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Regulating Canadian Mining Companies Operating Internationally - October 2005 Conference

Jamie Kneen Communications and Outreach Coordinator responsible for: strategic research, social media, and public engagement; our Africa program, environmental assessment, and uranium mining.

Canadian mining companies have been alleged to be at the root of forced resettlement, environmental destruction, negotiating with hostile regimes, as well as being involved in a morass of violations of human, workers’ and indigenous rights. MiningWatch Canada has documented international cases to expose the negative social, environmental, economical and political consequences of Canadian-based or Canadian-financed mining operations.

On October 20th, 2005, MiningWatch Canada held a roundtable in Ottawa to explore and discuss options for legislative and regulatory changes applicable to Canadian mining companies operating internationally. This event brought together Canadian representatives from the government, industry and civil society as well as invited guests from Chile, Ghana and the Philippines.

We distributed a policy framework that highlights changes necessary in the current structure of legislation and regulatory practices. This framework identifies facilitative, incentive, and coercive mechanisms for regulation and describes how they can be implemented within the current Canadian legal and socio-political context.

Our invited guests formed a panel and presented case studies about the impacts of Canadian mining companies in their regions. We welcomed the international perspectives of César Padilla, representing the Latin American Observatory for Environmental Conflicts (OLCA) in Chile, Abdulai Darimani from the Third World Network-Africa, and Melizel F. Asuncion, from the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth-Philippines.

Sara L. Seck, a PhD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, presented the keynote address, and claimed that the real reasons why governments are reluctant to regulate is because these reasons have more to do with economic self-interest than international law. Seck continues her argument by debunking three different types of myths that are traditionally used to justify non-action: (1) the sovereignty myth, (2) the separate corporate personality myth, and (3) the international comity myth (the mutual recognition by nations of each others’ laws).

Many issues raised were generated from the dynamic, multi-stakeholder discussion groups that took place during the afternoon roundtables.

The background papers are available on our web site.