Here is a link to The Tyee, a very liberal Vancouver e-newspaper. The link takes you directly to an article about a Canadian mining firm, Copper Mesa Mining, that is being sued by lawyer Murray Klippenstein of Toronto, over an incident in Ecuador in 2006. This is the gist of the story:
In early December 2006, over 50 heavily armed security guards, mostly ex-soldiers, were hired to reach company concessions and set up camp. Local residents had been tipped off and gathered along the narrow dirt road that the company-hired trucks would have to pass. When they arrived, Ramírez and others tried to urge the armed men to turn around. But instead, the security agents sprayed tear gas into their faces from only a metre away and fired their weapons into the air, injuring one man, also a plaintiff in the case. When the residents didn’t back down, the guards finally retreated.
The incident was caught on film by a European student researching the controversy and is retold as part of the recent film Under Rich Earth by director Malcolm Rogge that debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. It has also been denounced in a complaint to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.
The thing that makes this case so fascinating is that also being sued is the Toronto Stock Exchange which was asked prior to the incident not to list the company involved. Apparently the TMX let them list, they raised $25 million, and as the lawsuite alleges, it was some of that money that financed the incident.
All this breaks new ground. It is easy to brush this off as just another example of tree-hugging friends and their lawyers attacking innocent miners. For all I know, that may be the case. For all I know, the TMX may be lily-pure innocent. Maybe this is not a legal issue at all but one of international finance.
I am sure the courts will scratch their heads.
The lawyer involve in this case has a history of taking on long causes. I quote again from the linked report:
Klippenstein is perhaps best known for his representation of the estate and family of native activist Dudley George, who was shot and killed by police in Ipperwash Provincial Park in Ontario in 1995. This lawsuit revealed deep political involvement from the premier’s office and resulted in a landmark public inquiry.
Maybe this is but an example of racial attitudes in mining and in Canadian affairs. Consider the “broader goals” of those bringing this case:
Their broader goals for legal regulations of Canadian mining companies echo what the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade (SCFAIT) and the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and other civil society groups have already been saying.
Nobody ever said that building an oversees empire would be easy.