Friday, December 30, 2005


The Winter Solstice marks the point where the Northern Hemisphere of the planet Earth faces the Sun for the shortest time. From now until the Summer Solstice the days lengthen with the coming of the light. Many people are privileged enough to be able to celebrate this season by giving and receiving gifts. In the past year Gordon Campbell’s government has been giving gifts to giant logging and real-estate companies Weyerhaeuser and Brascan. Perhaps in return for millions of dollars in contributions to the BC Liberal’s elections campaigns.

However, a reality check has come just in time for the holidays. Justice Lynn Smith of the BC Supreme Court released her decision in the Hupacasath First Nation lawsuit seeking to quash the decision of the Minister of Forests that approves the privatization of 70,300 hectares of private land in Tree Farm License 44 (TFL 44).

The Court rejected arguments by the Crown and Brascan that Aboriginal Title could not exist on fee simple or private land. Last Winter the BC Liberals announced plans to privatize crown forest land identified as TFL 44 which runs along both shores of the Port Alberni Inlet. This gift of public land to a private corporation is part of Gordon Campbell’s second term commitment to industry.

One week after the BC Supreme Court released its decision BRASCAN changed its name to Brookfield. Coincidence? Fact: November 3. 2005 BC Supreme Court released its decision, November 10, 2005 BRASCAN changed its name to Brookfield Asset Management Inc.

During the proceedings of the court case BRASCAN paid Weyerhaeuser $2.4 billion for its BC coastal logging operations. Weyerhaeuser ran away to the USA with the cash plus the plunder of 7 years of logging while cutting thousands of jobs in BC. In 1999 the US corporate giant Weyerhaeuser, the largest logging company on the planet, bought MacMillan Bloedel and fired thousands of workers. In October 2004 Weyerhaeuser posted third-quarter profit at US$594 million, third-quarter sales totaled US $5.85 billion.

May 30, 2005 Brascan bought Weyerhaeuser's BC coastal timber and gave the name ‘Island Timberlands’ to all logging operations on Vancouver Island. Brascan laid-off thousands of forestry workers around the province, shut down several operations, and increased logging to 7 days per week 24 hours a day. Island Timberlands has closed public access to the roads into the Northwest Bay logging division making it very hard to identify who is doing what. Adding to the confusion this multinational company hires subcontractors which enables them to avoid unions and certain liability considerations. Meanwhile 43 people died at work in the BC forestry industry in 2005. On Vancouver Island 3 men have died in the past 2 months while logging.

Brascan is a development company which had big plans to turn publicly owned crown land designated as forest land into private real-estate. On their corporate website Brookfield states under the heading ‘Higher and better use land sale strategy’:
– Approximately 13,000 hectares of lands are viewed to have greater value in non-timber use, located on Vancouver Island and the Mainland.
– It is expected that the constantly growing rural-urban interface will result in ongoing land sale opportunities.

Brascan Corporation is a global asset manager focused on property, power and infrastructure with $40 billion of assets inter-listed on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges. There is no mention at of the court case against the Hupacasath First Nation in Port Alberni.

The courts have once again told the BC Government that they cannot ignore the rights of First Nations while selling, trading, or giving public land to private corporations. As in the case of the Haida, the BC government must negotiate in good faith with First Nations before selling the resources and land that is in question.

Specifically, the court ruled that, “The decision to remove the land from the TFL was a decision with important ramifications for the future of that land.” The court found that the Crown breached its duty to consult with the Hupacasath regarding the removal of the land from TFL 44, and regarding the consequences of the removal of that land on the remaining (Crown land) portion of TFL 44."

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