Last week, McGill’s Faculty of Education hosted a seminar on Canada’s collusion with the international mining industry. The seminar was part of a series of lunchtime talks on global education and was organized by international education professor Aziz Choudhry.
The seminar featured Alaine Deneault, author of Noir Canada: Pillage, corruption et criminalite en Afrique and Dominique Caouette, of the small Montreal-based publishing house Écosociété which published Deneault’s book. They spoke of the ongoing legal battle between Écosociété and Barrick Gold, the world’s largest gold mining company. Barrick Gold sued the publishing company last year for $6-million after Écosociété published Deneault’s findings on the mining industry in Africa.
Deneault’s book details the disastrous effects Canadian mining companies like Barrick Gold have on the countries in which they mine. Resource mismanagement, extreme pollution, and corrupt governance have been linked to mining companies across central Africa.
Deneault suggested that during the so-called “Mining Wars” of 1996 and 2003 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, mining companies colluded with both the sides in conflict. He further explained that the Canadian government had become intrinsically linked with these companies, and that these companies have extracted vast amounts of resources from the Canadian Treasury.
Apart from the rather direct methods in which Canada has helped the companies, such as using diplomatic efforts to further their cause, Deneault also mentioned the many benefits – such as tax rebates, havens, and other state policies – that are available to the entire mining industry.
Deneault regretted that there has not been a loud enough public outcry against these practices. He concluded that Canada has retained colonial structures and has even become an agent of colonial economic practices, through mining’s extraction of resources.