‘Kill the Avatar Bill!’ (Canada’s Anti-Mining Bill C-300) – by National Post Editor Peter Foster

This opinion piece was published in the National Post, Canada’s second largest national paper on March 09, 2010,

If passed, Bill C-300 would open up Canadian companies to attacks by those who believe mining should stop

“Kill the Avatar bill!”

That’s the cry at this week’s annual meeting of the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada in Toronto. Not quite in those words, mind you, but the private member’s bill in question, C-300, is based on the same lurid anti-capitalist, anti-mining fantasies that provided the psychic substructure for James Cameron’s mega-grossing but Oscar-short movie.

Activists last week bought an ad in Hollywood organ Variety to suggest analogies between oilsands development and the sci-fi epic’s tale of interplanetary resource rape and alien cultural genocide. So far, C-300’s supporters don’t seem to have followed that tack, but then perhaps that’s because they include the Catholic Church, which has condemned Avatar for its mystic eco-mumbo jumbo (I know. Pot. Kettle. Etc.)

This week, the PDAC opened a campaign to bombard MPs with letters opposing this potentially disastrous piece of legislation. The real wonder is that the bill, which was proposed by Liberal MP and NGO stooge John McKay, is still alive. In fact, having survived prorogation, it seems to stand little chance of passing a third reading, but then it was never expected to pass a second reading.

Bill C-300 would open Canadian companies to an onslaught of accusations and investigations promoted by people whose fundamental stance is that mining activity should be stopped. Those found “guilty” under this process would have government support — in the form of Export Development Corporation loan guarantees, or investment by the Canada Pension Plan — withdrawn. There is a good case that such government support should not exist in the first place, but the real threat of the bill is that of constant harassment of Canadian companies under a never-ending stream of bogus complaints.

Parliamentary committee hearings — where libels can be freely tossed around — have already heard a bizarre procession of tales of rape, murder and other indignities that seem rooted much more in the kind of anti-capitalist psychopathology channelled onto Pandora than on planet Earth. Here, mining operations bring jobs and hope, often to desperately poor people who haven’t solved transportation problems by plugging into pteradacyls.

Canadian mining giants Barrick, Goldcorp and Kinross Gold last year submitted a lengthy joint statement to the committee on the numerous flaws and dangers of the bill, which would put Canadian companies at a competitive disadvantage, damage their reputations, undermine their good work and induce them to leave Canada for less punitive jurisdictions.

However, mining companies are somewhat culpable for bringing this on themselves. They have eagerly donned the poisoned mantle of “corporate social responsibility” — along with its matching choker of “sustainable development” — without sufficiently examining potential hidden agendas, or naively believing that their enemies could be reasoned with, and, like themselves, just wanted a “better world.”

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