Thursday, October 06, 2005

Email message #1


Dear Sir,

I am writing to inform you that I am aware of Ascendant Exploration's actions in Intag, Ecuador and that I support the resistance to mining there.

I am aware of the multiple techniques that are being used to try and break this resistance. They include:

  • mail theft

  • the interruption and monitoring of phone and email services

  • a campaign of disinformation and lies against community leaders and organizations

  • intimidation, including armed guards, death threats, and violence against property

  • political corruption, illegal land claims, and illegal concessions.

I am also aware of the false and malicious libel suits that have been proposed against Periodico Intag in reaction to their attempts to educate the Intag community and also against Polibio Perez and Jose Serrano. I request Ascendant Exploration terminate these unfounded libel suits. I protest your appointment of General Cesar Bolivar Villaics to your board as "Community Relations and Political Liason." General Villaics has a past history widely denounced by the Ecuadorian human rights community. His threatening posture at community meetings causes me grave concern for the safety of the people of Intag, and shows Ascendant Exploration's willingness to use violence to break community resistance. Such willingness was demonstrated on Saturday, November 13th when a pair of bodyguards assaulted anti-mining activists and destroyed their property (photographic equipment) in Garcia Moreno during a speech by General Villaics.

Community resistance to mining is much larger than you may think. An active solidarity campaign in the United States and Asia is underway. It seeks to expose the actions of Ascendant Exploration to the investor community, such as the Toronto Stock Exchange, as well as those mining companies Ascendant Exploration hopes to sell its concessions to. Additionally, this campaign is committed to the defense of the rights of the people of Intag against the unethical actions of Ascendant Exploration. I pledge my support to the people of Intag to hold you and your company accountable for your actions.

I request that Ascendant Exploration terminate its business activities in Intag before you inflict further harm upon the honorable and hardworking members of the Intag community.

In Solidarity with the people of Intag,

Email Message #2


The Honourable Pierre Pettigrew
Minister of Foreign Affairs Canada
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1A 0G2

The Honourable R. John Efford
Minister of Natural Resources Canada
Natural Resources Canada
580 Booth Street, 21st Floor, Rm: C7-1
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1A 0E4

The Honourable David L Emerson
Minister, Industry Canada
235 Queen Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1A 0H5

Dear Honourable Minister,

I am writing to urge you to adopt the recommendations contained in the Fourteenth Report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade and to take action around a number of urgent cases involving Canadian mining companies operating abroad. I am deeply concerned about the social and environmental impacts of Canadian mining companies overseas and I find it disturbing that the Government of Canada has thus far failed to take meaningful action to address this obvious problem. The above-mentioned Parliamentary report provides you with an opportunity to demonstrate leadership on this important issue.

In late June, the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade adopted a report stating that they were “concerned that Canada does not yet have laws to ensure that the activities of Canadian mining companies in developing countries conform to human rights standards, including the rights of workers and of indigenous peoples.” The report argues that “more must be done to ensure that Canadian companies… conduct their activities in a socially and environmentally responsible manner and in conformity with international human rights standards.” Among other things, the report urges the Government of Canada to:

* Condition Canadian support “on companies meeting clearly defined corporate social responsibility and human rights standards...”

* “Establish clear legal norms in Canada to ensure that Canadian companies and residents are held accountable when there is evidence of environmental and/or human rights violations associated with the activities of Canadian mining companies.” And;

* “Work with like-minded countries to integrate and mainstream international human rights standards in the work of international financial institutions (IFIs) such as the World Bank…”

The Standing Committee has requested “a comprehensive government response to this Report” and it is my understanding that the Government is currently deciding how to proceed. I am writing to express my support for the recommendations outlined in the report. I want to urge you to ensure that these recommendations are adopted by the Government of Canada and I would like you to please provide me with information outlining the steps that you are personally taking to ensure that this occurs.

The committee’s report also calls on the Government to “conduct an investigation of any impact of TVI Pacific’s Canatuan mining project in Mindanao on the indigenous rights and human rights of people in the area and on the environment, and table a report on this investigation in Parliament within 90 days.” I support this recommendation and I believe that the Government should also call on TVI to suspend all activities pending the outcome of this investigation. I also strongly believe that the Government should launch investigations into the activities of Ascendant Copper Corporation’s Junin project in Ecuador and Glamis Gold’s Marlin Mine in Guatemala, and call on these companies to suspend their activities pending the outcome of the Government’s investigation. I would like you to please provide me with information on what your office is doing to ensure that the problems associated with these projects are addressed.

Finally, I am appalled that the World Bank and other international financial institutions have not yet made clear and binding commitments to uphold international human rights standards. Please provide me with information on what you are doing to ensure that these institutions are no longer able to ignore international law.

As you know, more money is raised for the global mining industry in Canada than in any other country in the world and more than half of the world’s mining companies list their shares on Canadian capital markets. Canada has a responsibility to develop mechanisms to hold these companies accountable for their actions overseas. This is a responsibility that the Government of Canada has failed to embrace. I hope that the above-mentioned Parliamentary report will prove to be an opportunity to address this glaring and damaging failure.

Thank you,

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