Participatory Rights in the Ontario Mining Sector: An International Human Rights Perspective
McGill International Journal of Sustainable Development Law & Policy, Vol. 6, No. 2, 2010
49 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2011
Date Written: March 2, 2011
There has been a growing focus in Canada on the environmental and social impacts of Canadian extractive companies operating extra-territorially. However, recent disputes concerning the lack of public consultation on proposed large domestic mining projects, as well as disputes surrounding Aboriginal rights in lands subject to mining claims, have highlighted significant human rights concerns associated with Canada’s domestic provincial and territorial mining regimes. This article assesses, from the perspective of international human rights law, how both emerging and established international human rights of participation are treated in the Ontario mining sector. It examines the extent to which the general right to participation in environmental decision-making, the right of aboriginal communities to free prior and informed consent, and the right of peaceful assembly have been protected through Ontario’s mining regime and by the courts in disputes over mining activity on land subject to aboriginal rights and/or title claims. Two recent cases, Frontenac Ventures Corporation v. Ardoch Algonquin First Nation and Platinex Inc v Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation, raise serious concerns as to whether domestic law, as it has been applied in the mining sector, is consistent with Canada’s international human rights obligations. Moreover, it is not clear that the new Far North Act and recent amendments to the Ontario Mining Act sufficiently address these concerns.
Keywords: Human rights, environmental rights, aboriginal rights, free prior and informed consent, mining law, public protest, injunctions
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