Press Release - Tuesday, June 26, 2001

Changes to EDC’s Policy are good, but not enough
(Ottawa, June 26, 2001). Long-awaited changes to the Export Development Corporation’s Act will increase EDC’s accountability, however, the government has failed to use the best tools available, existing legislation which EDC is currently exempted from. EDC is exempted from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Access to Information Act. 
“Government took the low road in legislating the environment under EDC’s own act instead of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. As in the case of transparency, government has left the fox in charge of the henhouse”, says Émilie Revil, Coordinator of the NGO Working Group on the Export Development Corporation. 
The Auditor-General’s report released last month found that EDC correctly implemented its own framework in only 2 of 26 projects reviewed. Placing EDC under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) would give the Minister responsible for the environment and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency authority to design and oversee implementation of the environmental framework. 
“Minister Pettigrew’s proposals for appropriate environmental assessments are good, and it is this procedure that should be mandated in law, not only the requirement to perform a review”, notes Pamela Foster, Coordinator of the Halifax Initiative Coalition. 
Minister Pettigrew outlined other changes to the Export Development Act relating to debt relief and the protection of human rights and labour standards. Ensuring that EDC is responsible for loan losses to those countries that are highly indebted and poor is important, however the new policy will not apply to loans which are currently uncollectable that are on EDC books – loans totaling over one billion dollars.  
EDC’s activities can result in human rights violations, as shows the recent kidnapping of indigenous leader Kimy Pernia Domico, in Colombia. Mr. Domico's disappearance is believed linked to his vocal opposition to an EDC-financed hydro-electric dam. 
“EDC should be legally obliged to respect international human rights law in all its projects”, says Warren Allmand, President of Rights & Democracy. 
For more information contact:
Émilie Revil, Coordinator of the NGO Working Group
tel.: 613-789-4447                cell.: 613-266-8100              fax: 613-241-5302