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Boreal Boo-Boo

What would have caused a leading eco-activist organization to sue Environment Minister Catharine McKenna? Hadn't she single-handedly led the way in restoring Canada's tarnished environmental reputation after the Harper government's decade of indifference. Here's the headline that singles out McKenna as deserving a litigator's come-uppance in the boreal forest:

Charity files suit against Environment Minister over lack of reports on endangered caribou:

`The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is asking the Federal Court to find that Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is acting illegally by ignoring the section of the Species At Risk Act that requires her department to report regularly on the condition of the caribo's habitat`. (Gloria Galloway Globe and Mail' (Apr 20/17)

This half-page story (with full-colour photo of a trekking caribou) comes just one day after another story, wherein the Trudeau government is solidly praised for its progressive approach on the big political issues. Here's that headline:

The big files save Trudeau from a sophomore slump: .. 'Year Two was supposed to be harder for Mr. Trudeau, and in some respects it has been. There have been faux pas aplenty; his popularity has waned. But on major issues there is little slippage. On the big stuff he moves the yardsticks'. (Lawrence Martin Globe & Mail April 19/17)

We all know that on the 'big stuff' Minister McKenna was front-and-center on the key issues; acting capably and forthrightly on both national and international stages. Indeed, more than any other minister, she put Canada back-inbusiness as a responsible environmental leader.

So what could possibly have put CPAWS in such an `uncharitable` frame-of-mind, to set out to embarrass a leading Minister in a game-changing government; where the former head of the World Wildlife Fund is the Prime Minister`s Chief of Staff (Gerald Butts); in a new government that was praised in Parliament for its green initiatives by none other than Barack Obama.

McKenna, an environmental leader in her own right, might well have been expecting praise from CPAWS; instead she's getting the same pressure tactics that the eco-activists threw at the Harper government. It doesn't add up! So I?m offering an alternative strategic explanation.

This legal gambit really has nothing to do with McKenna's performance; it has instead to do with a miner's success in the Ring of Fire, where a long dormant project has finally formed a breakthrough commercial partnership with the Marten Falls First Nation - the gatekeepers to the Ring?s road-to-resources.

However, this corporate-native partnership would not be seen as a welcome development by CPAWS, who for years ran an effective caribou habitat protection strategy that went hand-in-hand with aligning with First Nations in order to piggy-back on their role as protectors of 'Mother Earth'.

Those who followed the ensuing socio-economic statistics across the shuttered region will understand why a given First Nation might now decide to give industry a chance, to hopefully turn things around. Here's the miner's press release; notable in that it precedes the caribou litigation by just one-week. Yet it didn't garner near the same level of media coverage as did the pending litigation against the Minister (and neither was it referenced in the litigation storyline):

'Noront Resources Ltd. announced Thursday it has signed an exploration and project advancement agreement with Marten Falls First Nation in northern Ontario. ... It also outlines a one-year process that will be used to negotiate a predevelopment agreement for the Eagles Nest nickel, copper, platinum and palladium mine located in northern Ontario. ... Under the terms of the agreement, Marten Falls will become a shareholder of Noront Resources after fulfilling certain obligations. ... Chief Bruce Achneepineskum said in the news release the agreement is "a step towards a prosperous and sustainable future for both the youth and community of Marten Falls First Nation." Noront President and CEO Alan Coutts said "it marks the beginning of a long-term relationship that will provide opportunity and mutual benefits for both parties." (excerpts CBC News April 13/17)

Music to the ears of all Canadians who long to see reconciliation in the resources sector!

Since I've tracked the Ring of Fire from discovery to flame-out; I can state that CPAWS activists were deeply involved with a strategy that kept the miners off-balance every step of the way. Many politicians in Queens Park and in Ottawa likewise found themselves in CPAWS crosshairs.

So what we're seeing now is just more of the same; a form of legal intimidation designed to get the results the eco-activists are holding-out for. 

But why should First Nations continue to be frozen-out of economic opportunities just because a charitable organization is able to get politicians running-in-circles over habitat protection. That's what we're looking at here; a First Nation that has likely now had enough of this GTA nonsense. Because the fact of the matter is, there's zeroeconomic development happening in Ontario's north and CPAWS is just fine with that. 

Thus I?m saying as a strategist; all First Nations should learn from this legal maneuvering and look-out for themselves. Especially since they know what they need to do to protect their habitat priorities. This litigation against Minister McKenna is best viewed as a 'knee-jerk' reaction on CPAWS part. In fact, they've likely just made a serious boreal boo-boo!

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