Mandatory NOT Voluntary
Human rights and environmental standards for Canadian mining and energy companies operating abroad needed NOW
Toronto, Ontario, Sept. 7, 2006 - Canadian civil society organizations are calling on the federal government to impose mandatory measures on Canadian mining, and oil and gas companies to ensure they uphold international human rights and environmental standards while operating abroad. The call is coming as the government continues its series of national roundtables on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the extractives sector. Civil society organizations are further calling for an end to subsidies for Canadian mining, oil and gas companies that fail to meet international human rights and environmental standards while operating abroad.
The second roundtable on CSR and the extractive sector will focus on both positive and negative incentives and instruments for implementation of CSR standards and will take place in Toronto on September 12th to 14th, 2006. The roundtables have been welcomed by many civil society organizations, but only as a first step in dealing with widespread human rights and environmental violations by Canadian mining, oil and gas companies.
“This is not just a case of a few bad apples,” said Catherine Coumans of Mining Watch. “Canadian mining companies are implicated in human rights violations and environmental disasters in more than 30 countries around the world. Toxic dumping, the destruction of protected areas, forcible displacement of indigenous peoples, and threats and intimidation of local communities, is the legacy of too many Canadian mining operations abroad.”
Canadian civil society organizations are critical of voluntary codes to regulate Canadian companies operating abroad, in the knowledge that these voluntary codes have done little for the environment or human rights. Canadian policy and legal changes are needed to hold Canadian companies accountable for any human rights violations and environmental destruction they are responsible for abroad. Currently the Canadian government offers both political support through its embassies and trade commissioners and financial support through Export Development Canada and the Canadian Pension Plan to Canadian extractive industries with operations abroad.
“The federal government does not set mandatory standards for Canadian mining companies operating abroad,” said Omega Bula of the United Church of Canada. “As a result, the federal government continues to support Canadian mining and oil and gas companies, even when they are accused of violating international human rights and environmental standards. Political and financial support to our extractive companies needs to become conditional on our companies meeting the Human Rights obligations Canada has a legal obligation to uphold.”
The next roundtable meetings continue in Calgary on October 10th to 12th, 2006
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For more information contact:
Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability,
Tel: 613-789-9368 (until September 11),
Communications, Tel: (416) 880-2757
Available for interviews: Civil Society Experts on Human Rights, Environment, and Mining-Affected Communities both from Canada and from the South.
Photos available from: Global Aware (416) 596-0138 - http://www.globalaware.org/