Friends of the Lubicon Decision - VICTORY!!!!!!!!!

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@arcos.org)
Tue, 14 Apr 1998 21:16:43 -0400


----------forwarded message------------
>SIERRA LEGAL DEFENCE FUND
>
>FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
>APRIL 14, 1998
>
>
>CONSUMER BOYCOTTS RULED LEGAL IN CANADA
>
>(Toronto)(Vancouver)  In a landmark ruling handed down today by the
>Ontario Court, a consumer boycott launched by Toronto-based Friends of
>the Lubicon was ruled to be not merely legal, but =93a model of  how suc=
h

>activities should be conducted in a democratic society.=94
>
>Dismissing the claims of forestry multinational Daishowa for a
permanent
>injunction, Mr. Justice James MacPherson observed that the protection
of
>the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms must be extended to protect

>political expression on issues of public importance.  =93The plight of
the
>Lubicon [Cree Nation of northern Alberta] is precisely the type of
issue
>that should generate widespread public discussion=94, said Justice
>MacPherson.
>
>The Friends began a consumer boycott in 1991, following the
announcement
>that the Province of Alberta had granted logging rights to Daishowa
over
>lands traditionally used and occupied by the Lubicon Cree Nation.  The
>Lubicon, already suffering from the effects of massive oil and gas
>development, are fighting to protect their lands while they attempt to
>negotiate a treaty with the Canadian government.
>
>Four years into the boycott, the corporation sued, claiming among other

>things that the boycott was an =93intentional interference with economic
>relations=94 of Daishowa and should be restrained by the Courts.
>
>At issue in the case was the ability of corporations to use the courts
>to silence public debate on matters of public interest, involving the
>corporation=92s activities.  Reasoning that corporate rights to
commercial
>expression have already found protection in the Charter the Court said,

>=93If the great principle of freedom of expression protects a corporatio=
n

>=85then is there any reason why the same principle should not protect a
>small group of consumers=85from saying to fellow consumers:  =93here is =
why

>you should not buy Daishowa=92s products?=94
>
>=93The ruling has profound implications for every activist, everyone who
>expresses opinion publicly,=94 said Friends=92 lawyer Karen Wristen of
>Sierra Legal Defence Fund.  =93The affirmation of the democratic right o=
f

>free expression in this judgment is a badly needed antidote to the
>growing sense of corporate control and domination of the political
>agenda that is perceived in the activist communities in which we work.=94

>
>While permitting the consumer boycott to proceed, the Court did impose
>some restrictions on the language to be used by the Friends in future
>communications.  Observing that the Friends=92 use of the word =93genoci=
de=94

>(to describe the process of cultural destruction in which the Lubicon
>find themselves embroiled) was carefully considered and honestly
>represented the Friends=92 viewpoint, Justice MacPherson found that the
>public would not have perceived the term to have been used in the sense

>urged at trial.  He ordered that the word should no longer be used; nor

>should there be any further reference to an alleged breach on
Daishowa=92s
>part of an agreement made with the Lubicon in 1988.
>
>For their part, the Friends will call for a moratorium on all boycott
>activities for the next ten days, to permit Daishowa time to decide
>whether or not they will give a clear, unequivocal and public
commitment
>to refrain from cutting timber, or buying timber cut from Lubicon lands

>until such time as the Lubicon land rights issue has been settled and
an
>agreement struck between the Lubicon and Daishowa for forestry
>operations which respect Lubicon environmental and wildlife concerns.
>
>The Friends of the Lubicon are a small, Toronto-based support group
>working to raise awareness of the plight of the Lubicon Cree Nation of
>Northern Alberta.
>
>Sierra Legal Defence Fund is a society incorporated under the B.C.
>Society Act, having its head office in Vancouver.  Operating as a
>charity, the Fund provides the services of lawyers and scientists free
>to groups and individuals fighting for environmental protection across
>Canada.
>
>
>For Further Information, Contact:
>
>Regarding the decision and its implications:
>
>Karen Wristen  Sierra Legal Defence Fund   604-685-5618
>
>Chris Tollefson        University of Victoria     250-721-8140
>
Regarding the boycott and future plans:

Kevin Thomas, Stephen Kenda and Ed Bianchi

416-763-7500