All rights reserved by author
Kim Goldberg: email@example.com
A Right to Profit
Money, a court rules, is worth more than human life
(c) Kim Goldberg, 1996
Daishowa Inc., the Toronto-based subsidiary to the
Japanese pulp and paper giant, has decided to celebrate
Canada's Freedom to Read Week (Feb. 26-March 3) by ensuring
that you cannot read the following information:
"Until a few years ago, the Lubicon (Cree of northern
Alberta) were a self-reliant people who lived off the land.
(In the late 1970s) government-supported oil and gas
development...devasted the traditional economy and lifestyle
of the Lubicon by ruining the environment and driving away
wildlife. Unbridled resource exploitation has forced 90
percent of the people onto welfare and is destroying the
community... Chief Bernard Ominayak (of Lubicon Lake Band) has
stated: 'If we allow (Daishowa) to clearcut, we may as well
sign our death certificates.'"
The preceding text, taken from a leaflet used by the
Friends of the Lubicon in their consumer boycott campaign
against Daishowa, was outlawed last month by an Ontario
appellate court that believes a corporation's right to turn a
tidy profit supercedes your constitutional right to free
The appeal court ruled that the entire boycott campaign
was illegal because its primary intent was to cause economic
damage to Daishowa.
This anti-democratic, Charter-busting verdict is
essentially a pre-emptive veto against all future consumer
boycotts in the province of Ontario and beyond, since all
successful boycotts by definition will have an economic impact
on the company targetted. That's the point, eh.
Unless the Jan. 23 ruling is overturned on higher appeal,
Friends of the Lubicon can no longer distribute factually
correct information to Daishowa's corporate customers or to
citizens on the street who are about to patronize a retailer
using Daishowa products.
Daishowa's involvement in the ongoing cultural genocide of
the Lubicon Cree began in 1989 when the Alberta government
granted Daishowa logging rights to 10,000 square kilometres of
unceded Lubicon territory.
In 1990 Daishowa opened its gigantic bleached kraft pulp
mill on the Peace River (the company's biggest overseas
investment ever), requiring some 11,000 trees daily. That
same year Daishowa began logging the Lubicon's ancestral
At the request of the Lubicon Nation, the Toronto-based
Friends of the Lubicon launched a consumer boycott campaign
against Daishowa in 1991. The Friends state that 47
companies, comprising 4,300 retail outlets across Canada, have
now joined the campaign and have chosen alternative paper
Daishowa claims the boycott has cost it $8 million to
date. The company lost the first court battle to muzzle its
critics last May. Unfortunately for Daishowa, the case was
heard by a judge who was acquainted with the Charter of Rights
But Daishowa lucked out on appeal, which demonstrates that
if you throw enough money at a problem for long enough, the
problem will disappear (along with democracy in this case).
According to Friends of the Lubicon, all Daishowa needed
to do to legitimately end the boycott campaign and win back
lost customers was issue a public statement guaranteeing the
company would not log or buy wood cut on unceded Lubicon
territory until a land rights settlement is reached with both
levels of government and a timber harvesting agreement has
been negotiatied with the Lubicon which respects Lubicon
wildlife and environmental concerns.
Daishowa's response? "The Friends of the Lubicon think
the livelihood of a hundred families is worth sacrificing for
giving some Indians some land rights," said Tom Cochrane,
Daishowa's director of corporate development, according to the
Feb. 8 edition of Toronto Varsity News.
At last the truth comes out: The adverse impact of our
rapacious activity is ultimately irrelvant, Daishowa is
essentially telling us, because the victims whose land and
livelihood we are destroying are just "some Indians."
Prior to 1980 less than ten percent of the Lubicon were on
welfare. Today that figure tops 95 percent. One third of the
population has contracted tuberculosis. Alcoholism, suicides
and still births are soaring.
The Lubicon are witnessing their own extermination. But
thanks to the Ontario Divisional Court and the bottomless
pockets of Daishowa, you can't be told.
Friends of the Lubicon can be contacted at 485 Ridelle
Ave., Toronto, Ont. M6B 1K6, ph: 416-763-7500, fax: 416-603-
- 30 -
Kim Goldberg is a Nanaimo Times columnist & freelance
journalist. Her latest article about political activism on
the Internet (complete with video clips of the Shuswap
Sundancers at Gustafsen Lake last summer) can be browsed at: