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Mining Shame

Local activists respond to the death of Bill C-300

by Justin Ling

via U.S. National archives
via U.S. National archives

“There was a time...when I was proud, while overseas, to identify myself as Canadian.  It appears that this is over,” Aaron Bates wrote to Michael Ignatieff.

Bates, a Halifax resident who has worked as a nurse in Guatemala says “Canadian mines have had a measurably negative impact on the lives of those who live near them...My Canadian citizenship does not open any doors in these communities.”

Bates' outrage comes on the heels of the death of Bill C-300, a private member's bill that would have regulated how Canadian mining companies operate overseas. There are currently no regulations on how Canadian companies operate, except for a system of 'corporate social responsibility' run by the companies themselves and supported in small part by the Canadian government.

He joins a collection of Nova Scotian activists and NGOs who lobbied for the bill and have since blasted its defeat at the hands of the Conservatives, with help from the Liberals, New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois MPs who missed or abstained from the vote.

Many of the most vocal activists are those who have visited the sites where they say Canadian companies have ignored basic human rights and environmental concerns.

“Our responsibility is to be in solidarity with our friends and colleagues in Guatemala.” Says Kathryn Anderson, founder of Breaking the Silence, a Nova Scotia group committed to making partnerships with Guatemalans organizations dedicated to social justice and developments. As Canadians, she says, we have a “responsibility to respond” to those affected by our country's extractive industries.

Ecumenical justice group KAIROS has also been vocal on the issue of Canadian extractive issues abroad. Linda Scherzinger, an activist with the Halifax chapter of the group, blasted the government, saying that the Canadian foreign service works “not in support of the indigenous people who organize against the mining companies.”

“Whenever we go to Guatemala and meet with Canadian officials in the embassies, it's very obvious where their loyalties lay,” she says.

KAIROS recently had its funding proposal rejected by the federal government for the first time in over a decade, seemingly at the last minute. Some have suggested that their high-profile opposition to the voluntary regulation system is the reason. Scherzinger, in part, agrees, “The truth is that most of the issues that KAIROS works on are in opposition to the current government.” She says.

KAIROS, however, has no plans to stop its work. Ian Thomson, Program Coordinator for Ecological Justice and Corporate Accountability, says that KAIROS will continue to speak up wherever the countries of the Global south are “getting sucked into a foreign investment based economy. Where the wealth is being exported to foreign stock exchanges such as the TSX.”

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447 words


Welcome to the capitalist regime known as canada!

You, anyone like you, whether black, white, red, yellow, or polka dotted can be made victims of the capitalist regime known as canada and any country that espouses democracy developed on the backs, blood and breath of those seen as "poor", "useless", and "different".  This type of system was developed so that when the capitalist based, (democratic-only when it suits their money making greedy pursuits!) "free" society decides that you need to be removed, or maligned, or need to be "put into your place",  you will indeed be removed.  The severe funding cut that KAIROS has experienced is evidence of this!  The rule of law,will not protect you; Parliament (have you seen the antics going on in there when KAIROS funding was being talked about!) will not protect you; if you protest, the military will be called in; ....and we continue to think we are in a true democratic state?!  Ask any First Nations individual, or any non-First Nation individual who has supported First Nation peoples/issues and they will tell you first hand how undemocratic they are treated!  They will tell you of the beatings, intimidations, "rule of law" bullying, that they experienced at the hands of government and big business and "law" enforcement officers, etc.  

For as long as Harper and his cronies rule; things will get worse in terms of human rights issues; the adoption of American based ideologies; the movement toward  becoming another "state" (as in the United States!); degradation of the environment; increase in development of a regime style police/RCMP presence, etc.  

Colonial governments do just that; colonize. And anyone can be it's victim!  You will be it's victim more likely if you are anything other than "white"...but, wait!, wait!, wait!,....don't be fooled by that!  You can be a victim even if you are "white" as long as you are opposed to the capitalist based system, uneducated, poor, ill, elderly, a women, or a youth or a loving, caring "white' individual who supports Indigenous issues!  Being any of those and being "white" you too will suffer.  So, really people should be learning, and very quickly, that the colonial government system will get it's way through "policy" development, military might, intimidation, illegal influence of the law/justice system, etc.

Not funding KAIROS, is a huge black mark on the Harper government and is more evidence that we, as Canadians, are loosing our freedoms, one swipe of a pen, at a time; and this is being fully supported by Harper and his regime!!  Conservative governments are notorious for developing programs and policies that DON'T WORK and end up causing the tax payers more money in the long run:  Residential Schools, a prime example!  Aren't we (all of us, First Nations and mainstream Canadians) still paying for that one!?

All of Us, need to remember that; We are all Spiritual Beings having a Human experience!  So, say what you need to say and do what is right!  

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