For Immediate Release
November 12, 1996
Are consumer boycotts unlawful in Canada?
That's the question legal counsel for a volunteer group of supporters of the Lubicon Lake Cree Nation have asked the Supreme Court of Canada to consider today.
In a memorandum of argument filed on behalf of Friends of the Lubicon (FoL), Clayton Ruby and Karen Wristen, of Sierra Legal Defence Fund, have submitted four reasons why the Supreme Court ought to grant leave to appeal from a lower court decision outlawing the group's highly successful consumer boycott. Until it was ruled illegal earlier this year, the Daishowa Boycott was working to prevent the forestry multinational from resuming clearcutting on unceded Lubicon territory in northern Alberta.
The memorandum argues that "The right to conduct a peaceful consumer picket or boycott is fundamental to our notion of participatory democracy. The decision from which leave to appeal is sought calls into question the legality of any consumer boycott. The refusal of the Court below to apply Charter values or principles in arriving at its decision to impose an interim restraint on the exercise of these fundamental rights is a decision which should be reviewed by this Court."
Furthermore, "Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation or SLAPP suits use economic torts to restrict freedom of expression at the instance of private, economic interests. This abuse, long recognized in the United States, has emerged in Canada and has far-reaching implications for public participation in the democratic process."
This latest application for leave to appeal comes after an Ontario appellate court, on January 23, 1996, granted Daishowa an interim injunction temporarily halting the consumer boycott until Daishowa's case seeking a permanent injunction can be heard on Sept 2, 1997.
To end the international boycott, Daishowa has been asked to make a clear, unequivocal and public commitment not to log or buy wood cut on unceded Lubicon land until the land rights are settled and a timber harvesting agreement respecting Lubicon wildlife and environmental concerns is negotiated. Public pressure generated by the boycott has been instrumental in keeping Daishowa off Lubicon land since the boycott began in 1991.
The complete 20 page memorandum of argument is available upon request.
For more information, please contact:
Clayton Ruby: 416-964-9664
Karen Wristen, Sierra Legal Defence Fund : 604-685-5618
Kevin Thomas, Friends of the Lubicon: 416-631-4048
Ed Bianchi, Friends of the Lubicon: 613-235-9956
Stephen Kenda, Friends of the Lubicon: 416-763-7500