Thursday, January 17, 2008

An Issue for 2008: Enforcing Standards of Practice for Canadian Mining Companies Operating Abroad (Liberal Policy Series #1)

This is something that I've wanted to post about for awhile, but I believe with the new year, it's about time something finally get done on this issue.

I have been a supporter for some time of the idea that much more must be done to ensure “Canadian” mining companies (many solely claim Canadian status for the tax incentives) uphold the same environmental and human rights standards that they would if they were mining in Canada.

Specifically, I authored a policy on this issue that my Brant Young Liberals put forth that calls for the Government of Canada to implement the March 29, 2007 recommendations of the "National Roundtables on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the Canadian Extractive Industry in Developing Countries." The recommendations were derived from a series of national roundtables involving the public and governmental and non-governmental experts that were originally commissioned by the former Liberal government in the fall of 2005. The full report can be found here. For shorter summaries of the recommendations and how they came about, please see: here and/or here.

In short, Canada could become a world leader on Corporate Social Responsibility if the federal government and other stakeholders acted on these recommendations. The Brant resolution also noted that if the Government of Canada refused to implement the recommendations, then the Liberal Party of Canada should make it official party policy that they will try to implement them should they form the government in the near future.

This policy is extremely important as it relates not only to upholding basic human rights and environmental standards, but also to protecting and enhancing Canada's international reputation. When these mining companies, (which, at often times are only Canadian for the tax incentives that Canada offers to companies), are responsible for major human rights and/or environmental abuse abroad (of which there are countless examples), it reflects poorly on our country and can even breed resentment in some of these countries of Canadians in general. The recommendations of the March 29 2007 report merely ask that Canadian mining companies adhere to similar practices abroad as they do here at home and a series of incentives and punishments are advocated to ensure compliance. This is an instance where Canada can once again take the lead on an important issue and be a role model to the rest of the world, much as it has been with countless other efforts, such as the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, for example.

This resolution was passed at the OYL Summer Fling as one of the top 3 policies favoured by young liberals and it is my hope that it will be lobbied successfully to the senior party. So far there is much work to be done in that regard; however, this is really is an issue the Liberal Party of Canada should take a clear stance on. The NDP has also taken some interest in this issue and I applaud them for that and I would actually be quite happy if the two parties worked together to get something done on this issue.

That said, I welcome any and all feedback or advice you could provide to improve upon the resolution that was passed to ensure what goes forward from this point on is as sound as possible.

This issue affects a huge number of people in the 3rd world and we can no longer turn a blind eyet to it. The time has come to help ensure Canadian companies don't tarnish our good name and operate responsibly overseas.

UPDATE: I noticed the link to the full report was broken. It's been fixed.

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Chadd said...

Danielle- this is agreat piece of policy. It is not enough that we got it passed at the summer fling we have to ensure the federal liberals adopt it as well!