Government Changes to Export Development Act Disappointing – Coalition Urges for More Accountability
Ottawa, October 24, 2001 – A coalition of 18 non-governmental organizations is deeply disappointed with the Bill on the Export Development Act being currently reviewed by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Bill C-31 on the Export Development Act is the result of a 3-year legislative review process.
“We need to amend the Act to make sure the Export Development Corporation upholds Canada’s commitments to protect the environment, human rights and the public right to basic information”, says Émilie Revil, coordinator of the NGO Working Group on the Export Development Corporation. “This Bill does so little. It is mute on human rights and gives EDC the green light to develop and implement its own environmental framework.”
Although the Bill mentions requiring environmental review of EDC’s activities, it leaves it up to EDC to determine the objective, scope and standards and application of the environmental review. In May 2001, the Auditor General found that EDC failed to implement its own environmental framework correctly in 92 per cent of cases reviewed.
The coalition calls for EDC’s environmental framework to be regulated under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA). The coalition also calls for the mandate of EDC to be changed to ensure that EDC supports and develop Canadian trade in a manner consistent with Canada’s obligations to protect the environment and human rights.
In the mid 80s, EDC stopped releasing project-related information on its accord. The Corporation is currently drafting its own disclosure policy, which could allow for greater transparency. However, no changes were proposed to the Export Development Act so as to give a legal force to the disclosure policy. The coalition calls for the Act to be amended to require EDC to disclose basic information to the Canadian public. The coalition also calls for EDC to be placed under the Access to Information Act.
Some of the projects supported by EDC have violated the human rights of local communities living on or near project sites. EDC currently has no requirements to take into account the human rights impacts of the activities. The legislation governing EDC needs to be amended to require EDC to take into account the human rights impacts of its activities.
“EDC should be legally obliged to respect international human rights law in all its projects”, says Warren Allmand, President of Rights & Democracy.
For mor information, contact, Émilie Revil, coordinator of the NGO Working Group on the Export Development Corporation., tel: (613) 789-4447, cell: (613) 266-8100.