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Countering the Corporate Spin: Activists crash Barrick Gold's forum on "Canada's Reputation Abroad"

by Sakura SaundersSpecial to
September 7th, 2007

photos by Allan Lissner

Thursday, September 6  kicked off Merrill Lynchs Canada's 13th Annual Mining Conference, an invitation-only conference for institutional investors, mining analysts and the executive management of North American mining companies. During this conference, the Canadian Institute for International Affairs hosted a forum on "Canada's Responsibility Abroad," a meeting stacked with industry representatives, attended by a government agency, and organized to promote Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the mining industry. The meeting was countered by a group of protesters outside and inside the forum; the protesters demanded mandatory regulation of the mining industry and handed out information illustrating the abuses of this industry abroad, including specific critiques of Barrick Gold pointing to their repeated misrepresentation of information in an attempt to appear socially responsible.

Protesters handed out fliers and information handout to passersby, including many investment bankers, mining analysts, and others attending the CSR event.

Barbara has experienced first hand the disastrous affects of Canadian mining in her home country of Jamaica (from Bauxite mining). She explained why she was present at the protest.

Protestors engage with Barrick employee outside the forum. Barrick Gold was a large participant in the forum. Barrick Vice President Kelvin Dushnisky and Marketa Evans of the Munk Center for International Studies at U of T were both panelists.  (Peter Munk is the founder and chairman of Barrick Gold)

Sakura Saunders from and an activist from the Philippines explain why unenforceable, voluntary "Codes of Conduct" are no replacement for a solid regulatory framework for transnational corporations. They explain how they do nothing to insure protection (or compensation) for communities adversely affected by mining and point to the Marinduque disaster in the Philippines.
Peiter and Nick have fun bringing attention to Barrick Gold's shameful activities worldwide. This is the gold mining company that is attempting to lead the charge for corporate social responsibility.
Sarah's message is loud and clear: "No to Pascua Lama." Pascua Lama is a Barrick project on the border of Argentina and Chile. This project (not yet constructed) is opposed by the Diaguita Indigenous group, whose livelihood is threatened by the project. Additionally, the project has already been linked to a 56-70% depletion in three local glaciers due to years of Barrick's exploration activity.

not pictured: A few activists also made it to the inside of the forum, listening patiently while mining representatives and sympathizers made the case for Corporate Social Responsibility within the mining sector. One activist spoke during the question and answer section and – when he attempted to pass out fliers to the forum participants – was forced out of the room with his hand pinned to his back. This plan seems to have back-fired for the conference organizers, as many in the audience thought that is was inappropriate to kick someone out of the forum who merely wanted to pass out information. Luckily, there were more people with fliers still in the forum, so they still managed to get distribution!


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