Thursday, August 30, 2018

Justice/Legal System in Canada not entirely in Corporate Pockets...Yet - as Two Recent Decisions Show

Burrard Inlet - Lower Vancouver Mainland
Kinder Morgan Refinery in Lower Right of Photo

Two recent legal decisions give hope to Canadians that our Justice/Legal System is not yet entirely in the pockets of the big Corporations.  The International Corporations are no doubt shocked to their very roots...as they generally take for granted being able to get their way with the "Justice" [sic] system south of the border.

Trans Mountain Pipeline Approval was quashed by the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal in a stunning announcement this morning.  Here is a snippet from the report from the National Post and I will have more comments to follow:

CALGARY — The Federal Court of Appeal dealt the Trans Mountain expansion project a major setback Thursday, ruling the government of Canada had not fulfilled its duty to consult with First Nations on the pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia.

The decision means the National Energy Board will have to redo its review of Kinder Morgan Canada’s project. In a written decision, the court says the energy board’s review was so flawed that the federal government could not rely on it as a basis for its decision to approve the expansion.

The court also concludes that the federal government failed in its duty to engage in meaningful consultations with First Nations before giving the green light to the project. That decision means the government will have to redo part of its consultations with Indigenous groups...."

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Greencrow says:  It's very simple.  The Canadian Government wrote up some guidelines they would follow in consulting Indigenous peoples along the pipeline route.  Then they simply ignored their own guidelines and asked the court to rubber stamp approval for the pipeline construction.  Normally, non consultation would not make any difference.  The pipeline project would still have been approved and to hell with the indigenous peoples.

What went wrong was the pipeline winds its way through some very pricy real estate in Burnaby, a suburb of Vancouver.  This suburb has already suffered the effects of having the Oil Refinery and the pipeline in its neighbourhood.  There was a very bad spill a decade or so ago, which scared the bejesus out of homeowers perched on their multimillion dollar lots overlooking the Inlet.  Additionally, there is the ongoing problems related to the toxins released by the Refinery...diseases like Parkinsons have been traced back to exposure to these toxins.  Some famous former Burnaby residents like actor Michael J. Fox and native woodcarver Bill Reid have come down with Parkinsons.

Canadian History is rife with incidents where the indigenous people's concerns have been used to block government/corporate moves that the majority of Canadians don't want anyway [see, for eg., the failed "Meech Lake Accord" of the 1980's] but don't seem to have the power/voice that the First Nations people do. The reason for this is The Indian Act, which dates back to Confederation...and gives a lot of hidden power to first nations.  Nobody knows exactly how this works because it has never played out to the full extent in court but it's something about how the "Indians" [as First Nations were known back then], if they are severely oppressed, can go directly to "The Queen"--and don't have to play around with [and get played by] the courts and the government.  Like I say, nobody wants to find out how much power the First Nations really have...so they give First Nations a very wide berth when trying to push through these projects that infringe on their territories and rights.

So, as has happened numerous times in the past...the Indigenous Peoples of Canada came to the rescue regarding the Kinder Morgan Pipeline potential environmental catastrophe.  No matter what the corporate-paid-for public opinion polls say...or lie about...British Columbians don't want that friggin' pipeline.  We want the government to wean the population off carbon fuels and stop fracking and destroying the lands in the Canadian North. We also don't want three big pipelines traversing through high density urban lands in a high earthquake zoneWe also don't want our coastal water ways clogged up with Gawd knows how many leaky oil tankers.  Get it?!!!!!

And, in an even more shocking decision this past week....

British Columbia will sue Opioid Manufacturers for costs of Overdoses in a class action law suit.

It's about time that some authority purporting to represent the people stood up to Big Pharma and laid the responsibility for the epidemic of deaths [mostly of young people] at the door of these big corporations where it belongs.  Please read the details from the Kelowna Daily Courier.

There are about forty big pharmaceutical companies named in the class action lawsuit.  The BC government wants compensation for all the expenses it has had to bear resulting from the epidemic of overdoses during the past three years. They say the Big Parmaceutical companies are liable, due to their negligence in not warning doctors and users of the product about its highly addictive qualities and fatal "side effects" when used in excess or in combination with other substances.  Some expenses borne by the BC Government include the cost of "Naxalone" kits supplied to drug users and the First Responder Paramedics plus the cost of emergency response to hundreds of overdose cases every weekend.  

I'm thoroughly in support of this "first of its kind" class action lawsuit by the BC Government and applaud the New Democratic Party government of Premier John Horgan for initiating it.  I hope that some of the compensation will go to the families all over the province, who are grieving the loss of their loved ones.  Three of the deaths hit home to me because they were young people who belonged to my community and/or were children of friends and neighbours.

And, just a heads up, if this class action law suit is successful, it will spur similar actions, and could break the financial back of the pharmaceutical industry.  Also, it's a warning regarding the indiscriminate corporate pushing of other addictive drugs...like the soon to be legal "recreational" marijuana.  According to a recent news report....overdoses of high potency marijuana are already being reported in record breaking numbers.

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