Our Times 3

Canadian Mining and Popular Resistance

EnvironmentCanadian BusinessLatin America and the Caribbean

Photo by Rafael Retamal

Canada is one of the world’s centres of the mining and extractive sector. Toronto is the centre of the trade in mining stocks and in financing mining operations. Canadian mining capital operates in more than 100 countries and is among the top five world producers of potash, uranium, nickel, gold, platinum, aluminum, diamonds and steel-making coal. The Canadian state supports the accumulation of the mining industry at home and abroad. Indeed, it is impossible to separate out the history of Canadian colonialism and the building capitalism in Canada from the mining sector, from the original mining of fish and furs by Europeans to the modern mining of the tar sands, forests, precious metals, and many other sectors. The extractive sector remains at the centre of the Canadian state’s colonial – and often coercive, and extra-legal – relationship with the First Nations, and the ecological destructiveness of the Canadian developmental model.

Relations with workers and unions in the mining sector remain turbulent and chaotic – extract the resources and labour-power, and the devil of the consequences for the workers, communities, and environment. Both the Harper and Trudeau governments have pursued strategies to help mining companies expand their exploration and extraction activities around the world. The Canadian provinces share the same agenda, whatever the political complexion of the government in power. In pursuing international trade and investment treaties, Canadian governments have had the protection of the extractive sector at the core of their bargaining. Signing investor protection deals with foreign countries and pushing consulates and embassies to promote Canadian mining projects are two of the main modalities by which Canadian imperialism operates. Canadian royalty regimes are, perhaps, the most generous in the world among large countries for mining capital.

Confronting Canadian capitalism necessarily means a confrontation with the Canadian mining sector. Solidarity with First Nations people requires support for struggles with the mining corporations. Ecologically-responsible production can only occur with democratic and social control of the mining sector.

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