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‘Deeply disturbing’ report raises questions about federal interventions supporting Canadian mining companies overseas despite human rights concerns

Source: 
The Hill Times

Written by Kevin Philipupillai, The Hill Times

Critics say Global Affairs Canada continues to improperly prioritize ‘economic diplomacy’ over its human rights and environmental obligations.

NDP MP Heather McPherson says the Liberal government has continued the previous Conservative government's emphasis on promoting trade at the expense of human rights and environmental concerns. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

A new report provides a window into the Harper government’s aggressive support for a Canadian mining company in Guatemala, but MPs and human rights advocates say the current government still improperly prioritizes “economic diplomacy” over its human rights and environmental obligations.

NDP MP and international development critic Heather McPherson told The Hill Times that the Liberal government has continued the concerning approach detailed in the March 19 report “The Two Faces of Canadian Diplomacy,” a collaborative project by Canadian law schools.

“As soon as Global Affairs became one entity with trade, diplomacy, and development all under one roof,” said McPherson (Edmonton Strathcona, Alta.), referring to changes made under then Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, “trade became the raison d’etre. And development and diplomacy became the poor cousins.”

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Although these records relate to interventions under Harper, human rights advocates told The Hill Times that the Canadian government continues to follow this approach, prioritizing economic diplomacy on behalf of Canadian mining companies overseas ahead of its own human rights policies and Canada’s international human rights obligations.

“We have walked into embassies and raised concerns with them about issues happening at Canadian mine sites and been told directly by the ambassador and others that we’ve met with that their mandate is to promote and protect the interests of Canadian companies operating in that country,” said Catherine Coumans, the research co-ordinator and Asia-Pacific program co-ordinator at the advocacy group MiningWatch Canada.

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Full article available here.