Letter to EDC President Re: Reporting out of the Compliance Officer in the EDC 2002 Annual report - May 13, 2003

May 13, 2003

Mr. Ian Gillespie
President and CEO
Export Development Canada
151 O’Connor
Ottawa, ON  K1A 1K3

Dear Mr. Gillespie:

Re: Reporting out of the Compliance Officer in the EDC 2002 Annual report

Yolanda Banks, Corporate Social Responsibility Advisor, kindly forwarded us two copies of Export Development Canada’s (EDC) 2002 Annual Report, which we read with great interest.

We appreciate that this year a principal focus of EDC’s public policy objectives was to highlight the existence of its new Compliance Officer (CO) position and increase awareness of the position among different groups at EDC, and among corporations and civil society. The meetings you held and the disclosure of information on EDC’s web site helped realize this goal.

However, we were very disappointed in the manner in which the CO reported out in the 2002 annual report. The new position earned only two brief paragraphs in a 90 page report, merely informing us that in “the inaugural year of the program, two complaints were received”.

Perhaps our expectations were raised with regard to the extent to which the Compliance Officer would report out. At our meeting last November with Alison Lawford, EDC’s Compliance Officer, we were encouraged to submit recommendations on what we would like to see reported in the CO section of the Annual Report. We submitted the following details a week before the submission deadline for the Annual Report.


    * A record of the advice the Compliance Officer has given to EDC with regards to conducting ethical business practices.  (As is provided in the annual reports of ethics commissioners for almost every provincial government in Canada.)

    * An outline of the measures that the Compliance Officer has taken to advance transparency, public disclosure and accountability at EDC.  (As is provided in the annual reports of the Federal Information Commissioner and Provincial Information Commissioners in almost every province in Canada)  

    * A list, with description, of all complaints brought before the Compliance Officer, including information pertaining to the outcomes of disputes.  (As is standard practice in every other similar government agency at the Federal and Provincial levels.)   
    * A list of all decisions made by the Board on the recommendations brought to them by the Compliance Officer position.  (This is also a standard practice of the government, and is highlighted in the work and periodic reports of the Auditor General.)

    * Actions EDC has taken to comply with complaints brought against it.

    * Information highlighting the compliance audits that have been conducted of the EDC and of its own Compliance Officer position.  (As above.)

    * A section to include comments by businesses and NGOs.  (Since introducing its Guidelines for Multi National Enterprises, the OECD has started issuing an annual report highlighting progress on the Guidelines, and including comments from NGOs and Business.)

Ms. Lawford acknowledged receipt of these recommendations, although only a portion of one was incorporated into this year’s annual report. Given the minimal information made available in the 2002 report, we are therefore looking forward to receiving a copy of a separate and more comprehensive annual report compiled by the Compliance Officer that includes information pertaining to many of the above recommendations. This would not only serve as a useful public education tool for EDC, but also indicate that you are taking the role, integrity and independence of the Compliance Officer position seriously.

The Compliance Advisor/Ombudsman of the International Finance Corporation and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, one of the models on which you have based this new EDC position, issues a separate Annual Report for its CAO. You can find copies of the report at http://www.cao-ombudsman.org/ev.php?URL_ID=1729&URL_DO=DO_ TOPIC&URL_ SECTION=201&reload=1052845248

We look forward to receiving a copy of the EDC Compliance Officer’s Report 2002.

Yours sincerely,

Fraser Reilly-King
Coordinator, NGO Working Group on the EDC

CC:   Alison Lawford, Compliance Officer, EDC

        Pierre Pettigrew, Minister of International Trade

        Sheila Fraser, Auditor General