Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Little Buffalo Lake, Alberta
June 14, 1997
Enclosed for your information are copies of correspondence and other materials pertaining to efforts by Japanese forestry giant Daishowa to use Canadian law and the Canadian courts to suppress a consumer boycott of Daishowa paper products. The boycott was organized by supporters of the Lubicon Lake Indian Nation whose unceded traditional territory Daishowa threatens to clear-cut at the rate of some 11,000 trees per day.
In January of 1995 Daishowa announced that it would be asking the Canadian courts for a temporary injunction of the Lubicon boycott pending the hearing of Daishowa's application for a permanent injunction. In May of 1995 the application for a temporary injunction was denied by Ontario Court Judge Francis Kiteley but she also ordered boycott organizers to stop using the word "genocide" to describe the impact of unbridled resource exploitation activity on Lubicon society, because, she said, the term "genocide" cannot be used to characterize Daishowa's actions to-date, and she also ordered boycott organizers to stop referring to a meeting in March of 1988 during which Daishowa agreed to stay out of Lubicon territory pending settlement of Lubicon land rights, because, she said, the existence of that agreement isn't proven.
The Kiteley decision was overturned on appeal in January of 1996 and a temporary injunction of the boycott was ordered which is still in effect. More detailed information on this frightening use of the Canadian courts to effectively suppress free speech and deny consumers information on corporate misdeeds is available in Lubicon mail-outs dated February 7, 1995 , September 7, 1995 and March 28, 1996.
(Original postings of those mailouts are:
On Friday, June 13th Daishowa lawyers sent legal counsel for boycott organizers a letter threatening to bring contempt proceedings over comments made by boycott organizers and by a lawyer for boycott organizers during a television program on injunction of the boycott. The letter claims that remarks made during that television program are in contempt of Justice Kiteley's order not to use the accurate word "genocide" to describe what's being done to the Lubicon people.
Apparently Justice Kiteley's order not to say anything "intemperate" about Daishowa still stands, even though her decision declining to grant a temporary injunction was overturned. So goes it with Daishowa and the Canadian courts.
The irony of this huge, wealthy, powerful transnational corporation threatening people concerned about human rights and the environment with multi-million dollar damages and contempt charges over being called a bully is near overwhelming.
People concerned about the plight of the Lubicon, about the environment, about free speech, about freedom of the press, about consumer rights and about transnational corporations bludgeoning into submission anyone who dares question their actions should write Daishowa Executive Vice President Tom Hamaoka and let him know what you think of the tactics of his company and what Daishowa can do with it's paper products.
People wishing to join the boycott of Daishowa paper products are encouraged to contact the Toronto Friends of the Lubicon.
Mr. Hamaoka's mailing address is:
Executive Vice President
Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd.
1095 Pender Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6E 2M6
The Toronto Friends of the Lubicon can be reached at:
Friends of the Lubicon
485 Ridell Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M6B 1A6
Lerner & Associates
Barristers and Solicitors
Suite 2400, Box 95
130 Adelaide Street West
Toronto, Ontario M5H 3P5
June 13, 1997
Ms. Karen Wristen
Sierra Legal Defence Fund
131 Water Street
Vancouver BC V6B 1H6
Dear Ms. Wristen:
Re: Daishowa Inc. V. Friends of the Lubicon et al.
We have been provided with the transcript of a segment which aired on the CBC Newsworld program "Big Life" on Tuesday, June 10, 1997. A copy of the transcript is enclosed. We are of the view that statements made during this segment are in contempt of the order of Madame Justice Kiteley dated May 19, 1995. In particular, the reference by Min Sook Lee to a connection between "Daishowa" plans to "clear cut" and the "genocide" of the Lubicon, the reference by Kevin Thomas to "Daishowa" as "the bullies" destroying Lubicon society, and the comments by Clayton Ruby about the failure "to honour treaty with Indians" and "Respect Indian land" are, in our view, precisely what Madame Justice Kiteley's order prevents Friends of the Lubicon and those with knowledge of the order from stating or insinuating.
We consider this incident to be serious in nature. We intend to raise it with Madame Justice Kiteley by letter and at the next case conference. We also intend to raise it with the trial judge, Mr. Justice MacPherson. In addition, we are seeking instructions from our clients as to whether to formally act on these statements by bringing contempt proceedings.
We insist that you immediately communicate our position to your clients and advise them to cease any conduct in contempt of court order. In addition, either you, your clients or Clayton Ruby should advise CBC Newsworld that statements made in this segment are, in our view, in contempt and accordingly should not be re-broadcast. We understand CBC Newsworld plans to re-broadcast the segment on the evening of Saturday, June 14, 1997.
In light of the seriousness of this matter, we expect an immediate response from you to this letter.
Yours very truly.
Peter R. Jervis
June 13, 1997
Mr. Peter Jervis
Lerner & Associates BY FACSIMILE TRANSMISSION
Barristers & Solicitors TO NO. (416) 867-9192
2400 - 130 Adelaide St. West
Box 95. Continental Bank of Canada Building
Toronto, ON M5H 3P5
Dear Mr. Jervis:
Re: Friends of the Lubicon ats Daishowa Inc.
I acknowledge receipt of yours of today's date concerning the CBC Newsworld broadcast og "Big Life". I have reviewed the transcript and do not agree with your assessment that anything said by either my clients or Mr. Ruby constitutes contempt of court.
As for Min Sook Lee, she is a journalist with CBC and I have no authority to tell her wht she may or may not say. If you feel that the repeat broadcast would violate the terms of Mme. Justice Kitley's Order, you have appropriate remedies against the CBC.
Yours very truly,
Karen G. Wristen
CBC Newsworld - Big Life, with Daniel Richler June 10, 1997, 11 PM
Reporter: Min Cook Lee
Kevin: Kevin Thomas (Friends Of The Lubicon)
Ruby: Clayton Ruby (Lawyer)
Steve: Steve Kenda (Friends Of The Lubicon)
Announcer: Now as a good citizen and consumer, if I have a complaint with a certain company's philosophy or policy; what do I do? I boycott my product, right? Say for example, Daishowa. Now, Daishowa is a huge multinational pulp and paper corporation that happens to have timber rights on traditional Lubicon Cree land.
A little while ago a group called Friends of the Lubicon began informing consumers which companies were buying paper products from Daishowa. For example, Pizza Pizza. Buying a piece of Pizza Pizza pizza, they said, meant that in some way you were helping Daishowa stay in business. As a result, many consumers who did feel bad about logging practices there stopped buying pizza. Next, Pizza Pizza stopped buying its paper products from Daishowa. Victory for the little guy - down with the multinationals! Case closed, or is it? Because as Min Sook Lee reports this case is about to blow wide open again.
Reporter: How do people make their voices heard when they disagree with the powers that be? When it seems like governments, big business or media aren't listening? There are a lot of things. We've starved ourselves, spray painted seals, chained ourselves to fences, or simply stopped buying things like, say, tuna packed with dolphins. These things have worked, especially the last one. Boycotting products made by the companies we hate is one of the most important weapons at our disposal - as the consumer, as the little guy. Case in point, the Lubicon First Nations People of Alberta. The Lubicon called for an international boycott of paper products made by Daishowa, a Japanese pulp and paper company. The Lubicon say the company's plans to clear cut ancient and disputed territory would constitute the genocide of their people.
Kevin: All along we've said that what's happened to the Lubicon, with them losing their land and their livelihood, and then having their society destroyed is what is going to happen to the rest of society if we let these bullies push people around.
Reporter: A group called Friends of the Lubicon organized an information campaign aimed at consumers of Daishowa paper products. If you bought donuts from Country Style they came in a paper box made by Daishowa. Same with an order of the Colonel's finest, bagged by Daishowa. Holt Renfrew, Bootleggers, Cultures - all used Daishowa paper products. That is, until Friends of the Lubicon persuaded them to stop buying from Daishowa. There were holdouts like Pizza Pizza but not for long. Picketers persuaded them and Woolworths that they were better off using a different bag. It could have been a happy ending for the Lubicon and their friends, but Daishowa fought back. In an unprecedented move they sued the little guy for big bucks - some five million dollars. Their lawsuit is based on some dusted off, obscure tort laws.
Ruby: SLAPP is a suit, and it started in the United States, where a big powerful company hires lawyers. And because they've got trillions of dollars, they sue. They sue everybody in sight. They sue all the environmental protesters, all the people who are trying to organize against them. Some of those suits have merit, most of them do not. But the object of it is not win the lawsuit, the object is to bankrupt those who you are suing by the high cost of litigation.
Reporter: Basically, Daishowa is trying to prove that the Friends of the Lubicon consumer boycott constituted an unnatural interference between its relationship with its customers like Pizza Pizza and Bootlegger. This, they claim, made it impossible for them to make dollars, therefore they should get dollars - five million of them. But most importantly, if Daishowa wins it will change the very nature of consumer advocacy in Canada.
Ruby: If the precedent stands there's going to be very little consumer organizing in this country. Unlike the United States, there'll be absolutely no chance for people to get together and say, "We're going to follow someone's products to the marketplace and if you do business with them, because they've done a wrong thing, such as fail to honour treaty with Indians, fail to respect Indian land, we're going to boycott anybody who does business with them. That will become impossible. The whole consumer boycott idea will be a non starter in Canada.
Kevin: People have been stomped on for speaking out about issues of public importance in their country, in their own country. These Japanese multinationals are using the Canadian courts to shut down a group of Canadian citizens from speaking about important issues in their own country.
Steve: I think that we could lose. I think it's a little bit difficult to imagine what will happen when we lose.
Kevin: We could picket all day long at the head office in Edmonton and nothing goes on there. There's no chance of influencing company behaviour by a boycott there. They want the strike and the picketers where it won't harm them economically.
Reporter: There are just a few well tread paths towards political expression. Boycotts and pickets are one of the time honoured routes ordinary citizens have travelled and now we're being told we're trespassers? Is it right for a corporation to disallow consumers from exercising their rights to let you know about the background of a corporation's activities, and then the right to decide not to purchase products based on this kind of information'? This isn't just a story about one small group of people and their cause.
It's a story about power - the use, control and abuse of it.