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Tar Sands Giant Total stonewalls public inquiry into Tar Sands plans

15 Jun 2010

OTTAWA – One week after French tar sands giant Total blocked local residents from testifying at a tar sands upgrader hearing northeast of Edmonton, the corporation is now trying to limit what questions third party intervenors can ask with regards to their plans for a new tar sands mine. Total has objected to the right for Sierra Club Canada, an official intervenor in Total’s upcoming Joslyn mine hearing, to ask several questions including questions about the impacts of tar sands development on First Nation and Metis communities, that were deemed by Total to be unrelated to the issues at hand.

"Where does a tar sands giant like Total find the audacity to try to limit the questions of an independent intervenor? Total has no right to tell an intervenor what questions they can or can’t ask or to interfere in a public hearing process,” asserted Sheila Muxlow, Interim Director with Sierra Club Prairie. "This demonstrates that Total’s ‘good neighbour rhetoric ends right at their billboards. We say to Total: Just answer the questions."

In a response published on the site of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency June 3, Total declined several of Sierra Club Canada’s questions on the basis of their being “argumentative” Or in the case of First Nation and Metis impacts unrelated. Sierra Club Canada believes the response of Total and its lawyers is both inadequate and inaccurate. Contrary to the assertions of Total’s lawyers, Sierra Club Canada stands by the relevance of its concerns for the rights of First Nations, Metis and Inuit Peoples.

“Total definitely isn’t being the ‘good neighbour’ they claim to be in their public relations ads,” said John Bennett, Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada. “If Total wants to do business in Canada, it has to respect Canadian environmental laws as well as Canada’s constitutional obligations to Aboriginal peoples and Treaty Rights.”

Sierra Club Canada asserts that as many of their members are citizens of Canada who have benefited from Treaties, there is an interest and responsibility to ensure this government’s behaviour is honourable and legal in upholding Section 35 of the Constitution which relates to Aboriginal rights.

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For more information please contact:

Sheila Muxlow
Interim Director
Sierra Club Prairie
780.660.0312

Robb Barnes
Communications Intern
Sierra Club Canada
1.888.810.4204 x230

Posted June 15, 2010 by AEN

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