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ACTION ALERT: A vote for C-300 tomorrow is a vote for water justice

Mariano Abarca Roblero

Mariano Abarca Roblero

The Toronto Star reports that, “A two-year effort by a lone Toronto MP to curb abuses of Canadian mining companies abroad culminates in a vote in the Commons Wednesday (at 5:30 pm ET). Under Bill C-300 (An Act respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil or Gas in Developing Countries), Canadian oil and gas companies judged to be bad corporate citizens abroad would be deprived of political and financial support by the federal government. Most private members’ bills go nowhere but Liberal MP John McKay’s legislation passed second reading in the House of Commons in April 2009 by a vote of 137 to 133.”

“(McKay) can expect the support of 36 New Democrats and 47 Bloc Québécois members. But with most of the Conservatives’ 143 MPs expected to stand against Bill C-300, McKay will need the vast majority of his 75 Liberal colleagues to vote with him. And Liberal support is unpredictable. Some Liberals have joined with the Conservatives and the mining sector to argue that the bill will be impossible to apply in practice and will subject the industry to unsubstantiated allegations around the world.”

The Council of Canadians supports Bill C-300 and is asking its members to contact their Member of Parliament today to demand that they vote in favour of C-300 on Wednesday. As we have highlighted in past campaign blogs, those opposing Canadian-owned mining operations near their communities are often trying to protect their local water:

– Calgary-based Blackfire Exploration Ltd, a private mining company with interests in southern Mexico, has been accused of involvement in the murder of Mariano Abarca Roblero. He had blamed the company for contaminated local rivers and for the death of local crops and livestock. The mine has been indefinitely closed for “building roads without authorization, polluting and causing toxic emissions.” The Toronto Star article today reports that, “One of the advocates of tougher legislation who visited Ottawa recently was Mexican activist Jose Luis Abarca Montejo. His father, Mariano Abarca Roblero, was the community leader who spoke out against Calgary-based mining company Blackfire Exploration but was gunned down in front of his home in Chiapas last year.” More on this at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=2406.

– Vancouver-based Pacific Rim Mining Company owns the El Dorado gold mine in El Salvador. Since 2005, many residents of Cabañas have been trying to stop this mine. They are concerned the mine will threaten local water supplies (including the nearby Lempas River) and ruin their ability to grow crops. That river irrigates the country’s farming industry and supplies drinking water to more than half of residents in greater San Salvador. The mine would consume 30,000 litres of water a day, drawn from the same sources that currently provide local residents with water only once a week. Opponents of the mine – Dora ‘Alicia’ Recinos Sorto, Ramiro Rivera and Marcelo Rivera – were all murdered last year. More on this at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=2596.

The Toronto Star has also reported that, “Canadian mining companies are far and away the worst offenders in environmental, human rights and other abuses around the world, according to a global study commissioned by an industry association but never made public. …The problems involving Canada’s mining and exploration corporations go far beyond workplace issues. (The Canadian Centre for the Study of Resource Conflict report says) ‘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.’ …The study said the leading causes of incidents involving Canadian mining companies were related to community conflict, including ’significant negative cultural and economic disruption to a host community, as well as significant protests and physical violence’. The second most common cause of incidents involved environmental degradation, followed by unethical behaviour, which the Centre defines as operating in a state that is under embargo or careless disregard for human rights or local laws.” More on the study at http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/877438–canadian-mining-firms-worst-for-environment-rights-report.

Call your Member of Parliament today and demand that they support C-300. To find the contact information for your federal representative, please go to http://canadians.org/action/contact_reps.html.

The Liberal MPs who especially need to be called today are:

Larry Bagnell, Yukon
(613) 995-9368, Bagnell.L@parl.gc.ca

Carolyn Bennett, St. Paul’s (Toronto), Ontario
(613) 995-9666, Bennett.C@parl.gc.ca

Siabhan Coady, St. John’s South-Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and Labrador
(613) 992 0927, Coady.S@parl.gc.ca

Ken Dryden, York Centre (Toronto), Ontario
(613) 941-6339, Dryden.K@parl.gc.ca

Ralph Goodale, Wascana (Regina), Saskatchewan
(613) 947-1153, Goodale.R@parl.gc.ca

Martha Hall Findlay, Willowdale (Toronto), Ontario
(613) 992-4964, HallFindlay.M@parl.gc.ca

Michael Ignatieff, Etobicoke-Lakeshore (Toronto), Ontario
(613) 995-9364, Ignatieff.M@parl.gc.ca

Bob Rae, Toronto Centre, Ontario
(613) 992-5234, Rae.B@parl.gc.ca

Geoff Regan, Halifax West, Nova Scotia
(613) 996-3085, Regan.G@parl.gc.ca

The Toronto Star article is at http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/880907–mps-to-vote-on-bill-to-curb-mining-abuses.