October 27, 2014

Anti-Chevron campaign wins key victory in lead up to Supreme Court appeal case

After Protests Canadian Bar Association Withdraws Intervention in Chevron Case

All pictures from Oct 9th protest outside Ontario Bar Association (Toronto):
Rebel Youth
From: Telesur English

Activists point to mobilizations as the reason why CBA choose to reverse course.

Facing a large backlash, resignations, and protests, the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) has decided that it will not make an intervention at the Canadian Supreme Court in the case involving Chevron Corporation's contamination of the Ecuadorian rainforest.

In a letter sent to members, CBA president Michele Hollins stated “The [Legislation and Law Reform] Committee concluded that while the factum was well-drafted and of a high standard of quality, it did not meet the specific requirements of CBA’s Intervention Policy. Consequently, under the terms of the Intervention Policy, the CBA came to the conclusion that without the certification of the factum, the Intervention could not move forward and would be withdrawn.”

Although the previous letter to members made mention of opposition to the CBA intervention, this second letter did not. Santiago Escobar, a member of the Anti Chevron Committee of Canada, in an interview with teleSUR stated "The CBA won't admit this but they withdrew because of the protests they were facing, they knew that they couldn't be seen supporting a corporation that has negatively affected the lives of so many Indigenous people in Ecuador."
The CBA's legislative and law reform committee had recommended against proceeding. Meanwhile the environment, aboriginal, and civil litigation committees has urged the CBA not to intervene on behalf of Chevron. Kathryn Deo, who had resigned from the CBA in protest told the Globe and Mail “I’m sure it was a difficult decision but it was clearly the right decision and we are appreciative of their courage in reversing course.” Lawyers in Canada were upset that the board of the CBA had authorized a law firm with ties to Chevron, Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP, to submit the brief.

At issue is whether the Ecuadorian plaintiffs can seize the assets of Chevron corporation in Canada in order to collect a USD $9.5 Million judgment against Chevron for the contamination it cause in the Lago Agrio region. The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that the case could indeed be heard. Chevron has appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which will hear the case in early December of this year. Chevron maintains that courts in Canada have no jurisdiction in this case, should the Supreme Court rule against them, the full judgment could be collected and paid to the Ecuadorian plaintiffs.

Under pressure Canadian Bar Association does the right thing

From Anti-Chevron Canada Committee
October 20, 2014

TORONTO, ONTARIO, October 19, 2014 - The Anti-Chevron Canada Committee welcomes the Canadian Bar Association’s (CBA) decision to withdraw its application for intervener status in the case between Chevron Corporation and the Indigenous people of Ecuador.

This is clearly the right decision and we are indebted to member lawyers who had the courage to speak out and uphold justice. Through the collective action of these courageous lawyers, the forthright commitment to justice principles of law students, and the actions of concerned community members, the Association was pressured to do the right thing.

Together these groups proved not only that the requirements of the Intervention Policy of the CBA were not met, but also that corporate law interests do not come before human rights.

The acts of Chevron affect us all. Chevron polluted the Amazon rainforest, regarded as the world’s botanical treasure, which contains unknown pharmaceutical possibilities and is considered the lungs of the world. More than 20 percent of the world’s oxygen is produced here. Chevron Corporation is operating within one global entity and therefore, their corporate social responsibility should be enforced globally.

The hundreds of oil wells and pools of waste left behind by Chevron Corporation in Ecuador also continue to negatively affect the lives and wellbeing of the Indigenous people living in this region. By North American standards this is a public health crisis of immeasurable proportions: water that is essential for daily activities is contaminated and continues to affect thousands of people. The high prevalence in rates of cancer, miscarriages and other illnesses show that the careless dumping by Chevron was a violent act inflicted on innocent people. 

Chevron Canada was created by Chevron Corp capital and operates in Canada trading under the same symbol (i.e. CVX) on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Chevron operates transnationally, picking and choosing its countries of interest, and packing up and leaving when convenient. Justice must function equally across and within national borders.

This case will be heard before the Supreme Court of Canada in early December. The litigation is precedent setting and has important implications for the Indigenous community of northern B.C. over unceded Wet’suwet’en territory at the Unis’tot’en Camp, currently blockading Chevron and other companies, and for other communities globally that have been affected by Chevron’s unethical practices.

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