news | Thursday July 18, 2013

Imperial Canada Inc.: “two major Canadian mining corporations have been trying to prevent Canadians from ever seeing this book”

In a very well researched article published in FOCUS Magazine (February, 2013), Rob Wipond reported on the beyond reprehensible conduct of the world’s mining corporations, most of which are based in Canada, and on the fact that Talonbooks was legally bullied for attempting to publish (and finally publishing) the book Imperial Canada Inc..

Wipond opens his article with the story of Chandu Claver, a doctor from the Philippines who lived in a village near a large copper mine that was at various times partially owned by Canadian interests. Claver saw the effects of mining on the health of his community and spoke out about them, never suspecting that he would become the target of assassination attempts. He eventually had to flee the Philippines and now lives in Victoria, B.C., where he lives with his wife and children, and where he is freer to work toward justice.

“A powerful new book may help [Claver’s] efforts,” writes Wipond, introducing his in-depth discussion of Imperial Canada Inc.: Legal Haven of Choice for the World’s Mining Industries (Talonbooks, 2012).

The following are extracts from the section of the Wipond’s article that deals with the little-known history of the publication of Imperial Canada Inc..

Daring to ask why

… 75 per cent of the world’s mining companies are headquartered in Canada. It’s an astonishing statistic that obviously raises the question, “why?”

Two Quebec-based academic researchers, Alain Deneault and William Sacher, set out to answer that question in a searing and disturbing new book: Imperial Canada Inc.: Legal Haven of Choice for the World’s Mining Industries. Along the way, the authors examine a parallel troubling question: “why do so few Canadians know?”

Tellingly, two major Canadian mining corporations have been trying to prevent Canadians from ever seeing this book.

In … 2010, tiny Vancouver publisher Talonbooks announced on its website that Imperial Canada Inc. was being developed with Deneault and other collaborators. Within days, lawyers for the world’s biggest gold mining company, Canadian transnational Barrick, faxed Talonbooks a “demand” for copies of any parts of the manuscript-in-progress that made “direct or indirect reference to Barrick, Sutton Resources Ltd, or to any of their past or present subsidiaries, affiliates, directors or officers.” Barrick also sent the letter to all the authors, collaborators and translators, and threatened to sue everyone if they didn’t like what they saw. […]

“We were scared and we were intimidated,” explains Talonbooks President Kevin Williams. “We were also somewhat outraged by the fact [that we hadn’t] even published the book!’ It felt like an infringement of our civil liberties and our ability to have free speech.” […]

Most observers criticized the legal actions as “SLAPPs” – Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation. SLAPPs are typically libel lawsuits that corporations use to shut down public criticism by dragging shoestring-budget watchdog groups or small publishers through expensive, time-consuming court processes. Many U.S. states and European countries have crafted anti-SLAPP laws … Canadian governments, however, have been reluctant to pass anti-SLAPP laws. […]

Talonbooks never did show Barrick Imperial Canada Inc. However, Williams says the book’s content was refocused more on structural, overarching problems than on specific cases and companies. […]

And though mainstream media have so far ignored it, Imperial Canada Inc. is provocative. It’s essentially a 189-page argument, buttressed comprehensively with reference footnotes, that provides an overview of reams of damning research about Canada’s pre-eminent role in mining’s devastating global impacts on both the environment and human rights.

Wipond goes on to discuss the content of the book in greater depth, addressing key issues: the status of Canada as a tax haven for mining corporations, and the support offered and the corruption perpetrated not only by investors (whether wittingly or not) but by the Canadian government.

Like Claver and Deneault and Sacher, Wipond calls for public education on the matter and hopes that solidarity and activist work can make a difference. Wipond also quotes Deneault, who has been encouraged by recent bills that, while flawed and fleeting (they went un-passed), made attempts at righting some relevant wrongs.

Also note that VICE Magazine has recently taken up the torch as well; see our coverage of the July 2013 article by Dave Dean.

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