Last week the Ontario Court of Appeal began hearing a case where a group of Ecuadorian Indigenous peoples are suing Chevron’s Canadian branch in the hopes that a Canadian court will enforce a judgment made by the Ecuadorian government against Chevron’s American parent company.
But it’s no wonder the case has wound its way up to Canada – the original Ecuadorian settlement is $9.5 billion, the largest of its kind. In the unlikely event that they manage to pull it off, that’s quite of lot of cash to go around for the plaintiffs, lawyers and investors who’ve been bankrolling this endeavour.
(This fascinating case goes back decades and there are books and documentaries on it, some backing Chevron, others against.)
There is one group that presumably won’t share in any of the spoils though. That’s Canadian First Nations. Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, was on hand last week to pose for photos with the Ecuadorians who had flown up for the two days of arguments in a Toronto courtroom.
While this is all about collecting billions for the plaintiffs (or whatever is left after the lawyers and investors take their cut), the spiffy Manhattan PR agency doing publicity for the case argues that the Toronto court proceedings are all about “the battle to strengthen the rights of Indigenous peoples everywhere.” They’re shamelessly trying to co-opt Canadian First Nations, their allies and environmental activists to help them collect their cash.