Legal Eagles: another media misfire

Two leading law publications have trotted out the latest poll of leading Aboriginal legal practitioners to highlight and promote how this new field of law is burgeoning and why it’s a different world today as a result. The underlying message is that change is afoot in the Canadian resources sector and the delivery of legal services in this realm has never been more relevant.

The reader gets the sense that project development is akin to a chess match played by legal experts who are finally getting their day in the sun; when in fact it’s more like a game of dominoes with one project after another taking the tumble as a result of the rise of native empowerment. What the legal practitioners didn’t reveal is the current dysfunctional state of resource economics coast-to-coast that has Canadians watching in frustration; dismayed at how poorly our resource economy is performing and wanting hard information as to where this runaway train is heading.

In that respect, I offer a six week overview of who’s-doing-what-to-who since March 01, 2013.  The following statistical scenario is intended to put some hard facts and legal momentum into what is fast becoming a critical debate for Canada’s resources future. This is the real story that the two articles should have profiled instead of the usual legal soundbites:

  • 4 native legal challenges launched (LNG, uranium, iron ore, hydro)
  • 3 key native legal wins: Métis (#177) Matawa (#178) Keewatin (# 179)
  • 3 political resignations: Duncan, Penashue, Brazeau
  • 3 new appointments: Clement, Valcourt,  Eyford (envoy)
  • 3 rail injunctions re illegal native blockades (CN mainlines / spur)
  • 2 mine injunctions: illegal native blockades (De Beers / Hud Bay)
  • 2 resource project protests (Hud Bay / Muskrat Falls)
  • 2 Idle No More hunger strikes (NS / Que)
  • 2 mediation requests – ROF EA terms of reference
  • 1 corporate lawsuit against BC Ministers (Pacific Booker)
  • 1 native loss re illegal blockades ($350k cost award to City of Brantford)
  • 1 Leave to Appeal SCC pending re win # 173 (Yukon v Ross River Dena)
  • 1 Leave to Appeal SCC native loss (ACFN v Shell Jackpine)
  • 1 provincial moratorium uranium / Quebec / no approvals / Cree pressure
  • 1 new provincial policy and guidelines re duty to consult (Alberta)
  • 1 provincial election call ie a de facto referendum on resources (BC)
  • 1 brand-new prospecting / mining act overhaul (Ontario)
  • 1 Idle No More media takedown: Prof Tom Flanagan (PM’s campaign chair)
  • 1 Coastal First Nations oil-spill video (targeting tankers / crude export)
  • 1 ‘Trouble in the Peace’ pipeline computer game (paid for / pulled by TVO)
  • 0 high-level meetings (PMO – AFN)

The points listed above reflect the real-life legal reality churning up the Canadian resources sector in the span of just six weeks!

The legal magazines and legal practitioners should start telling it like it is: that a G8 country is seemingly at war with itself over access to and control of resources.

It remains the biggest underreported business story of the last decade. So enough with the legal platitudes and marketing soundbites; because there’s a compelling story of national significance here that needs serious legal and political resolution.

It’s time to dig in and promote fundamental changes and concrete solutions as I have offered in “Resource Rulers”.

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