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Council of Canadians protests OceanaGold investor-state challenge

Morgan-Welden (centre) at the action. Photo by MISN.

Morgan-Welden (centre) at the action. Photo by MISN.

The Council of Canadians joined with the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN) yesterday in a “Stop the Suits! Close the (Kangaroo) Court” protest in Toronto.

MISN reports, “Mining Injustice Solidarity Network and allies carried out a public theatre action in anticipation of an imminent ruling from a little-known arbitration tribunal at the World Bank that could force El Salvador to pay Canadian-Australian mining firm OceanaGold US$301 million for denying a gold mining permit. The tribunal was performed in front of First Canadian Place, the building where OceanaGold’s Toronto office is located, and included a Kangaroo ‘judge’, two tribunal members, and representatives from OceanaGold. Protestors were present to denounce this ‘Kangaroo Court’ and condemn the lawsuit for attempting to rob El Salvador and punish an entire country for trying to protect its water.”

They add, “The protestors were joined by two guests from El Salvador who addressed the tribunal – Yanira Cortez, the Deputy Attorney for the Environment fo El Salvador’s Human Rights Prosecutor’s Office, and Marcos Galvez, President of the Association for the Development of El Salvador. The speakers highlighted how investor-state arbitration threatens democratic decision-making, public health and the environment here and beyond our borders. The protestors then delivered nearly 175,000 signatures on a petition condemning OceanaGold’s lawsuit to the Canadian Trade Commissioner’s Office.”

Toronto-based Council of Canadians organizer Ailish Morgan-Welden took part in yesterday’s protest as one of the characters in the ‘Kangaroo Court’.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow and Blue Planet Project campaigner Meera Karunananthan have commented, “Oceana Gold’s investor-state dispute settlement is one of nearly 200 new cases being heard at the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes. ISDS has become a powerful weapon for some of the most environmentally destructive corporations in the world. However, corporations are only able to sue the states who sign trade agreements or investment treaties containing ISDS provisions. …Getting rid of ISDS in itself won’t solve the environmental crisis. But it would give communities like those in El Salvador the ability to develop their own environmental strategies without the threat of being bullied by abusive multinational corporations.”

The Blue Planet Project contributed to last week’s tour by Cortez and Galvez who brought their message to Montreal, Ottawa-Gatineau and Toronto.

For more on the Oceana Gold challenge, please see the campaign blogs here and here.