and Mail is making this political, rather than addressing legitimate concerns. (7)

There are 200 lobbyists for this industry, who are very powerful, and obviously have our government in their hip pocket. If they threatened John Mackay they no doubt threatened others. So they will be allowed to do what they want and there's nothing we can do.

MacKay just wanted to stop the flow of Canadian tax dollars to the industry until these serious matters were addressed, but the actions of the mining lobby appear to validate the claims. As Mackay says:
"I have to be extremely careful because the mining companies have made it very plain to me that, `We will sue your ass off if, in fact, you make any allegation of our companies and cause reputational damage.' "But I will say, if they think they can treat a Canadian MP this way, you can imagine what they say about Third World countries where they can walk in and say, `How much to buy you?'" (1)
Even if this bill does not get passed, as it probably won't, it has drawn attention to an issue that few Canadians were aware of.

If we are so reviled that "travelling Canadians mask their citizenship by wearing American flags on their caps and backpacks", and our elected officials can be threatened, then maybe we need to demand that no more of our money goes into supporting this industry.

That is our name they are destroying and we shouldn't be rewarding them for it.


1. Canadian mining firms face abuse allegations: A private member's bill aims to impose controls on powerful Canadian mining companies that operate overseas, By Brett Popplewell, Toronto Star, November 22, 2009

2. MPs told of gang rapes at mine: Toronto-based company hotly denies crime at South Pacific site, By Les Whittington, Toronto Star, November 24, 2009

3. Stop Canadian mining companies' rights abuses, A victim's son speaks out, By Jose Luis Abarca, Embassy Magazine, September 29, 2010


5. Canadian mining firms worst for environment, rights: Report [Canada], By Les Whittington, Toronto Star, October 19, 2010

6. Did KAIROS defunding come down to mining interests and one hand-written note? Internal documents raise possibility CIDA minister initially approved proposal, By Lee Berthiaume, Embassy Magazine, October 27, 2010

7. Will Michael Ignatieff bury his own MP’s mining bill?, By Jane Taber, Globe and Mail, October 27, 2010

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