Da Legal Stuff...

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Where Once They Stood We (should) Stand

The pending closure of the Abitibi-Bowater mill in Grand Falls-Windsor is the talk of the Province these days. Hundreds of direct and countless indirect jobs will be lost once the mill closes and the future of Abitibi’s timber and water rights in the Province are in question.

This is another clear example of the kind of industrial rape Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have experienced for decades and it speaks volumes about the attitude of big business toward this place.

We’ve seen it before in the destruction of the Atlantic fishery.

We’ve seen it in places like Stephenville and Bell Island.

Now we’re seeing it in Grand Falls-Windsor.

Yes the economy is bad but that reality is not the reason the mill is being closed.

The mill is closing because Abitibi-Bowater ran it into the ground through a lack of upgrade or investment over the years and because their board of directors believe they can walk away from the town while still making millions of dollars in profits for decades to come.

It’s up to the government of the Province, and the people who live here, to see to it that not another penny of profit is sucked out of our resources by this company once the locks go on the doors.

Representatives of the Provincial government say they are in the process of determining what can be done to recover Abitibi’s timber and water rights. That’s all well and good. I hope they can successfully regain them, but barring that, there are other options that will ensure the pillaging of our province, at least by this one company, is stopped dead in its tracks.

While the mill is active and the people working, excess power generated by Abitibi on the Exploits river is being sold into the Provincial grid and purchased by Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Once that mill is closed, Abitibi management intends to sell all the power to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and reap millions in profits each year. This cannot be allowed to happen.

The right to generate electricity on the Exploits river was granted to the company so it could power the mill. They cannot be allowed to benefit from this resource once the mill is closed.

No mill, no power.

If the government finds it has no legal means to regain those water rights it must direct Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, a crown corporation, to take a lesson from the Upper Churchill debacle and a page out of the Quebec playbook.

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro must refuse to purchase a single kilowatt of power generated by Abitibi.

With no market for the power the company’s board of directors won’t be long figuring out that the generating station and water rights are completely worthless to them.

As for the timber rights, if government discovers it has no recourse for reclaiming those, it may well fall to the people of the Province to take a stand.

Weeks, months or even years of blockades and picket lines preventing wood laden trucks from rolling down the road and ships from hauling away this valuable resource may be needed.

The process will likely long, calling for great sacrifice on the part of many, including the possiblity of facing minor legal issues during the process, but in time the incessant delays, additional costs and resulting damage to its public image will force Abitibi to understand that leaving the Province means leaving the Province, not continuing to rape it.

No longer should Newfoundlanders and Labradorians sit idly by and be dictated to by greedy corporations.

No longer should the people continue to watch as their resources are stripped away for the benefit of companies and governments elsewhere.

If the people of Newfoundland and Labrador don’t make a stand with Abitibi-Bowater when will they make a stand and will there come a time when there is nothing left worth standing up for?

UPDATE: Premier Williams has announced that his government will introduce emergency legislation this afternoon in order to expropriate all timber rights, water rights and electrical generating facilities belonging to Abitibi-Bowater on the island of Newfoundland.

The Premier has stated that Abitibi-Bowater may receive compensation for damns, generating stations or other physical assets however no compensation will be paid for the timber or water rights.


Anonymous said...

I agree completely - if we can't get hydro and timber rights back simply starve the company out. OR nationalise it as Quebec did in the early '60s.

Patriot said...

"Starve the company out"

I like that term Anon. Wish I'd thought of it when I was writing the piece.

Anonymous said...

Patriot - Below in quotes are three paragraphs which I borrowed from your article, it is what I would have said and NOW I just want to have them repeated to embed those ideas in our memories.

I cannot add anything further to what you said; you encapsulated everything except for the point made by Anon of 11.25 where he recommends that our Government do what Quebec did in the 1960s that is Nationalize the Resource. Let us make sure it happens should this Paper Mill close down. No More Giveaways! It is only when we enforce that statement will outside Corporations get the message, that which happened for 500 years has come to an end, that there will be no more giveaways of our resources in Newfoundland and Labrador. We should let that be our Mantra or Chorus, let us sing it every day, NO More Giveaways, No More Giveaways!

Is there anybody out there who can put this in Song and let us pass it along to the schools to sing each day before Class? No More Giveaways.

Excerpts below are from Patriots Article:

QUOTE With no market for the power the company’s board of directors won’t be long figuring out that the generating station and water rights are completely worthless to them.

As for the timber rights, if government discovers it has no recourse for reclaiming those, it may well fall to the people of the Province to take a stand.

Weeks, months or even years of blockades and picket lines preventing wood laden trucks from rolling down the road and ships from hauling away this valuable resource may be needed. END QUOTE!

Anonymous said...

It's time we took a stand and made it clear once and for all that we will not be taken advantage of any longer.

Our resources (oil, wood, fish, minerals and more) have been used to benefit other parts of Canada and industries outside our province for far too long.

Even your most valuable resource, our people, have been used as a cheap labour force elsewhere and as cannon fodder in Afghanistan.

Newfoundland and Labrador has only 1.5% of Canada's population but since 2002 our boys make up 8% of those killed in action.

We've done enough for Canada on every front and in every way since 1949 and it's now our turn.

If it means civil disobedience, blockades or whatever then we need to do it and do it now!

Enough is enough. We need to be the ones that pick which hill we want to fight our battle on and the Abitibi situation is as good a one as we'll find to make our point and take our stand.

Patriot said...

From the CBC just a few minutes ago:

N.L. to expropriate Abitibi assets
Last Updated: Tuesday, December 16, 2008 | 12:14 PM ET Comments0Recommend6CBC News
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is bringing in urgent legislation Tuesday afternoon to expropriate all Abitibi Bowater assests, except the mill in the central Newfoundland town of Grand Falls-Windsor.

In a statement to the legislature Premier Danny Williams said the government will expropriate all hydro electricity rights from the generating station at Star Lake, as well as all timber rights to forests on Crown land. The assets will be run by Nalcor, the province-owned energy company

The company may be compensated for hydro assets such as dams and power stations, but not for the loss of any rights to the resource.

No price has yet been set for the assets.

Aubrey said...

This whole debacle is just another Newfoundland example of how the citizens closeest to a resource lose out because of our insane resource development mentality that makes our communities far too dependable on outsiders.

good stuff myles!

Patriot said...

They shouldn't even expropriate the damn stuff. They should just take it back or as one person said, "Starve them out". Expropriation means paying them something for the assets and they don't deserve a F&*kin penny more from this province!

BNB said...

Good Piece Myles. I put some thoughts of my own down about this, on newfoundlandincanada.blogspot.com being a mill-boy myself. The summary is this. The people of central shouldn't get a romantic notion of good times with this company. They should remember the layoffs and brutal strikes, the pollution in the Exploits, the clear-cutting and poor silviculture, lack of investment, use of timber rights, use of power resources, see the bark that lines the brackish waters at Norris Arm. I say good riddance, they came with nothing and they can leave with the same.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the Globe and Mail (Mop and Pail) are on the attack again. This time it's over Abitibi. It's amazing how little those idiots understand, or is it that they are being directly paid off by corporate interests to back them up?

I guess it's official everyone, the Globe has spoken so I guess we should just let Abitibi go ahead with their plans to leave and take the resources with them. They should be allowed, according to the nimrods at the Globe, to leave and continue to charge us for power generated on our own waterways and rape our forests for mills somewhere else.

What a bunch of knobs.

Here are a few lines from an article today in that rag:

"Just when you thought the Danny Chavez gibes were getting tired, the Rock's irrepressible strongman strikes - no, more like bludgeons -once again.

Danny Williams's move to unilaterally seize the Newfoundland hydro assets and timber cutting rights of paper giant AbitibiBowater Inc. after the company announced it would close its adjacent newsprint mill is the kind of self-inflicted wound that will sour any sensible business person with an eye on investing in the province.

If the government rips up duly negotiated agreements just when it feels like it, what's the point in signing them in the first place?

At least Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's nationalization-happy President, has the decency to call himself a socialist. Mr. Williams just acts like one.

It is true Abitibi has been so stingy with new capital that the mill might have been doomed by its obsolescence. But the hydro assets are still valuable. Abitibi had been counting on them to ease its own financial difficulties.
Mr. Williams has decided otherwise."

Anonymous said...

Someone should remind the Globe that when it comes to attracting business the Ontario elite have no room to talk.

What was it Jim Flaherty said about Ontario, "It is the last place anyone would want to invest."

Meanwhile NL is now a "Have" province while Ontario is a "Have Not".

NL has a surplus this year, Ontario a deficeit.

NL has record car and home sales, Ontario's sales are in the toilet.

Oil, gas and other companies are investing in new activity in NL all the time including during this economic situation.

Sure sounds like the folks at this Ontario based rag have very little right to tell NL how to deal with corporate interests.

Anonymous said...

It is only because of the way that Newfoundland and Labrador's natural and human resources were dealt out, with a lot of input/interference from Ottawa, that aided and abetted Ontario into becoming the Manufacturing power house that it became.

I am glad that Premier Danny is taking the actions that he is by showing the crooks that he is in charge. He is doing what his people want him to do, and that is not to give away any more of our natural resources, resources which should have been and still be creating industry, jobs and prosperity in our province, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Then we can send off much more monies to the equalization pot to be distributed to Canada.

We will then be registered on the Ottawa Balance Sheet in our respectful place, the column on the ledger which records our contributions which were earned rightfully from our natural and human resources, and not record us as a benefactor of the Equalization Pot, by the way which we also contribute to.

We more than paid our way in Canada, but never every got credit for it. For cripes sake our resources were bringing in Billions of dollars annually to the coffers of the other provinces.

This will hurt the rest of Canada more than it will hurt Newfoundland and Labrador and that is the reason for the Yakabuski article in today's Globe and Mail using the Refrain of the name Hugo Chavez when referring to Premier Williams.

The Globe and Mail was part of the reason that we have gotten no Thanks for all the resources sent that we sent off to Canada for processing, refining and smelting. The Globe and Mail was also the reason that we have had to face so much criticism and were lowered to be rift-raft in the eyes of Canadians through articles written by Wente, etc. There was NEVER EVER an article written in that Rag which told of the Natural Resources from Newfoundland and Labrador, which Canadians were greatly benefitting from.

I am the happiest person in the World today, that we have somebody like Premier Danny who is getting the message out there that Newfoundland and Labrador has resources which Canada benefitted from greatly, but Newfoundland and Labrador had to go hungry because those resources were destined for other parts of Canada and the World, but from this day forward Premier Williams promises that there will be NO MORE GIVEAWAYS.


Myles, I wish to Thank You for your wonderful articles which have been self-explanatory, please keep up the great work, at least, Myles until the need for those articles becomes redundant!

Patriot said...

Hi Anon,

Thanks for your comment. As to your last statement, "please keep up the great work, at least, Myles until the need for those articles becomes redundant!" all I can say is I sincerely hope that day will come.

As much as I have become accustomed to doing my best to make NL's case I will never get used to the abuses that have been and continue to be heaped upon this place.

I sincerly hope the day will come with sites like this one will become redundant but sadly I somehow suspect that if the day ever does come it will be long after I'm under the soil.

Anonymous said...

"I somehow suspect that if the day ever does come it will be long after I'm under the soil."

Sadly I agree with you Myles, but I'm really happy to hear that your not going anywere.Since Sue has gone, your all we have.OH, I dont mean to leave out our very own version of the three stooges, but they dont count.

About that article, I really don't know why everybody is getting so upset Myles, I've said this before a thousand times my freind how Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans are thought of in Canada.I know it must come as a shock to some but I hope you don't feel that I wasn't exzagerating what I was writing Myles just to get a reaction from your readers.Sometimes the truth is hard to hear,or better still ,believe.