OTTAWA, Oct. 22, 2013 /CNW/ - People who have been harmed by Canadian
mining, oil and gas companies overseas may soon be able to bring their
cases to Canada.
Today, 23 Canadian organizations and their international allies issued a
call to action to Members of Parliament, and all Canadians, to ensure
that victims of Canadian corporate abuse abroad can access justice in
The call to action addresses two key barriers to justice: weak
out-of-court mechanisms and obstacles to suing in Canadian courts.
"It is time for Canada to create a mandatory extractive-sector Ombudsman
and to legislate access to courts for people who are harmed by the
overseas operations of Canadian oil, mining and gas companies," said
Emily Dwyer, Coordinator of the Canadian Network on Corporate
Canada's voluntary Extractive-Sector CSR Counsellor has proved
hopelessly ineffective since the Office was established in 2009.
"We brought the first case to the CSR Counsellor's Office in 2011 when
Mexican workers were harassed and intimidated because they tried to
unionize at a Canadian mine," said Valeria Scorza, ProDESC, Mexico.
"Even though the Counsellor found that our complaint was made in good
faith and met all the criteria, she couldn't do anything because the
company wasn't willing to participate."
Ms. Scorza's experience is not unique. No complaint has ever gone
through a full review process. In most cases the company has simply
walked away. Even the now disbanded advisory panel to the CSR
Counsellor recognizes the Office is deeply flawed.
"A Canadian company implicated in human rights abuses should not be able
to put a stop to a complaint process," said Ken Neumann, National
Director for the United Steelworkers union. "An independent
decision-maker should be making that decision, based on the merits of
Companies regularly try to hide from accountability by insisting that
cases related to their overseas operations should not be heard by
"In our globalized world we can't hide behind the idea that the harm is
happening somewhere else and is someone else's problem," says Alex
Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada. "Canadian
companies need to be held to account in Canadian courts."
The CNCA's campaign is responding to calls for solidarity from
international allies directly impacted by Canadian companies'
"People in the global South are demanding justice from transnational
mining companies," said Rev. Rex Reyes, National Council of Churches of
the Philippines. "As the home of this global industry, Canada must do
more to hold companies to human rights and environmental standards. We
need mechanisms that give us justice."
The CNCA unites environmental and human rights NGOs, faith groups,
labour unions, and research and solidarity groups across Canada who are
advocating for federal legislation to establish mandatory corporate
accountability standards for Canadian extractive companies operating
abroad, especially in developing countries.
International guest speakers at launch events:
Angelica Choc, Guatemala
Plaintiff in Choc vs. HudBay, one of three cases against HudBay Minerals
proceeding in Ontario civil courts. For more see www.chocversushudbay.com
Valeria Scorza, Mexico
Complaint against Excellon Resources submitted to the CSR Counsellor's
Office. For more see: http://www.prodesc.org.mx/?page_id=558
Sister Maudilia Lopez, Guatemala
Complaint against Goldcorp submitted to the National Contact Point for
the OECD Guidelines. For more see: http://www.oecd.org/daf/inv/mne/48754883.pdf
Rev. Rex Reyes, Philippines
National Council of Churches of the Philippines. For more see: http://nccphilippines.org/site/
CNCA member organisations include:
• Amnesty International Canada • Africa-Canada Forum • Americas Policy Group • Asia Pacific Working Group • Canada Tibet Committee • Canadian Council for International Co-operation • Canadian Labour Congress • Committee for Human Rights in Latin America • Development and Peace • Entraide Missionnaire • Friends of the Earth Canada • Halifax Initiative Coalition • Inter Pares • KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives • MiningWatch Canada • Projet Accompagnement Québec-Guatemala • Public Service Alliance of Canada • Publish What You Pay-Canada • Social Justice Committee of Montreal • Solidarité Laurentides Amérique central • Steelworkers Humanity Fund • United Church of Canada • Unifor
SOURCE: Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability
For further information:
Emily Dwyer, Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability, (819) 592-6657, firstname.lastname@example.org
Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Amnesty International, (416) 363-9933, ext. 332; cell (416) 904-7158; email@example.com
Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada, (416) 544-5951
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, (416) 544-5966, (416) 434-2221, firstname.lastname@example.org