This Sunday marks the third anniversary of the filing of a request for the RCMP to investigate Blackfire Exploration Ltd. in Calgary, an investigation that is reportedly still ongoing.
In November 2009, anti-mining activist Mariano Abarca Roblero was killed in Chiapas in southern Mexico. He had blamed Calgary-based Blackfire Exploration Ltd. for contaminated local rivers, the loss of local crops, the death of livestock and had called for the company to leave his community.
In March 2010, the Toronto Star reported, “Canadian mining watchdog groups want the RCMP to investigate Blackfire Exploration Ltd., the Calgary mining company with operations in Mexico. …The United Steelworkers and three Canadian watchdog groups (Common Frontiers-Canada, the Council of Canadians and Mining Watch Canada) planned to file an official complaint with the RCMP under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act over allegations that Blackfire was paying the mayor of a small Mexican town in return for the mayor’s favour.”
In August 2011, the Globe and Mail reported, “The RCMP has raided the office of a Canadian mining company in Calgary alleging in an affidavit that the company funnelled bribes into the personal bank account of a small-town Mexican mayor to ensure protection from anti-mining protesters. On July 20, a team of Mounties executed a search warrant on the office of Blackfire Exploration Ltd… In a sworn statement in support of the search warrant application, Constable Terri Lynn Batycki alleges the company illegally paid a local mayor, Julio Cesar Velazquez Calderon, about $19,300 (CDN) ‘to keep the peace and prevent local members of the community from taking up arms against the mine.’”
And earlier this week, iPolitics reported, “The RCMP are currently investigating several Canadian mining firms for corruption, including Blackfire Exploration and Griffiths Energy International Inc.”
Additionally, iPolitics notes, “Ottawa’s Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act has been criticized as the weakest link among western anti-corruption rules, a problem exacerbated by the sheer size of Canada’s extractive industries, the biggest in the world in many respects. In February, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird revealed amendments to CFPOA that will give it a broader net to catch Canadians who pay money to public servants, politicians and government-owned bodies to advance their business interests. …Baird’s amendments include a nationality clause as well as the removal of the facilitation payment exemption. …The exemption’s elimination will dramatically reduce the ability of companies to use it as a loophole when under investigation by the RCMP, which enforces the CFPAO.”
For more, please read:
UPDATE: Third anniversary of the death of Mariano Abarca Roblero
NEWS: RCMP raids Blackfire office in Calgary
AUDIO: Blue Planet Project organizer Claudia Campero Arena on CBC Radio’s The Current