Allegations of abuse keep mounting against Canadian mining companies operating abroad, yet the Canadian government has failed to live up to its duty to protect human rights and provide remedy for those harmed. Two new private member’s bills, if implemented, will greatly strengthen corporate accountability legislation in Canada.
[Ottawa, ON] Two separate bills tabled in the House of Commons today aim to ensure that Canadian mining companies are held to account in Canada for egregious human rights abuses and environmental harm caused by their operations overseas.
Bill C-263 tabled by MP Heather McPherson (Edmonton—Strathcona, NDP) seeks to transform the office of the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) into the effective corporate watchdog it was promised to be, before being stripped of all meaningful powers to investigate allegations of abuse.
Bill C-262 tabled by MP Peter Julian (New Westminster—Burnaby, NDP) requires Canadian companies to identify, prevent, and mitigate human rights and environmental abuses throughout their global operations and supply chains. In line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which emphasize the rights of impacted people to access remedy, the bill also provides access to Canadian courts for those harmed by Canadian companies and their subsidiaries overseas.
“Despite persistent allegations of abuse tied to Canadian mining operations, Canadian governments have continuously caved to mining industry claims that voluntary standards are sufficient when it comes to human rights,” says Catherine Coumans, Co-manager and Asia-Pacific Program Coordinator at MiningWatch Canada. “Decades of attempts to hold Canadian companies accountable in Canada for serious abuses perpetrated overseas have resulted in ineffectual offices like the National Contact Point, the Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor, and now the Ombudsperson – none of which are designed to actually address corporate impunity or provide remedy for harm done. Lack of accountability and consequences in Canada has perpetuated abuses overseas.”
Canadian mining companies continue to be associated with serious human rights abuses at their overseas operations, including forced evictions, sexual violence, forced labour and slavery, abuse of Indigenous rights, and significant environmental harm. Over the last decade, a number of UN treaty bodies and the UN Human Rights Committee have specifically focused on Canadian mining companies and called on Canada to “develop a legal framework that affords legal remedies to people who have been victims of activities of such corporations operating abroad.” France has already implemented human rights and environmental due diligence legislation and the EU Commission is moving forward with a draft law.
“Canada continues to be a major player in the global mining industry, but is failing to address ongoing human rights and environmental concerns tied to Canadian mining operations overseas,” says Catherine Coumans. “We need to follow the lead of other countries in adopting binding legislation to hold Canadian companies to account. It is time for Canada to quit stalling, quit caving to mining industry lobbying and move to implement the private member's bills that have been tabled today.”
MiningWatch Canada joins the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability in welcoming the tabling of these two bills.
- Catherine Coumans, MiningWatch Canada, [email protected], tel. 613-256-8331
- Val Croft, Communications, MiningWatch Canada, [email protected], tel. 416-707-5986
For more information:
- NDP press release: "NDP tables bill to fight for human and environmental rights"
- CNCA press release: "Bills Introduced to Protect People and the Planet Warrant All-Party Support"
- See Backgrounder “Canada’s Mining Dominance and Failure to Protect Human Rights”
- Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability: Model legislation for mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence in Canada