Press Release - Thursday, June 15, 2000

Secrecy surrounds EDC’s Plans to Decrease Secrecy
Coalition calls EDC Consultations Fatally Flawed
June 15, 2000
Ottawa – The Export Development Corporation (EDC) will nor release the draft of its disclosure policy or key background papers to those participating in public consultations on disclosure this week. EDC gave less than three weeks notice of the consultations. In December 1999,. EDC informed the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade that it was working on a draft policy. The Committee recommended that EDC submit its disclosure policy for public consultations prior to its finalization as corporate policy. Unlike similar agencies in other countries, and despite repeated requests by Canadian NGOs, EDC has failed to commit to release a draft of its public disclosure policy for public comment.
“EDC’s refusal to release its draft disclosure policy and to commit to further consultations before a draft is finalized, shows its lack of commitment to transparency and public accountability”, said Pamela Foster, Coordinator of the NOG Working Group on the Export Development Corporation.
EDC did promise to release a discussion paper on disclosure, yet it has not yet been posted on the website, although the consultations began yesterday. The consultations are taking place in 6 cities. Due to lack of notice, few citizens groups are able to participate in the consultations. In addition, some focus groups (small group s reflecting a sample of EDC stakeholders) are taking place without citizen group representation. Media are prohibited from attending the two-hour consultations.
“EDC has done little to alert citizen groups, let alone the public, that hearing s are taking place. Consultations are an important part of the democratic process, however the level of secrecy surrounding EDC and these consultations is an affront to democracy”, said Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch.
Members of the NGO Working Group on the Export Development Corporation will be attending the consultations to call attention to the flawed process and to reiterate a call to lift the shroud of secrecy surrounding EDC. The NGO Working Group recommends that EDC’s policy should be to disclose project-specific information, as is done by EDC’s US counterparts. The Working Group also recommends that all of EDC’s activities be subject to the Access to Information Act. Currently only some of EDC’s activities are subject to the Act.
“EDC is not accountable or transparent to the Canadian public. As a public institution, this is unacceptable because the Canadian Parliament, and through it, the Canadian public, are ultimately responsible for EDC’s performance and its image abroad”, says Betty Plewes, President-CEO of the Canadian Council of International Cooperation.
As a public financial institution, EDC has a government-guaranteed credit rating, immunity from taxes and its capital base is derived from taxpayer dollars.
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For more information, contact: Pamel Foster, 613 –789-4447,