On May 19, Lubicon supporters won an important victory in the Ontario courts. On that date, Ontario Court judge Frances Kitely rejected Daishowa Inc.'s application for an interim injunction against boycott activity by the Friends of the Lubicon. Daishowa is now appealing that decision.
Please call CPJ at (416)979-2443 before the court dates if you plan to attend. We need to know which date(s) you are available in order to schedule people or groups who have time flexibility. It is important to the Friends of the Lubicon's defense to show a significant and constant show of public support in the courtroom at all times during the three day proceedings.
The Daishowa boycott was launched as a means of pressuring Daishowa to make a commitment not to log the unceded territory of the Lubicon Lake Cree, pending a land-rights settlement and timber- harvesting agreement. It is feared that if Daishowa is granted an injunction against the boycott, they could commence clear-cutting Lubicon land this winter. (The logging of their land could deal the final blow to the already badly-battered Lubicon society).
This lawsuit is not a unique case. It is part of a movement called Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, or SLAPP. A recent article in the Globe and Mail quotes one U.S. judge's explanation of SLAPPs :
" [Slapps are] suits without substantial merit that are brought by private interests to stop citizens from exercising their political rights or to punish them for having done so. SLAPP suits function by forcing the target into the judicial arena where the SLAPP filer foists upon the target the expenses of a defence. The longer the litigation can be stretched out, the more litigation can be churned, the greater the expense that is inflicted, the closer the SLAPP filer moves to success."
SLAPPs divert public attention away from the real issues of corporate greed, environmental destruction, and human rights abuses. SLAPPs are a dangerous new trend in Canada. The outcome of this lawsuit could set an important precedent regarding your right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest. That means you!
The Lubicon Cree retain unextinguished aboriginal rights to their 10,000 sq. km. ancestral territory. Environmental damage caused by oil and gas development on their land has all but destroyed the Lubicon's previously self-sufficient traditional hunting and trapping economy. Today, the Lubicon people experience a 90% welfare rate, desperately poor living conditions, and a host of new health and social problems, such as alcoholism, suicides, and still births. The survival of this distinct aboriginal society is at stake.
Founded in 1988, the Friends of the Lubicon is a volunteer, non- profit, Toronto-based support group working with the Lubicon Lake Cree Nation of northern Alberta in their ongoing land rights struggle.
In 1988, Daishowa, and Alberta signed a forest management agreement giving Daishowa the logging rights to almost the entire unceded Lubicon territory. In 1990, a Daishowa subsidiary commenced logging on Lubicon land. More cuts were feared the following year. In response, the Friends of the Lubicon launched a consumer boycott of Daishowa products at the request of the Lubicon Nation in 1991. Since that time, the Friends of the Lubicon say that they have convinced over 47 companies and 4,300 retail outlets to stop buying Daishowa paper bags. In part due to boycott pressure, Daishowa has not logged on Lubicon land for the past 3 years. However, Daishowa has admitted that they won't stay out indefinitely.
If Daishowa wants to end the boycott, all they have to do is make a clear, public, and unequivocal commitment not to cut or to buy wood cut on unceded Lubicon Lake Nation territory until a land rights settlement has been reached with both levels of government and a timber harvesting agreement negotiated with the Lubicon which respects Lubicon wildlife and environmental concerns.
Instead of making this commitment, Daishowa is attempting to crush the boycott through the court system. In January 1995, Daishowa Inc. filed suit against the Friends of the Lubicon, seeking a court injunction to prevent the Friends of the Lubicon from secondary picketing, secondary boycotting and other pressure tactics, and suing individuals associated with the boycott for an unspecified amount in damages. Daishowa is claiming $5 million in lost sales. The trial is set to be heard in late fall of 1995, or winter of 1996. In the meantime, Daishowa applied for an interim injunction to prevent the Friends of the Lubicon from carrying on boycott activities until the time of the trial. On May 19th, Ontario Court Justice Kitely ruled that Daishowa had no grounds for an injunction against the Friends of the Lubicon and that secondary picketing, where Lubicon supporters hold informational pickets outside stores that use Daishowa products, is legal! It is this decision that Daishowa is appealing on October 24-25.
Further dates may also be scheduled.
The location will be somewhere in the Ontario court system at University and Queen in Toronto, but is not yet definite.
Call or e-mail CPJ for further details.
Executive Vice President
Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd.
666 Burrard Street, Suite 3500
Vancouver, B.C. V6C 2X8
Director, Corporate Development
Daishowa Forest Products Ltd.
Canada Trust Tower
P.O. Box 512, Suite 2110
For further information contact
Citizens for Public Justice at
phone: (416) 979-2443
fax: (416) 979-2458
or The Friends of the Lubicon
phone: (416) 763-7500
fax: (416) 603-2715
address: 485 Ridelle Ave.
Toronto, ON M6B 1K6
This message was posted by Citizens for Public Justice as part of its educational program encouraging Christian political action. CPJ is a national organization of citizens which promotes justice in Canadian public affairs. We respond to God's call for love, justice and stewardship through research, education and advocacy. You can contact CPJ at <firstname.lastname@example.org>