Are Consumer Boycotts Unlawful in Canada?


Friends of the Lubicon

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.


Suicides, a skyrocketting rate of stillbirths and miscarriages, a tuberculosis epidemic, chronic and acute respiratory problems, and death upon unnatural death have been plaguing the Lubicon community ever since massive oil and gas extraction destroyed their self-sufficient hunting and trapping way of life in the early 80's. On top of all that, the Lubicon see clearcut logging of their territory as a knock-out blow to their already badly battered society. Daishowa has timber rights', granted unilaterally by the provincial government, in almost the entire 10,000 square kilometre unceded Lubicon territory.

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

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