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Canadian mining companies rejoice as Chileans reject new constitution
But there’s no going back to the Pinochet era
Over the weekend, 62% of Chileans voted against President Gabriel Boric’s proposed new constitution, which would have introduced stringent environmental regulations.
In a story headlined “Chileans reject Boric’s new constitution which could have put Canadian mining operations at risk,” the Financial Post’s Marisa Coulton reports:
The proposal prioritized human rights and the environment in stark contrast to its market-focused predecessor that was written during the reign of Augusto Pinochet. Had the document been approved, it could have put Canadian mining interests in the region at risk, according to the 2022 Latin America Mining Risk Index by Americas Market Intelligence (AMI).
Chile hosts 55 Canadian mining companies, making it home to 11 per cent of Canada’s international mining assets, according to the federal Department of Natural Resources. Chile is Canada’s second-most important mining market after the United States.
Later in the piece, Coulton notes the “Pinochet years … were characterized by torture, executions and the internment of leftists.” Pinochet came to power in a U.S.-backed coup on Sept. 11, 1973, deposing left-wing President Salvador Allende, and ushering in a brutal regime of mass privatization and repression.
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On a visit to Canada in June, Boric told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that mining companies “were used to destroying our territory and were used to [getting] a lot of revenues, and they didn’t [give] enough to the countries where they worked. And some of those companies were Canadian.”
Article 145 of Boric’s proposed constitution would have put the state in charge of the country’s vast mines and deposits, with future mining viewed through the lens of “their finite, non-renewable nature, intergenerational public interest and environmental protection.”
It must be noted, Chileans voted against Boric’s new constitution, not in favour of Pinochet’s, which was rejected by an even greater majority of 78% in October 2020 — a vote which came after mass protests against social inequality the previous year.
Carlo Dade, a researcher at the Calgary-based Canada West Foundation, told the Post the new constitution failed because “the left pushed too far, too hard and too fast.”
Donald Kingsbury, a political scientist and Latin American Studies professor at the University of Toronto, told me this is a vast oversimplification.
“The problems were much more mechanical than those kinds of broad, sweeping generalizations,” he explained. “The process was plagued by a lot of disinformation, a lot of propaganda, especially on the part of the ‘no’ campaign.”
Boric’s proposed constitution was no doubt ambitious, Kingsbury said, but it was also a complex document which proved difficult to sell to the broader public:
It's a long constitution, and I don't think people had the time to read it or to fully understand it. There were also issues that had to do with the small-p political concerns around Boric and his ability to be an effective campaigner and unite. It was always going to be a challenging task to get a progressive document like that passed, because you'd have to stitch together basically the entire left, including the centre-left. And the centre-left was not for it.
The document’s calls for a pluralistic nationality, inclusion of Indigenous groups, nationalizing some resources and decentralizing and re-configuring other projects, would have made it “arguably the most progressive constitution in the world,” he added.
Canadian mining interests were “certainly not sad to see it fail,” said Kingsbury.
“But if the constitution had passed and the government moved to renegotiate contracts for existing mining operations, I think [the companies] would have rolled with it, and lobbied and funded politicians who are opposed to nationalization.”
In other words, there’s no going back to 1973.
Questions arise after Saskatchewan stabbing suspect dies in police custody
Myles Sanderson, the surviving suspect in a stabbing spree which left 11 people dead and 18 injured on James Smith Cree Nation and the nearby village of Weldon, Sask., died of self-inflicted injuries while in police custody, Global News reports.
The question of what happened between his arrest and death remains unanswered. The cops will only say Sanderson suffered from “medical distress” after he was arrested, but won’t release the results of a forthcoming autopsy due to an independent investigation into Sanderson’s death they initiated.
Sanderson was arrested Wednesday afternoon in Rosthern, Sask. — a town more than 100 km southwest of James Smith — after being charged Monday with first-degree murder, attempted murder and breaking and entering.
Earlier on Wednesday, CBC News released an exclusive interview with Sanderson’s parents, who urged their 32-year-old son to turn himself in before more people were harmed. They spoke to the CBC on the condition their names and location wouldn’t be revealed.
One of their other sons, Damien, who was also accused of participating in the stabbing, was found dead Monday on reserve with wounds the RCMP said didn’t appear to be self-inflicted.
"I want to apologize for … my sons. We don't know the whole story, but I want to apologize to everybody that was hurt and affected by this terrible situation," his mother said.
Read the full story on Sanderson’s death here.
In other news …
A new Alberta government registry of teachers in the province designed to increase transparency around disciplinary measures deadnames transgender teachers.
Men accused of plotting to kill police officers during the blockade of the Canada-U.S. border at Coutts, Alta., contemplated having two women smuggle guns into their camp in a hockey bag. Unbeknownst to them, these women were undercover cops.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told his cabinet he intends to lead the Liberals off a cliff into the next election.
In related news, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland won’t deny she’s looking into the possibility of becoming NATO’s next secretary general.
The A/V Corner
Listen: PressProgress Prairies reporter, and valued Orchard subscriber, Emily Leedham appeared on the Marc Steiner Show to talk about the connection between the “Freedom Convoy” and a burgeoning Christian nationalist movement in Canada.
Edited by Scott Schmidt
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