Press Release - Friday, September 21, 2001

Government Cahnges to Export Development Act Too Minor - Leaves Bad Driver in Driver’s Seat
Coalition Urges for More Accountability
Ottawa, September 21, 2001 –  A coalition of 17 non-governmental oganizations reacted with concern to changes proposed to the Export Development Act introduced by the government yesterday. Bill C-31 is the result of a 3-year legislative review process. No recommendations made by the NGO Working Group on the Export Development Corporation are reflected in the proposed amendments. 
“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. “The changes presented yesterday will have negligible impact on the daily operations of the Corporation. They leave a proven bad driver behind the wheel.”
Although the government has proposed the Act be amended to require environmental review of EDC’s activities, it leaves EDC up to determining the objective, scope, 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 develops 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 requirement to take into account the human rights impacts of the activities. Changes introduced yesterday make no mention of international obligations. 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.
EDC has been involved in a number of investments that have had terrible social and environmental consequences abroad. EDC’s business continues to grow, having facilitated $45 billion of export trade in 2000.-30-  
For more information contact:
Émilie Revil, Coordinator of the NGO Working Group
tel.: 613-789-4447           cell.: 613-266-8100