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Potential Growing Ecological Nightmare in Saskatchewan

Resource Companies unchecked by opponents focused elsewhere.

by Daniel Johnson

With attention of environmental activists on both coastal regions of Canada, the peaceful sit ins on BC or the militant blockades in New Brunswick, more attention needs to be paid to the rapidly expanding resource exploitation rush in the country's center. 

In northern regions still recovering from the onslaught of uranium mining in the 1970s, the new tarsands developments represent another aggressive extraction process.

A court hearing will be held from November 12–13, 2013 in Saskatoon over resource permits sold by the provincial government without any consultation from local communities, including the Buffalo River Dene Nation, St. George's Hill and Michel Village, in violation of Section 35 of the Constitution Act. 

But even when communities are consulted, the companies can often find ways to sidestep the communities themselves through the help of cooperative local officials looking to benefit personally.  

Companies make deals through whoever they can make deals with, and usually that's done with as little public consultation as possivle. According to northern activist  in a Dominion interview Daniel Montgrand, when the 'Memorandum Of Understanding was signed by municipal leaders in the remote Dene' community of LaLoche in the late 1990s, giving control of Axe-Lake to Calgary-based Oilsands Quest Inc, “There was no consultation held anywhere. They just went into one little office there and [signed the agreement]. They stole the land away... What’s happened in the north is they opened up a floodgate for the companies to come in and do whatever they want.' 

In a different part of the province, a losing battle was fought all last spring and summer with hardly a mention from Idle No More organizers or environmental groups. Thunderchild First Nation's chief and council have given permission for drilling on their Sundance ceremonial grounds, by a company that is a front for an unethical multinational with a long history of manipulating local leaders through 'locally owned' shell companies, with the approval of the chief and a handful of handpicked elders. 

Efforts to bring media and political attention to the blockade had some moderate success by mid August, during an emotional court battle when the court granted an injunction against the blockade. 

Many protesters continued despite the blockade, leading to arrests and further conflict within the community. 

Before Delbert Wapass  became chief, the Reserve had been in negotions with Calgary based Conquer Energy, who operated under strict environmental conditions and agreed to stay away from the Sundance grounds. Wapass didn't like the terms of the agreement and re-opened negotions, the company walked away after talks began to drag on. Then talks opened and closed with an agreement very rapidly with Tonare Energy Ltd. 

A search of company records show that Tonare Energy LTD was formed on 01/15/2011, and that it's address is at The Corporation Trust Center, 1209 Orange Street, Wilmington, Deleware. 

The Corporation Trust Center is a relatively small building considering that it is home to  over 6,500 corporations hold addresses at the location as their registered agents.

This is because of Delaware's extremely business friendly corporate taxes and legal system, but to avoid the high franchise fees they require a registered office in the State.  

A little further checking shows that it's Chairman, Stephen Mason,who is also the Chairman of Kainji International, and has been involved in financing exploitative resource contracts throughout Asia and Africa as well as North America. They are based in ever country they do business in, with centrally controlled subsidiaries. For tax purposes, however, they are American. 

What this means is that the Tonare Energy Company is a shell corporation that came into existence at almost the same time it took control of drilling on Thunderchild Reserve, and if it is like many other companies of it's kind, it might be deliberately 'devalued' and dissolved right around the time comes to start fulfilling long term responsibilities such as pensions and environmental clean up, then dissolving into thin air.

And as the Alberta nightmare has proved, the constant promise to clean up after they're done helps companies persuade officials and media to ignore the damage they do in the meantime. 

. We should be wary to make sure they don't do it in Saskatchewan too. 

Meanwhile, further north at Pinehouse, local leaders have been in negotiations with Cameco and Areva regarding uranium mining and the possibility of a nuclear waste storage facility. Local residents have organized rallies across the province and worked to bring attention to it, but they are finding resistance from their own 'leaders', who even agreed to gag their own people at one point, before the draft text was revealed at a public meeting and the following rules were removed following community outrage:

Pinehouse Promises to:

(a) Generally cooperate with Cameco/Areva and generally support Cameco/Areva operations when it deals with the provincial or federal governments although Pinehouse can raise concerns to the governments about the projects.

(e) Not make statements or say things in public or to any government, business or agency that opposes Cameco/Areva’s mining operations.

(f) Make reasonable efforts to ensure Pinehouse members do not say or do anything that interferes with or delays Cameco/Areva’s mining, or do or say anything that is not consistent with Pinehouse’s promises under the Collaboration Agreements.

Those kinds of rules are actually quite normal for resource companies to demand when negotiating with governments, 'confidentiality' between companies and elected officials is considered a good thing, keeping the public in the dark is an important part of keeping business flowing smoothly, even though it undermines democratic principals.














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Daniel Johnson (Daniel Johnson)
Regina Sask
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