Press Release - October 13, 2005

Prominent Canadians, in a letter to the Prime Minister today, called on the government to put a stop to human rights and environmental abuses by Canadian companies overseas.

In recent years, allegations of forced re-settlement, contamination of lands and waters, support for repressive regimes, violations of workers and indigenous rights, assaults and even killings by security forces, have been associated with specific Canadian companies.

"The voluntary approach to corporate social responsibility has failed in many cases," says Dr. David Suzuki, geneticist, broadcaster and environmental activist.

The joint letter to Prime Minister Paul Martin calls for legislation making Canadian companies accountable for their conduct abroad and urges the government to condition financial and political support for companies on stringent human rights and environmental criteria.

"Canada needs commitment, not rhetoric, when it comes to human rights." says Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, English branch.

The letter is in response to a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade report on mining in developing countries. The report recommends steps for the government to ensure Canadian companies act responsibly abroad. The government response to the report is expected by October 19.

"This is the Prime Minister's chance to show leadership in ensuring that the all-party recommendations become law - and are implemented," says the Very Reverend Lois Wilson.

15 international legal experts, a former Liberal cabinet member, a former senator, business groups, environmentalists, development and church leaders, and human rights advocates were among the signatories.

Issued by:

Amnesty International Canada
Canadian Council for International Co-operation
Entreaide missionaire
Friends of the Earth Canada
Halifax Initiative
MiningWatch Canada
Rights & Democracy

For More Information Contact:

Katia Gianneschi,
Canadian Council for International Co-operation
Media Relations, 613-241-7007 ext 311