Press Release - Friday, May 19, 2000

Coalition and Prominent Canadians call on Minister Pettigrew to legislate the Export Development Corporation to Protect People and the Environment
May 19, 2000
Ottawa - Minister Pettigrew failed to recommend changes to increase the Export Development Development Corporation's public transparency and accountability to internationally upheld standards, in his response to a Standing Committee report, "Reviewing the Export Development Act", presented to the House of Commons yesterday.
"We need legal requirements on the EDC to ensure adequate public disclosure and social, environmental and human rights protections, and the government is not providing them",said Pam Foster, coordinator of the NGO Working Group on the Export Development Corporation. 'By tip-toeing around the edges and avoiding real reform of the EDC, EDC will continue to stomp on human rights and the environment".
The Government's report argues that significant strides are being made by the EDC to increase disclosure, yet it is unclear to the public what these strides are. EDC has yet to publish information regarding the companies and projects it finances. The report also argues that a distinction needs to be made between the Canada and the Corporate Accounts of the EDC, a distinction already made by the fact the Canada Account falls under the Access to Information Act. The majority of EDC's business falls under the Corporate Account that is exempt from the Access to Information Act.
"The public wants disclosure of project-specific information commensurate, at minimum, with EDC's US competitors. By leaving this in the hands of EDC, the government fails to act in the public interest", says Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch.
The Government report calls for statutory weight to be given to EDC's environmental framework which the government's own consultants called inadequate. The options to be considered do not include the adoption of internationally accepted standards, such as those in use at the World Bank.
"Without requiring EDC to adopt strong environmental and social standards, EDC reporting to the Auditor-General is an exercise that will not translate into meaningful change on the ground", says Linda Nowlan, lawyer with the West Coast Environmental Law Association.