We need your help to make Export Development Canada (EDC) more transparent!!
CALL TO ACTION
EDC continues to withhold key environmental information about the projects it supports, citing reasons of commercial confidentiality. When it does disclose information prior to supporting a project, this can be from one day to two weeks prior to signing the cheque.
A new report by Sierra Legal Defense Fund finds that while concerns over confidentiality are important, EDC has manifestly overstated these. It argues that a balanced disclosure regime can both address and protect true confidentiality concerns, while still meeting the Canadian public's expectations around greater transparency.
Write Trade Minister Peterson, and ask him to "Make EDC transparent."
Click here to print out a ready prepared letter that you can sign and send, or use the key points below to write your own letter.
Notes for writing a letter
- For projects with significant environmental impacts, require companies to disclose the EIA at least thirty days prior to board approval.
Who to address it to: (No stamp needed)
The Hon. James Peterson, MP
Minister of Trade
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Fax: (613) 944-2509/0455;
CC: (Needs a stamp)
Mr. Robert A. Wright
President and CEO
Export Development Canada
151 O'Connor Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 1K3
Fax: (613) 598-3080
And if you want, CC the trade critics at the House of Commons:
Ms. Belinda Stronach, MP
Fax: (613) 992-9407
M. Pierre Paquette, MP
Fax: (613) 995-2818
Mr. Peter Julian, MP
Fax: (613) 947-9500; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Public disclosure and review of environmental assessment information is an accepted core value reflected throughout Canadian environmental assessment practice.
- The Auditor General's report on EDC's Environmental Review (October 2004), the Treasury Board report on Crown Corporations (February 2005), and even Tony Blair's Africa Commission Report for the G8 (March 2005) have called on greater transparency within EDC, or export credit agencies (ECA's) in general;
- EDC's concerns regarding competitiveness and confidentiality are manifestly overstated - there is room for balance;
- Environmental assessment regimes in Canada and elsewhere capably manage confidentiality issues;
- Nine other ECA's - tackling similar issues - already disclose EIA's up to thirty days prior to board approval. EDC hasn't disclosed a single one;
- Project and environmental information is often already disclosed through other avenues;
- There is no evidence that disclosure causes competitive disadvantage;
- Where a company does have confidentiality concerns, an intelligently developed environmental assessment regime can address those concerns and ensure that true confidentiality aspects are protected.
In November 1999, Kimy Pernia Domico appeared before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs to talk to Canadians about the Urrà dam in Colombia.
When operations on the 340 MW dam began in 2000, it submerged over 7,400 hectares, including old growth forests and the lands and homes of 411 families, none of who had individual legal land titles, only collective indigenous land rights. 2800 people were resettled for the project, while a further 70,000 people were directly impacted.
Remarkably, although the dam was being built downstream from where the Embera Katio had lived for centuries, they were never consulted about the dam's construction. As of February 2005, they were still demanding restitution and compensation from the Government for the land and livelihoods they lost.
This is one of countless stories that have since come to light highlighting the negative environmental and social impacts of projects that have received support from a Canadian crown corporation, Export Development Canada (EDC).
While EDC responded by developing policies to take account of the environmental impacts of the projects it supports, and the Auditor General (AG) has commended the crown corporation on the improvements it has made to its process since 1999, EDC still falls seriously short in the area of transparency.
The last AG's report notes, for example, that "increased expectations for greater accountability in both the private and public sectors impose on EDC a greater responsibility to demonstrate that it exercises its discretion wisely. In our view, the counterbalance to the broad discretion in EDC's environmental review policies is greater transparency."
- Read the Sierra Legal Defense Fund "Review and Analysis of Export Development Canada's Disclosure Practices."
- Executive Summary of the Sierra Legal Report
- Press Release on the Report
- Halifax Initiative Letter to Minister Peterson
- Two page Briefing on EDC and Disclosure
- Auditor General's report on EDC, "Environmental Review at Export Development Canada"
- Treasury Board "Review of the Governance Framework for Crown Corporations."