The Tyee – Stephen Harper's Endless Campaign for Mining Profits
his is the second of two pieces drawn, with permission, from Chapter 2 of The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper's Foreign Policy by Yves Engler, newly published. The first part is here. Engler's next author's event is Nov. 27 at Carleton University, 2:45 p.m., Room A220, Loeb Building, Ottawa.]
Time and again Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has used diplomatic trips to support controversial mining projects. Canada-based Barrick Gold Corporation, the world’s largest gold producer, gained important support for its Pascua Lama operations, which spurred large-scale protests, during his July 2007 trip to Chile. The prime minister visited the company's Chilean office and said: "Barrick follows Canadian standards of corporate social responsibility." He was greeted with signs from mine opponents stating, "Harper go home" and "Canada: What's HARPERing here?"
During a Nov. 2007 visit to Tanzania Harper once again met representatives of Barrick, which had more than $1 billion invested in the East African country. Days before meeting the prime minister, Barrick officials claimed a strike at one of its Tanzanian mines was illegal and looked to replace a thousand striking miners. To protect its North Mara mine Barrick employed 300 security officers -- and paid part of the salary for two dozen police officers -- linked to seven violent deaths from July 2005 to late 2008. The Oct. 2011 Globe and Mail Business magazine reported on a Tanzanian lawyer organization's claim that 19 villagers were killed by police and security guards at the North Mara mine between Jan. 2009 and June 2010. The victims were usually searching for gold.
Under Harper all levels of Canadian diplomacy have promoted mining. Anthony Bebbington, director of the Graduate School of Geography at Clark University, told the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development in February 2012 that a "sub-secretary in a [Latin American] ministry of energy and mines" told him "as far as I can tell, the Canadian ambassador here is a representative for Canadian mining companies." The Massachusetts-based academic also quoted an unnamed Latin American environment minister, who complained about Canadian lobbying and mining, saying: "I don't know if Canada has been quite so discredited in its history."
Humanists for Social Justice and Environmental Action supports Human Rights, Social and Economic Justice, Environmental Activism and Planetary Ethics in North America & Globally, with particular reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other Human Rights UN treaties and conventions listed above.