Fighting Canadian Corporations and Environmental Crime

Panel at the Law Union Annual Conference March 25, 2006, 1:30-3:00
Moderator: Sarah Dover, Articling Student, Birchall Northey LLP

Canadian mining operations now span more than 100 countries – an expansion that has left some of the world’s worst environment disasters in its wake. The record of this industry within Canada has also been marked by bulldozing local interests, environmental destruction and violation of indigenous rights. This panel will compare legal options for holding Canadian mining corporations accountable for their actions within Canada and abroad in anticipation of the federal government considering new regulation to address environmental harms and human rights abuses by Canadian mining companies committed outside of Canada. Panellists Justin Duncan – is a Staff Lawyer with Sierra Legal Defence Fund in Toronto. His recent legal battles include victories in protecting a provincial park from the re-opening of a road and defending municipal pesticide bylaws. He is actively involved in public legal education to give Canadian activists tools to battle corporations and governments that would harm the environment. Grahame Russell – is the co-director of Rights Action, a non-governmental organization that supports community-controlled development and human rights projects in Mexico, Central America and Haiti, and that carries out education and activism work in Canada and the US related to global human rights and development issues. Grahame works on community impacts in the South of Canadian mining operations. Sara Seck – is a phD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School specializing in the regulation of Canadian mining corporations abroad. She delivered the keynote address, titled “Exploding the Myths: Why Home States are Reluctant to Regulate”, at the November 2005 multi-stakeholder round table on “Regulating Canadian Mining Companies Operating Internationally” hosted by MiningWatch. Catherine Coumans – is the Research Coordinator and responsible for the Asia-Pacific Program at MiningWatch Canada which co-ordinates the public interest response to the threats to public health, water and air quality, fish and wildlife habitat and community interests posed by irresponsible mineral policies and practices in Canada and around the world. Catherine is intimately familiar with the current effort to push the federal government towards regulating Canadian mining companies outside Canada and sits on the an Advisory Group to the government’s roundtable process on Corporate Social Responsibility and Mining.

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