THUNDER BAY, ON, Jan. 29 /CNW/ – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler and Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) spokesperson John Cutfeet are outraged by the Government of Ontario’s attack on Aboriginal and treaty rights during Friday’s court proceeding in the case of KI vs. Platinex. “Ontario’s legal argument dismisses constitutionally protected Aboriginal and treaty rights based on First Nation culture and spiritual connection to the land,” said KI spokesperson John Cutfeet after the third court proceeding since Toronto-based mining company Platinex sued his northern First Nation community for $10 billion after they requested drilling equipment be removed from their traditional territory last Spring. “The mining act is an outdated piece of legislation, whereby the McGuinty government grants permits without consulting the First peoples where lands will be affected by the various impacts of mining. The McGuinty government claims the provincial mining act trumps all constitutionally protected rights recognized under section 35 of the Canadian constitution for all First Nations.” Government of Ontario lawyer Owen Young argued for intervener status in Thunder Bay’s Ontario Superior Court Friday January 26, 2007. “It’s clear the McGuinty government has a twisted interpretation of the spirit and intent of James Bay Treaty 9, not to mention sixteen years of Supreme Court decisions that have ruled for consultation and accommodation with First Nations prior to land exploration, let alone drilling,” said NAN Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. Despite a community declared moratorium on resource development recent Supreme Court rulings to consult and accommodate, including Mikisew (November 2005), Platinex received permission from the Government of Ontario to drill in KI territory February 2006. KI brought a constitutional challenge to the Ontario Mining Act June 2006, claiming the Act fails to prioritize Aboriginal and Treaty rights deeming it unconstitutional. In July an Ontario Superior Court decision halted Platinex from drilling in KI territory until the mining company and Province of Ontario fulfil obligations to consult with the First Nation community. In this decision, Justice Patrick Smith specifically referenced the impacts of mining on not only the right of First Nations to fish, hunt, and trap, but also on impacts to the cultural and spiritual connection to the land. The next scheduled date for court proceedings is April 2, 2007 in Thunder Bay. KI is a signatory to the 1929 adhesion of James Bay Treaty 9. The community is located approximately 600 km north of Sioux Lookout.
For further information: Jenna Young, NAN Director of Communications at (807) 625-4952; or John Cutfeet, KI Spokesperson at (807) 627-9062
Flaviano Bianchini, an Italian national, working as a volunteer for the Guatemalan environmental group Colectivo Madre Selva, which is investigating the environmental effects of Canadian mining companies Goldcorp (formerly Glamis Gold), has been threatened. At a press conference in Guatemala City on January 5, 2007, he presented a report on the pollution allegedly caused by a gold mine to the Tzala River in Sipakapa, located in the department of San Marcos. The report states that the river, which is the main source of water for indigenous people in the region, has been contaminated with heavy metals. The national press picked up the story the following day.
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Amy Goodman: Democrats criticized the Republican-controlled “rubber-stamp Congress,” which failed to provide adequate oversight of the Bush administration. Now that the Democratic Party has control of Congress, the onus is upon them to restore law and order, to investigate the use of torture and to demand prosecution of those who engaged in it.
Today Sunday January 28 the Cerrejon and Sintracarbon negotiating committees arrived at an agreement on the fundamental points from our bargaining proposal like Wages, Health, Education, Loans, Transportation, Subcontracted/Temporary Workers, and Communities.
In the next few days the negotiating committees will be working on the language for the points agreed upon in order to sign a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and in this way bring an end to the conflict.
Sintracarbon is grateful for the outpouring of support we received from the workers, the temporary and subcontracted workers, the delegates, the union leaders, the legal and union advisors, the Guajira community, the communities displaced and affected by the mine, our sister organizations including civic, social, popular, peasant, union, and the international community and unions. Without their unconditional support this agreement would not have been possible.
Among the 33 “forgotten” areas in dire need of funding are Afghanistan and Sudan, it says.
A Second World War vet and a Fredericton anti-war group say they support the 120 soldiers sent from Canadian Forces Base Gagetown Monday, but oppose the mission and Canada’s role in the war-torn country.
“I support the military 100 per cent, but when someone tells me I am required to do something, I get up in arms,” said one long-time base employee who didn’t want to be named for fear of professional reprisal. “I will not support our men going over to fight and die in a war we have nothing to do with,” added the employee in an interview.
Approx. 16% of New Brunswick power is generated from coal from El Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia.
RESPONSE TO LEON TEICHER
IF DIALOGUE MEANS IMPOSITION, THEN A STRIKE IS INEVITABLE
In order for dialogue to be an effective means to come to an agreement between two parties in a negotiation, both parties have to negotiate in good faith. Cerrejon’s negotiating committee has not shown good faith in these negotiations. They have continually been arrogant and intransigent, which has made it very difficult to come to an agreement.
It is their negotiators’ behavior that has made dialogue impossible, and that has forced Sintracarbón’s negotiating committee to leave the table. Not because we wanted to, but because Cerrejon’s negotiating committee made it clear that they have nothing else to propose and we have no alternative but a strike.
Our world-class operators and technicians who work in the mining complex have generated fabulous profits for the company in recent years. It is inconceivable to us that the company cannot offer a solution to the needs that our union has explained in our bargaining proposal, through the kind of dialogue that you allude to in your statement, considering that we are the lowest-paid miners in the world.
It seems to us that your statement was an attempt to undermine our negotiating committee and delegitimize it in the eyes of the workers. For example, in your statement you claim that Cerrejon’s proposal offered a 7.5% raise in the first year, when in fact the offer Cerrejon made was for a 7.25% increase. We would like to believe that you were simply misinformed, and that this false information is not part of your strategy.
Our union also laments the lack of sensitivity and rationality on the part of Cerrejon’s negotiating committee. Their continual arrogance, intransigence, insensitivity and irrationality are not conducive to creating an appropriate path to dialogue to arrive at an agreement that will end the conflict.
Sintracarbon fraternally invites Leon Teicher to examine the attitudes of his negotiating committee, if he truly wishes to construct a dialogue and not simply an imposition. We invite him to negotiate directly with our negotiating committee as the only possible path to a negotiated solution.
Our union reaffirms the desire and will that we have consistently demonstrated at the negotiating table, to arrive at an agreement through dialogue. But it must be an agreement that satisfies the needs of the workers, temporary and subcontracted workers, and communities. We understand that our goal is to sign a good collective bargaining agreement. But if we can’t achieve this, you can be sure that we will make full use of our legal right to A STRIKE, and it will be a huge strike, and we hold you responsible for its consequences.
Finally, we invite you to reflect upon the following:
IF DIALOGUE MEANS IMPOSITION, THEN A STRIKE IS INEVITABLE