Saturday, March 04, 2017

Global Canada

Toronto is a city built on mining. Nearly 75% of mining companies globally are headquartered in Canada and almost 60% are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). In 2015, more than half of all capital investment in the mining business travelled through the exchange.

“If you want to register a ship for transport, you go to Liberia; if you want to play the stock market in a very aggressive manner, you go to the Cayman Islands,” says author and researcher Alain Deneault. “If you aim to create a mining company, you go to Canada.” He points out that the Canadian government supports mining companies through various means, including structural biases in the courts, a regulatory framework that permits major speculation, tax incentives and diplomatic assistance. “Canada was shaped in order to support the mining industry,” says Deneault.

“From Yonge Street to University, and from Queen to Front with some periphery around it, you have the world’s largest mining companies, lawyers, consultancies, all together in one area,”  according to the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) president Andrew Cheatle.

As Toronto has consolidated its position at the centre of the industry, questions have arisen about Canada’s willingness and ability to regulate the behaviour of transnational companies that have in many cases caused environmental devastation, and criminal acts of violence.
For Catherine Coumans, a research coordinator at the Ottawa-based NGO Mining Watch, the mining sector’s philanthropy in Toronto merely whitewashes the ignominious reality of the industry. The money that finances the Munk Cardiac Centre, for instance, is part of “this big display of benevolence in Toronto,” she says. “But the harm that was done around the world to bring that wealth together is just horrendous, and people don’t recognise that.”

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