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NEWS: Fantino speaks about CIDA-mining industry partnership in Toronto

Fantino and Harper.

Fantino and Harper

Harper’s minister of international co-operation Julian Fantino is speaking at a conference jointly organized by the World Economic Forum and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) this morning in Toronto. The forum coincides with the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference.

The Globe and Mail reports, “In a sign that CIDA views the industry as a key element of its push to deliver foreign aid in tandem with private sector activities abroad, Mr. Fantino will address a group on Saturday morning that is expected to include foreign ministers, non-governmental organizations and representatives of some of the biggest mining companies in Canada.”

“CIDA’s approach to mining has been controversial since Mr. Fantino’s predecessor, Bev Oda, announced in 2011 that the agency would finance three NGOs to run aid projects alongside Canadian mining companies in Burkina Faso, Peru and Ghana. …Opponents of the arrangement say Canadian mining companies generally make poor partners because some have been accused of environmental and human rights abuses. …A 2009 report by the Canadian Centre for the Study of Resource Conflict identified more than 50 incidents over a 10-year period in which Canadian mining companies were allegedly involved in conflicts with local communities, human-rights abuses, environmental damage or unethical practices.”

“Mr. Fantino said he can’t guarantee that all companies act ethically, but he believes many are committed to following best practices. ‘I’m not in a position to give an absolute housekeeping seal of approval on everything that happens in the industry,’ he said.”

Water protection
In March 2012, former Common Frontiers coordinator Rick Arnold wrote in Embassy magazine, “One of these projects connects CIDA, Barrick Gold, and World Vision in Peru. …Opposition to Barrick’s presence in the Quiruvilca district (north-west of Lima) goes back several years. …In 2011 (Barrick) carried out 366 perforations in a wet zone (for its proposed open-pit Laguna Sur mine) close to five small lakes that comprise a catchment area providing clean water for some 8,000 farmers downstream. …A contingent of farmers and rural dwellers from the district (were) in Lima on Feb. 9, 2012 to join thousands of others from across Peru in the National March for Water. ….Quiruvilca-area farmers (chanted) ‘Water is life, and we are going to defend our lakes’.”

Poverty alleviation
And today’s Globe and Mail article highlights, “Jamie Kneen, a spokesman for MiningWatch Canada, said the idea that resource extraction will address poverty is ‘mostly wishful thinking’, in part because of the lasting environmental damage mines can create. In addition, many countries export raw minerals, rather than processing them domestically, limiting the opportunities for longer-term development. ‘There’s no evidence that it works,’ he said. ‘If you look at the success stories … wealth is being created, but poverty is also being created at the same time.'” Last November, the newspaper also reported, “MiningWatch Canada says the projects CIDA has pursued so far amount to subsidization of Canadian mining companies… ‘This is not about development, it’s about helping our mining companies deal with the conflicts they’re facing on the ground,’ said Catherine Coumans, a research co-ordinator for the organization.”

For more, including comments by Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow and Blue Planet Project water campaigner Meera Karunananthan, please go to:
NEWS: Quebec may form new aid agency given Harper’s CIDA agenda to promote mining
NEWS: Fantino signals new foreign aid policy that benefits mining companies
VIEW: CIDA, World Vision support of Barrick Gold mine in Peru misplaced, says Arnold