Friday, January 23, 1998 at 12:30 p.m.
Friends of the Lubicon
23 January 1998
Québec City - January 23 will mark the second anniversary of an interlocutory injunction granted by the Ontario Court of Appeals to the Daishowa corporation in 1996. The injunction prohibits a boycott of Daishowa forest products organised by a grass-roots organisation in Ontario known as the Friends of the Lubicon. In a split-decision, the Court ruled, among other things, that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not apply in such "private litigation" and found that, in this particular case, the multinational's right to do business outweighed the Friends of the Lubicon's right to freedom of expression. On June 19, 1997, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear the Friends of the Lubicon appeal application and offered no explanation for its refusal.
In 1989, Daishowa was granted logging rights to 29 000 km2 of boreal forest in Alberta, including most of the 10,000 km2 traditional territory of the Lubicon Lake Cree Nation. In the fall of 1990, faced with the clear-cut logging practices of a Daishowa subsidiary, the Lubicon made a call for support and the Friends of the Lubicon responded by organising a boycott of Daishowa products. In a four year period, since the boycott began in Ontario in November 1991, 47 companies representing 4300 retailers have abandoned Daishowa products. Not a single tree has been cut on Lubicon land since.
According to Marc Drouin of the Amitié Lubicons-Québec campaign, "on January 7, Jane Stewart, federal Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, expressed her regrets for past government offenses against Native People... In the case of the Lubicon Lake Cree, the injustice continues to this day. How much longer will they have to wait until they see a fair and just land rights settlement? We ask that Daishowa make a public commitment to neither cut nor buy trees cut on Lubicon land until a land rights agreement is reached between the Lubicon and the federal government. It's as simple as that."
In January 1995, Daishowa Inc. sued Kevin Thomas, Stephen Kenda and Ed Bianchi, members of the Friends of the Lubicon and organisers of the Daishowa boycott. Their trial began in Toronto on September 2, 1997, and finally came to a close last December 12. A verdict is expected in February. As well as punitive damages against the Friends of the Lubicon, Daishowa is also seeking a permanent injunction against any boycott of its products in Ontario.
According to Mr. Drouin, "if the court rules in favor of Daishowa in February, this case could well be used as a legal precedent in the future against any boycott anywhere in Canada. In this era of market globalisation, we are witnessing a considerable increase in corporate influence in our society at the expense of citizens' rights and freedoms, as this case clearly attests, and the future does not look very bright at all. This situation is utterly unacceptable!"
The verdict in Ontario, after almost three years of legal procedures, will come down as Daishowa prepares to begin work on a second mill in the Peace River region in Alberta, bordering Lubicon land. The new $ 900 million paper mill, announced on December 20, 1996, will no doubt use trees cut on Lubicon land.
For more information, contact:
Marc Drouin, Amitié Lubicons-Québec: (514) 844-0484
The campaign Amitié Lubicons-Québec is endorsed by: L'Association des etudiantes et étudiants en études hispaniques (UdeM), l'Association des etudiantes et étudiants en anthropologie (UdeM), l'Association des etudiantes et étudiants diplômé-e-s employé-e-s à McGill (CSN), le Canevas, le Centre de ressources sur la non violence, le Centre Wampum, le Cercle des Premières Nations (UQAM), Citoyen-ne-s opposé-e-s à la brutalit= é policière, la Coalition Démocratique de Montréal, la Coalition Y, le Comité baie James, le Comité chômage de l'Est de Montréal, le Comité Chômage du Sud-Ouest, le Comité chrétien pour les droits humains en Amérique latine, le Comité de Justice et Paix de Ville-Marie, le Comité de mobilisation inter-départementale (UdeM), le Comité des sans emplois de Montréal-Centre, le Comité justice sociale (CRCQ), le Comité Québec-Amérique centrale, le Comité souverainiste (UQAM), la Fédération autonome du collégial (FAC), First Nations Solidarity Working Group (Concordia), Food not Bombs (Montréal), le Groupe de recherche en intér=EAt public (GRIP-Québec) UQAM, le GRIP-Québec Concordia, le GRIP-Québec McGill, Justice and Peace Committee - Archdiocese of Mtl, la Librairie Abya-Yala, la Librairie Alternative, le Mouvement pour le droit à l'éducation (MDE), le Mouvement Vert Mauricie, Option Paix, Parti de la démocratie socialiste, les Productions B'alba, Project Ploughshares (Montréal), Rebelles, le Regroupement de solidarité avec les Autochtones, le Réseau d'alerte pour le Timor oriental (RATO), le Réseau de solidarité avec le Mexique, Rhythm Activism, la Rue des femmes de Montréal, Salut le monde!, Terres en vue...
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