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  • Supporters of Indigenous plaintiffs gather at a rally in Toronto Canada to denouce Chevron's contamination in the Ecuadorian rainforest. (Photo: Anti Chevron Committee)

    Supporters of Indigenous plaintiffs gather at a rally in Toronto Canada to denouce Chevron's contamination in the Ecuadorian rainforest. (Photo: Anti Chevron Committee)

Published 7 October 2014

Lawyers and students are outraged at the Canadian Bar Association's decision to intervene on behalf of oil-giant Chevron in Ecuadorian contamination case.

Students from the University of Toronto and members of the Law Union of Ontario will gather to show their outrage with the decision of the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) to intervene at the Supreme Court of Canada on behalf of the oil-giant Chevron in the case being heard regarding its contamination in the Ecuadorian rainforest. The groups will hold a protest in front of the offices of the Ontario Bar Association on Thursday and will be joined by the Anti-Chevron Committee of Canada and the Osgoode Indigenous Students Association. 

Lawyers in Canada are upset that the board of the CBA authorized a law firm with ties to Chevron, Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP, to submit a brief to the Supreme Court of Canada. Critics point out that the CBA's own legislative and law reform committee recommended against proceeding. The environment, aboriginal, and civil litigation committees also urged the CBA not to intervene on behalf of Chevron. Only the in-house counsel association and the corporate law section of the CBA supported an intervention.

Some lawyers are so incensed by the decision of the CBA that they have resigned their membership in the CBA. The backlash has been so large that the President of the CBA, Michele Hollins, felt it necessary to post a letter on their website explaining their decision, stating, “At the heart of the case are fundamental corporate law principles that we believe require the CBA’s intervention.”

Critics also feel that the CBA did not follow its own process for making interventions in cases such as this one. Hollins responded to that accusation in the letter stating that the process was followed yet also admits that perhaps they “Could have gone further in soliciting opinions more widely from its diverse membership.” Meanwhile organizers of the protest stated on Facebook that “The National Aboriginal Law Section and National Environmental Law Sections (NEERLS) were not consulted at all about the decision to do the intervention, nor given the opportunity to provide input into the nature of CBA's position.”

In 2013 the Ecuadorian Supreme Court ratified a ruling that stated Chevron must pay compensation to the victims and pay for the destruction caused by the deliberate contamination, the final amount being set at $9.5 Billion U.S. The plaintiffs are seeking to seize Chevron's assets in Canada in order to secure this amount as Chevron no longer has any assets in Ecuador and refuses to pay. The Anti-Chevron Committee of Canada has been diligently working to support the Indigenous plaintiffs in the case and will embark on a tour across university campuses over the coming months to denounce the crimes of Chevron in Ecuador. 

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