(eng)Mining: Mitsubishi Blackmails Canada

The Anarchives (tao@lglobal.com)
Wed, 17 Apr 1996 14:47:06 +0000 (GMT)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 16 Apr 1996 16:42:56 GMT
From: Kim Goldberg <at491@FreeNet.Carleton.CA>

The Cheslatta Carrier Nation in Burns Lake, B.C., has been fighting
this development. The Cheslatta initiated the court proceeding
mentioned below.

Originally published in the Nanaimo Times
Nanaimo, British Columbia
Tuesday, April 9, 1996, page A5

All Rights Reserved By Author
Kim Goldberg: at491@freenet.carleton.ca

Can we say 'blackmail'?
Our ambassador appears eager to do Mitsubishi's bidding
(c) Kim Goldberg, 1996

Who's running this country anyway - our duly elected
government or foreign multinationals?
Last month, every Canadian who could read a newspaper
discovered that Canada's ambassador to Japan was using his
position not to represent Canada's interests abroad but to pimp
for Mitsubishi who had grown annoyed at Ottawa's heal-dragging
over the environmental approval needed for the proposed
Huckleberry copper mine near Houston, B.C.
"I recently met with several prominent members of Japan's
mining community," Ambassador Donald Campbell told Canada's
deputy environment minister in a February letter, obtained by the
Cheslatta Carrier (Native) Nation through Access to Information.
"In our discussions, it was made clear to me that the nature
and complexity of the environmental assessment process in Canada
and its potential impact on the critical path of mining
investment projects is of considerable concern," Campbell
continued on behalf of his defacto clients.
But why stop with vague threats when you can deliver an
ultimatum? "While the Japanese mining companies (led by
Mitsubishi Materials) involved in Huckleberry do not dispute the
need for environmental impact studies, their participation will
be in question if the project does not receive Federal approval
by mid-March," warned Campbell, a true-blue Mulroney appointee
who was previously responsible for coordinating the Canada-U.S.
Free Trade Agreement.
Under Mulroney, Campbell was also deputy minister for
International Trade, which oversees the Asia-Pacific Foundation,
which was chaired by the head of Mitsubishi Canada until last
"...the timing of the Federal Government decision with
respect to Huckleberry is of the utmost importance," Campbell
continued. "Unnecessary delays will place the project and, more
importantly, other downstream Japanese mining investment in
Canada in jeopardy," he concluded.
Can we say "blackmail," boys and girls? And what did our
government do after the story broke and Ambassador Campbell's
letter was widely reported? Did Prime Minister Jean Chretien
recall Campbell and advise him to withdraw from public service so
he could work fulltime as a corporate lobbyist? No.
Did Canada's new environment minister, Sergio Marchi, express
outrage over this blatant attempt to strongarm his department and
the country's new Environmental Assessment Act? No.
The Vancouver office of the Canadian Environmental Assessment
Agency blithely assured the Vancouver Sun that "we're not a
process that responds to lobbying for lobbying's sake. The
process has not been changed one bit because of that letter."
Two weeks later, Mitsubishi got its green light on Huckleberry.
Some would call it coincidence.
The Huckleberry decision sets a dangerous precedent. This
$137 million project was the first major resource development in
this province (and one of the first in the country) to be
reviewed under the allegedly more stringent criteria of B.C.'s
and Canada's new environmental assessement laws.
The provincial government okayed the project last December
after a dubious environmental review, which was so flawed that
its validity is now being challenged in B.C. Supreme Court.
With the B.C. government providing a $15 million infrastructure
loan for the project, Premier Glen Clark recently told reporters
Ottawa should speed up its own environmental review of
After sufficient threats and pressure were relayed through
Ambassador Campbell on behalf of the Japanese consortium, that's
precisely what Ottawa did.
And what will Canadians get in exchange for the environmental
damage wreaked by this huge open pit mine extracting 70 million
pounds of copper annually? The most minimal number of jobs
possible. All ore will be shipped to Japan for processing and
smelting by Mitsubishi.
With another 34 mining projects up for review in B.C.,
foreign multinationals the world over must be licking their chops
in gleeful anticipation of the asset-stripping opportunities that
lie ahead.

- 30 -

Kim Goldberg is a Nanaimo Times columnist.