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Hey Everyone!

If you are interested, there is an on-line petition at www.notankers.ca that will hopefully protect the BC coastline. Up until now, for fear of environmental disasters, oil tankers have not been allowed along the coast between the mainland and the Queen Charlotte Islands in particular. The gov't wants to lift this ban to facilitate oil transportation.

If you live in the Ottawa area you might have seen a loonie with a decal on it...this is part of the initiative to spread awareness. Please check out the website to learn more and pass this info along to others that might be interested.

Thanks! :)

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Yeah, so The Mint really isn't enjoying this.

Activists vow to go to court over oily loonies

By Judith Lavoie, Times ColonistFebruary 11, 2009

The Dogwood Initiative is sticking with its stickers.

Last week, the environmental group received a letter from Ottawa lawyer Kathryn Reynolds on behalf the Royal Canadian Mint ordering it to stop distributing removable decals that turn the loon on loonies into an oil-soaked bird, swimming on an oily ocean or risk being taken to court.

"We have consulted lawyers and they all thought we are within our rights," said Charles Campbell, Dogwood communications director.

"The ball is now in the hands of the mint. We are prepared to defend ourselves in court," he said.

However, Reynolds, when contacted by the Times Colonist, said she could not comment.

"We are going to have to wait until we get a response," she said.

The call was referred to the mint's communications department, which did not return the call.

Campbell said Dogwood's letter, sent to the mint on Friday, expressed surprise at the "heavy-handed response."

The removable decal is part of a campaign to raise awareness of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway project which would ship crude oil from the Alberta oilsands to Asia through pipelines and a tanker port at Kitimat.

In a letter to the Times Colonist, Steven Greenaway, spokesman for Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines, said tankers would travel through Principle Channel or Caamano Sound and Douglas Channel, but not through the narrow Inside Passage.

Campbell said the mint's assertion that Dogwood is in contravention of the Currency Act does not make sense.

"The mint's brazen attempt to use a law intended to stop people from melting down coins is nothing but a heavy handed effort to silence our campaign," he said.

More than 150,000 decals are now in circulation and the target is one million, he said.


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So here's the section of the Currency Act that the Mint appears to be relying on:

Currency Act]

11. (1) No person shall, except in accordance with a licence granted by the Minister, melt down, break up or use otherwise than as currency any coin that is current and legal tender in Canada.


I can see how this is a legal conundrum, despite my unwavering support for the Dogwood Initiative. The coins are being used for a use other than currency. That said, they are being used as currency concurrently, and the alternate use does not detract in any way from their purpose as legal tender. I do not imagine such a double-use would have been in the contemplation of the legislators who drafted the Act, however I would think that their intention was to ensure that currency is not permanently defaced or destroyed, which is not happening here. The decals do not in any way diminish the value of the loonies, or the ability to use them as currency, so I think they might be OK. The fact that they are removable decals and not stickers should help here.

(Funny how I have been putting off doing legal research for school all day, but have all kinds of motivation to read legislation about this issue).

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No legislation, or application thereof, can contravene the Charter. Simple enough.

Is it, though? An infringement by the Mint on the rights of the Dogwood Initiative to freely express itself could be saved by section 1 of the Charter, which states the following:

The Charter]

1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

If a Charter challenge was brought' date=' the Mint would likely argue that the circulation of currency free of defacement and political activism is necessary in a free and democratic society, and therefore a limit on the freedom of the Dogwood Initiative in this case would be justified. I think a [i']Charter challenge would have a lower likelihood of success than a challenge focusing on the purpose and intent of the Currency Act.

what about those breast cancer quarters? and all the quarters the mint puts out for the olympics and events of that magnitude? if i flip a coin to decide what to have for dinner, will i go to jail?

Obviously, the ones the Mint makes in-house are legal tender from the get-go and not altered after the fact.

As for flipping a coin, like I said above I suspect the intent of the legislation was to defend against the defacing (and de-circulating) of currency. Actions like that (or throwing them in wishing wells, etc.) don't impact the ability to use the coin in the future.

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Look at the great news I just received from a group I've been speaking with called EcoJustice:

We have great news this week from Alberta's tar sands that I want to share with you.

Thanks to the efforts of an Alberta citizen and his Ecojustice lawyers, the oil company responsible for the deaths of hundreds of ducks in a huge tailings pond last spring might have to pay close to a million dollars in fines.

While the long-awaited charges are fantastic news, they come only after months of delay and the launch of our own lawsuit. In January our new Alberta lawyers Barry Robinson and Karin Buss launched a private prosecution of Syncrude Canada to ensure that the company would be held responsible after the ducks mistook its massive toxic tailings pond north of Fort McMurray for an actual lake.

Our lawsuit achieved its objective - lighting a fire under the federal and Alberta governments who less than one month later finally followed suit and formally charged Syncrude with fines that could total $800,000.

Evidently tarsands companies aren't above the law after all. Sometimes it just takes a serious nudge from a concerned citizen and some good lawyers.

Thank you for supporting our work and for helping us achieve our recent string of victories in the courts. Together we are making a difference.

Have an absolutely 'ducky' Valentines Day!


Devon Page

PS. If you are looking for other ways to get news from Ecojustice, check out our new Ecojustice blog, send this to a friend or become a fan of Ecojustice on Facebook.

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Wow, I had no idea how much discussion this would generate! Thanks for keeping me informed on all the debates, I've passed it along to a few people at work. It turns out we rec'd a 'nice' letter from the mint just last week 'asking' us to stop putting on the decals. Fortunately by then all of our stickers were already distributed. Thanks for your support!

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Here's another fun-fact about the Alberta Tar Sands operation:

I believe that one of the really neat things about this oil-pillaging in our country is that a by-product of it is that the world's largest reservoir of water (I believe it's the largest) has now been created as a result. Why? Because every second that they are converting the tar-sands to useable oil they are also creating vast amounts of contaminated water - so contaminated that no one knows how to clean it or what to do with it. So, they just keep it all penned up. This means they are essentially destroying useable water, which is now effectively no longer part of the ecosystem, at a point in history when a huge percentage of the world's population has no water to drink.

Funny thing about water ... it stays in reservoirs until the reservoir has a leak or a full-flood. Then the fun starts...

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