Canadian mining, oil and gas companies have been implicated in well-documented cases of human rights violations and environmental disasters, worldwide. Yet the Government of Canada facilitates extractive investments overseas, often in the absence of public assurances that projects will respect both the environment and human rights. Public support comes in the form of political assistance, such as through embassies and trade commissioners. Significant financial backing is also provided through public agencies such as Export Development Canada (EDC) and the multilateral development banks, such as the World Bank's private sector lending arm, the International Finance Corporation.
In 2005, a subcommittee of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade (SCFAIT) held hearings on the activities of Canadian mining companies in developing countries. Its fourteenth report to the Government of Canada calls for significant policy and law reform to improve the social and environmental performance of Canadian companies when they operate overseas. In 2006, the Canadian government hosted a comprehensive consultation process on Corporate Social Responsibility and the Canadian Extractive Industry in Developing Countries. The consultations culminated in 2007 with the release of a consensus-based, multi-stakeholder final report that contains a series of policy reform recommendations. In 2009, the government finally responded to the findings of the report, rejecting almost all of the recommendations.
We work within the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA) for:
legislation to hold Canadian companies accountable in Canada for human rights abuse and environmental destruction committed abroad;
reforms that make the granting of public financial and political assistance to Canadian companies that operate abroad contingent on compliance with human rights and environmental standards; and
the inclusion of international human rights norms in World Bank policies regarding support for the private sector.