Aug 29/97: ALQ#1-Lubicon trial set to open


Trial set to open in Ontario against Friends of the Lubicon

Amitié Lubicons-Québec
Friday, August 29, 1997

First Press Communiqué
For immediate release

Tuesday, September 2nd at 10 a.m., will mark the opening of a three week trial in Toronto brought against three members of the Friends of the Lubicon - Kevin Thomas, Stephen Kenda and Ed Bianchi - organisers of a successful boycott campaign in Ontario of Daishowa forest products. In January 1995, the multinational Daishowa sued the Friends of the Lubicon for what presently amounts to over $11 million in damages because of the boycott.

On January 23rd, 1996, the Ontario Court of Appeals granted Daishowa a temporary injunction against the boycott. At that time, the Court ruled that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms did not apply in such "private litigation" and found that, in this particular case, the company's right to do business outweighed the Friends' of the Lubicon right to freedom of expression.

If Daishowa wins its lawsuit in Ontario, this case could establish a legal precedent against any boycott campaign in the future. However, according to Constance Vaudrin, spokesperson for Amitié Lubicon-Québec, "even if the Court in Ontario outlaws the boycott in that province and condemns the Friends of the Lubicon for the damages alleged by Daishowa, the boycott campaign could very well take root in Quebec, in Washington State, Vermont or anywhere Daishowa does business. The Lubicon will also be able to count on our growing support."

Daishowa has held cutting rights to 29,000 km2 of boreal forest in northern Alberta since 1988. This area includes 10,000 km2 of land which the Lubicon Lake Cree have been fighting to regain for almost 60 years. In 1990, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Daishowa began clearcutting Lubicon land. Responding to an appeal for support from the Cree, the Friends of the Lubicon launched their boycott campaign in November 1991. In a four year period, 47 companies representing 4,300 retailers abandoned Daishowa products. Since the campaign began in Ontario, neither Daishowa nor it's subcontractors have cut a single tree on Lubicon land.

Following more than two years of legal proceedings, the trial in Toronto will take place as Daishowa prepares to begin work on a second mill in the Peace River region in Alberta, bordering Lubicon land. The new $ 900 million paper mill, announced on December 20th, 1996, will no doubt use trees cut on Lubicon land.

Amitié Lubicons-Québec (ALQ) launched its campaign on January 23, 1997, with a demonstration at Daishowa's offices in Ville St-Laurent on the first anniversary of the Ontario Court injunction. ALQ, as the Friends of the Lubicon had done, asked Daishowa to make a public commitment neither to cut nor buy trees cut on Lubicon land until a land rights agreement has been reached between the Lubicon Lake Cree and the governments of Canada and Alberta, and until the company has reached an agreement with the Cree governing it's wood harvesting practices on Lubicon land. In its written replies to Amitié Lubicons-Québec, Daishowa has refused to make such a commitment and also refuses to drop the legal proceedings it began against the Friends of the Lubicon.

Representatives from Amitié Lubicons-Québec will be in Toronto to take part in a rally on September 2nd at 8:30 a.m. beginning in Nathan Phillip's Square and ending at the courthouse.

For more information contact:

Ms. Constance Vaudrin, Amitié Lubicons-Québec: (514) 522-8131
Mr. Kevin Thomas, Friends of the Lubicon (Toronto): (416) 209-6189
Mr. Bernard Ominayak, Chief of the Lubicon Lake Cree (Alberta): (403) 629-3945
The Amitié Lubicons-Québec campaign is endorsed by: L'Association des étudiantes et étudiants d'études hispaniques (UdeM), l'Association des étudiantes et étudiants en anthropologie (UdeM), le Canevas, le Centre Wampum, le Cercle des Premières Nations (UQAM), le Comité de Justice et Paix de Ville-Marie, le Comité des sans emplois de Montréal-Centre, le Comité justice sociale (CRCQ), le Comité Québec-Amérique centrale, le Centre de ressources sur la non violence, le Groupe de recherche en intérêt public (GRIP-Québec) UQAM, le GRIP-Québec Concordia, le GRIP-Québec McGill, la Librairie Abya-Yala, la Librairie Alternative, les Productions B'alba, Project Ploughshares (Montréal), Rebelles, le Réseau de solidarité avec le Mexique, le Regroupement de solidarité avec les Autochtones, Rythm Activism, Salut le monde!, Terre en vue...

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