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House of Commons Committee tells Government - “Regulate Canadian Mining Companies Abroad - Investigate TVI Pacific in the Philippines

Catherine Coumans

Ph.D., Research Coordinator and Asia-Pacific regional program coordinator.

In a landmark report, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade (SCFAIT) calls on the Canadian government to ensure "socially and environmentally responsible conduct by Canadian companies."

In their 14th report, the Committee members state that they are: "Concerned that Canada does not yet have laws to ensure that the activities of Canadian mining companies in developing countries conform to human rights standards, including the rights of workers and indigenous peoples."

The Committee provides eight very important recommendations including:

  • Make Canadian government support for companies, such as "export and project financing and services offered by Canadian missions abroad - conditional on companies meeting clearly defined corporate social responsibility and human rights standards, particularly through the mechanism of human rights impact assessments;"
  • Develop "new mechanisms for monitoring the activities of Canadian mining companies in developing countries and for dealing with complaints alleging socially and environmentally irresponsible conduct and human rights violations.";
  • "Establish clear legal norms in Canada to ensure that Canadian companies and residents are held accountable when there is evidence of environmental and/or human rights violations associated with the activities of Canadian mining companies;"
  • Strengthen the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises by "clearly defining the responsibilities of multinational enterprises with regard to human rights,…making compliance with international human rights standards obligatory,…working towards establishing common rules of evidence" and strengthening the "mandate of the Canadian National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines" so that it can "respond to complaints promptly,…undertake proper investigations,…recommend appropriate measures against companies found to be acting in violation of the OECD Guidelines."
  • Develop "specific rules for companies operating in conflict zones."

This report is based on evidence that has been heard by the Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Development, related to the activities of Canadian mining companies, over several years.

TVI Pacific Philippines

The Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Development (of SCFAIT) also investigated in hearings the activities of Canadian mining company TVI Pacific in the Philippines and concluded:

The Subcommittee is deeply concerned about the possible impact of the activities of TVI pacific Inc., a Canadian mining company, on the indigenous rights and the human rights of people in the area, and recommends that the Government of Canada:

1. "Conduct an investigation of any impact of TVI Pacific's Canatuan mining project in Mindanao on the indigenous rights and the human rights of people in the area and on the environment, and table a report on this investigation in Parliament within 90 days;" 2. "Ensure that it does not promote TVI Pacific Inc. pending the outcome of this investigation."

Catherine Coumans from MiningWatch Canada and two of MiningWatch Canada's partners from the municipality affected by TVI's operations, Mr. Onsino Mato and Mr. Godofredo Gallos testified before the Subcommittee.

In November 2004, preceding the formation of the Subcommittee, MiningWatch Canada hosted a delegation of four representatives from the Philippine municipality affected by TVI Pacific as part of an ongoing partnership with members of this community. During that visit, Catherine accompanied the delegation to a meeting with MP Ed Broadbent. Following this meeting Mr. Broadbent's office expressed interest in having both Catherine and delegates from the Philippines testify before the Subcommittee on the human rights concerns of indigenous and community men and women, resulting from TVI's operations.

Immediately preceding the hearings that were held on March 23, 2005, MiningWatch Canada received notification from TVI Pacific's legal counsel stating: "We also understand that representatives of Mining Watch are slated to appear next week before the sub-committee on Human Rights and International Development to provide further comment, if any, on the mine. TVI is concerned that Mining Watch has levelled serious and unwarranted accusations about TVI's activities. TVI hereby provides formal notice that if the Mining Watch website is not properly corrected and/or if any Mining Watch representative gives inaccurate and defamatory information at the forthcoming hearing, that TVI will commence action in the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta seeking damages for defamation."

Onsino Mato and Godofredo Galos from the Philippines decided to testify on TVI Pacific before the subcommittee in camera.