Correspondence between Daishowa and Amitié Lubicons-Québec


translation of letter sent on March 28, 1997

M. Koichi Kitagawa, CEO
Daishowa Forest Products Ltd
Bay Wellington Tower - BCE Place
181 Bay St, PO Box 822, suite 1540
Toronto, ON
M5J 2T3


We would like to thank you for the letter of February 6th, sent by your Corporate Development Director, Mr. Tom Cochran, concerning the legal action your company has brought against the Friends of the Lubicon in Ontario. Having considered your arguments, we would like to reply.

First, the assertion that there is no link between Daishowa Forest Products Ltd, its subsidiary Daishowa Inc, and Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd. (DMI) strikes us as incredible. The simple fact that Mr. Cochran concluded his letter of February 6th by noting that DMI had assured you that it had replied to other elements of our letter leads us to assume, at the very least, a certain amount of interaction between you. That you have had "no operational role in the management of DMI" or the mill at Peace River, perhaps; but this leaves us far from being convinced that the boycott of your company "is not justified".

In an article on December 7th, 1991, in the Edmonton Journal, Mr. Tom Hamaoka, Vice-President of Daishowa Canada Company Ltd. at the time, referred to the operations of Daishowa affected by the activities of the Friends of the Lubicon as "our operations in the east" of Canada.

According to our understanding, Daishowa Inc, as well as your paper mill in Québec City and the lumber mill in Saint-Émile, belong entirely to your company, Daishowa Forest Products Ltd, which, in turn, belongs entirely to Daishowa Canada Holdings Ltd, which, again according to our understanding, belongs entirely to Daishowa Paper Manufacturing Company Ltd (DPMC), a Japanese firm.

It was DPMC of Japan which, in February 1988, announced with the government of Alberta its intentions of constructing a mill at Peace River. In fact, DPMC of Japan, through another of its Canadian subsidiaries, Daishowa Canada Company Ltd., was the sole owner of the Peace River mill as well as the holder of the logging rights over the entire 10 000 km2 traditional territory of the Lubicon Lake Cree until 1992. At that time, DPMC of Japan merged with Marubeni to form Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd. which became the owner of the mill at Peace River, Brewster Construction, and other holdings.

On the subject of the public perception of your corporate structure, we cite, by way of example, Francis Kiteley of the Ontario Court who maintained, in her judgement of the first instance of May 19th, 1995 (pp 104-105): "It is apparent... that Daishowa Inc. is not alone in this litigation. Affidavits were filed by Tom Cochran (Director of Corporate Development of DFPL) and Koichi Kitigawa (President and Chief Executive Officer of DFPL). Clearly the corporate entity takes great interest in the issues. Indeed, it was Kitagawa and Ominayak who met at Kitagawa's initiative in March 1988 when he was then Vice-President and General Manager of DCCL. Correspondence attached to the affidavits reflects ongoing involvement of corporate officers other than those of Daishowa Inc."

"It is equally apparent that the Daishowa corporate entities constitute a group and are acknowledged as such by counsel for plaintiff. Materials produced by the plaintiff clearly indicate that, for purposes of corporate image, all of the subsidiaries and related companies are described as part of one entity. [...]"

"The understandable perception by the Friends of the Lubicon and the public is that all Daishowa companies are, in some respects, one."

"According to his affidavit, [Kevin] Thomas indicates that it was not until these proceedings were initiated that any issue was made that the action of targeting customers of Daishowa Inc. was inappropriate because of its corporate uninvolvement with the Forest Management Agreement."

"Obviously, it was the plaintiff's choice which corporation would be named in these proceedings. Under all of these circumstances, the defendants [Friends of the Lubicon] ought not to be subject to any suggestion that the wrong corporate target has been their objective."

The judgement of Kiteley refusing you an injunction was of course reversed in the appeal decision of January 23rd, 1996. However, notwithstanding her judgement granting you the injunction, Judge Marie Corbett nowhere finds fault with the public perception described by Kiteley that Daishowa Inc. belongs to the same corporate family as Daishowa-Marubeni Ltd. On page 2 of her judgement, Judge Corbett writes, "Daishowa is part of the Daishowa group of companies owned by a Japanese corporation" - named Daishowa.

Moreover, on page 41, Justice Corbett requires "Daishowa" to maintain its moratorium on all "logging on the lands on which the Lubicon claim traditional rights". Will Daishowa-Marubeni and its sub-contractors in Alberta contravene Ontario court orders by asserting that there is no connection between Daishowa Forest Products Ltd, its subsidiary Daishowa Inc. and Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd.?

Even if your statutes, regulations or corporate charters are legally distinct, the fact remains that Daishowa cuts wood to make pulp for newsprint, paper bags, cardboard boxes, etc. Whether in the Peace River area in Alberta, Forestville on the North Shore, or in Québec City, the entity known as "Daishowa" stands for a vertically integrated multinational working in the forest products sector.

Having cited the January, 23rd, 1996, ruling of the Ontario Appeals Court, we now turn to the dissenting opinion of Judge Dennis F. O'Leary. On page 2 of his opinion, the Judge sums up a widespread perception that "the purpose of the boycott campaign is to put economic pressure on Daishowa Paper Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (the company at the top of a pyramid of Daishowa companies and the ultimate owner of Daishowa Inc.) to require Daishowa Canada Company Ltd., another of its subsidiaries, to make a public commitment to refrain from logging on, or buying timber from land in which the Lubicon Band of Cree Indians claim to have aboriginal rights, until such time as the Lubicon Band has settled its longstanding land claim dispute with the government of Canada and has negotiated a timber harvesting agreement."

>From this perspective, Mr. Kitagawa, if the boycott of Daishowa products prevents Daishowa from cutting or buying trees cut on disputed land during the time it takes to settle this dispute in a manner satisfactory to those most closely concerned, the Lubicon Lake Cree, it is, in our opinion, very much justified. If Daishowa logs on Lubicon territory now, before negotiations with the governments are concluded, what will remain for the Lubicons once negotiations finish? For the simple reason that it is much better to be safe than sorry, and the fact that the Lubicons have already suffered too much, the possibility of Daishowa logging on a territory which does not belong to it and which could very well return to its Aboriginal title holders, remains unacceptable.

As a second argument justifying your court action against the Friends of the Lubicon, Mr. Cochran claimed that "the Friends of the Lubicon gave a false impression in promoting their activities. From the beginning of our legal action, these false impressions were recognized as such by the court." Not exactly true either.

For the sake of argument, we turn again to Judge Kiteley and her judgement of 19 May 19th, 1995. She states (pp 8-9) that "the Friends of the Lubicon is an unincorporated group which was formed in 1988 after two of the Defendants visited the community of the Lubicon Lake Cree Nation in Little Buffalo, Alberta. At the time of that visit, the community had been devastated by a tuberculosis epidemic. The group was formed to assist the Lubicon to improve their conditions. All members feel a strong moral and emotional commitment to the Lubicon community and its well being. Friends of the Lubicon is an entirely volunteer organization. [Kevin] Thomas, [Ed] Bianchi and [Stephen] Kenda are members of the Friends of the Lubicon."

"The Friends of the Lubicon are not alone in supporting the Lubicon Cree Nation. A significant number of other organizations (over 30) have been involved including The National Association of Japanese Canadians, The Assembly of First Nations, the Toronto Branch of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the David Suzuki Foundation, the Canadian Peace Alliance, the Daishowa Boycott Coalition, the Lubicon Solidarity Network, and the unit on Public Responsibility of the Anglican Church of Canada."

"The Friends of the Lubicon is a loosely organized group numbering at any one time from the three named individuals to 15 or 20 who attend meetings held more or less regularly at two week intervals. The general objective of the Friends of the Lubicon is to increase the level of public knowledge of the plight of the Lubicon Cree and to encourage a land claims settlement. This objective is met in a number of ways including speeches, attendances at rallies such as the Earth Day Rally, presentations at schools and, lobbying government Ministers and officials to expedite a settlement."

"The Daishowa boycott is only one of many of the activities of the Friends of the Lubicon. Mr. Thomas indicated in his cross-examination on April 12, 1995 that, in the year preceding the order of Wright J. on February 6, 1995, only 15-20% of the meetings had addressed boycott issues while the balance had been public education and lobbying. [...]"

In the same vein, Judge Corbett, in her decision (p. 3) of January 23rd, 1996, recognized that "the general objective of the Friends is to increase the level of public knowledge of the plight of the Lubicon and to encourage a land claim settlement with the federal government. The Daishowa boycott involves secondary picketing and is one of many activities engaged in by the Friends which also include speeches, rallies, education, and government lobbying." In our opinion, the Friends of the Lubicon could scarcely be more transparent, their objectives more precise, their motivation and means clearer.

Perhaps the Friends of the Lubicon raised their voices, adopted a somewhat harsh tone at times or expressed openly opinions people unfortunately generally keep to themselves. Perhaps, but considering the limited means available to them and the task they faced for almost four years in supporting an isolated community fed up with 20 years of government stonewalling, one not only understands but sympathizes with them and their work.

Their was an analogy which was current during the American civil rights movement of the 1960's and which explained nicely the recourse to "illegal means", as Mr. Cochran calls them: in case of fire, everything necessary to get to the burning premises and put the blaze out was allowed and indeed encouraged, even if it meant driving through a red light or breaking a window pane to save a life or the furniture. You will remember that at that time, Blacks (and Whites) were arrested, accused and criminalized by the hundreds for having "violated" contemptible laws of racial segregation and for having affirmed in no uncertain terms their respect for justice and human dignity. Today in Lubicon lands, fire threatens not only the house and furniture, but the entire forest - and you are mistaken if you think that we will stand by in the face of such injustice.

We believe that the only "crime" committed by the Friends of the Lubicon was that of having acted and made a difference in a world where our collective destiny seems to have been placed in the hands of a tiny minority without the majority's knowledge or consent. Whoever dares to break the silence in such circumstances or on a situation this serious has already earned our support. The Friends of the Lubicon, Mr. Kitagawa, have incited no one to violence, nor have they advocated or used violence in their campaign. They have never acted for their own personal gain, to enrich themselves at the expense of others, and they have always been clear as to their objectives and the means that they have used to reach them.

As for the assertion that "since the beginning of our legal proceedings, these false impressions were recognized as such by the Court", according to our understanding, the Court of the first instance refused to grant your company an interlocutory injunction. On appeal, in a split judgement, the Court granted the injunction, but this judgement is in turn under appeal. In any case, the actual law suit against the Friends of the Lubicon won't be heard until September 1997. Your assertion, therefore, is somewhat precocious.

Mr. Cochran begins his final argument by affirming that "the Friends of the Lubicon's boycott activities principally targeted the clients and not the company itself. The legal action was initiated to protect our clients from threats and harassment." One imagines here an army of the "Enemies of Daishowa" - rather than Friends of the Lubicon - armed with unlimited means to make off with all your riches and everything you need to survive. The fact of the matter is, however, that for four years the Friends of the Lubicon have been armed with nothing more than pens, paper and occasionally placards, banners and a megaphone.

Moreover, many of the 47 companies which ceased to do business with you after becoming acquainted with the facts, joined the boycott without the slightest hesitation. Recall, if you will, Roots Canada Ltd., the Body Shop, Cultures Fresh Food Restaurants, Knetchel Food Stores, La Maison du Fromage, Cowboy Chuck's, The Hospital for Sick Children, Cruickshank's Inc., Now Magazine, etc. In any case, according to our information, your company doesn't sell products directly to consumers like us, so the only way to boycott Daishowa products is by communicating directly with the companies and organizations which use them.

On the issue of your clients "needing protection from harassment", we turn again, for the sake of argument, to Judge Kiteley, who observed in her May 19th, 1995, judgement (p. 105) that "it is equally important to note who are not plaintiffs [in this case]. While affidavits are provided by representatives of independent distributors and by representatives of customers of Daishowa Inc., all of whom allege some concerns, none of them are [in fact] plaintiffs. Consequently, when assessing the criteria for granting an injunction, their absence as plaintiff, becomes relevant in some respects." Once again, you are aware as we are that the Kiteley judgement was overturned, but her observation remains very relevant.

One understands that in a insanely competitive world, a drop of 3 to 5% in sales of a product could have serious consequences for a company. One also understands how a company whose corporate behaviour leaves much to be desired could develop a siege mentality before critics or an informed public. One understands that such a company might try to use the law to defend its interests. We believe, however, that your legal proceedings against the Friends of the Lubicon have proved and will prove to be more costly than foreseen in terms of resources and credibility. Why? For the simple reason that Daishowa has dragged ordinary citizens through the courts for having dared to support a Native community and make a multinational stop and think about its actions. To add insult to injury, that same multinational announced through one of its subsidiaries in December 1996 that it plans to construct a new $900 million paper mill on the edge of the territory claimed by these same Native people for over half a century.

For these reasons, Amitié Lubicons-Québec once again asks the entity commonly known as Daishowa to make a clear and unequivocal public commitment not to cut nor to buy timber from Lubicon territory until an agreement on territorial rights between the Lubicon Lake Cree and the governments of Canada and Alberta is concluded, and until your company negotiates an accord with the Cree regulating your logging practices on Lubicon territory. Indeed, it would seem that following a very controversial meeting with Mr. Bernard Ominayak in your Vancouver offices on March 7th, 1988, that you were personally favourable, at one time, to such an agreement.

Nine years have passed, however, and many developments have occurred since then and we find ourselves having to add to this first demand our request once again that you drop legal proceedings against the Friends of the Lubicon Ed Bianchi, Kevin Thomas and Stephen Kenda. Otherwise, we will continue our public information campaign here in Québec.

We look forward to your response.


Marc Drouin
for the Amitié Lubicons-Québec campaign

cc Lubicon Lake Cree Nation
Friends of the Lubicon (Toronto)
Daishowa Paper Manufacturing Company Ltd.
Daishowa Forest Products Ltd.

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