DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE delivers strong message to Ottawa on the need to call Canadian mining companies to account



    MONTREAL, Oct. 24 /CNW Telbec/ - DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE is today
delivering a strong message to the Harper government from well over a hundred
and fifty thousand people across the country, who support making Canadian
mining companies accountable for their actions in their overseas operations.
    In Ottawa, Development AND PEACE representatives are handing over almost
153,000 signed 'Action Letters' to Deepak Obhrai, parliamentary secretary to
the Honourable Maxime Bernier, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister. The letters
urge the federal government to deny support to Canadian mining companies who
violate international environmental and human rights standards.
    DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE, which is in the 2nd year of its "Canadian mining
called to account" advocacy campaign, is also holding an information session
on Parliament Hill for MPs and Senators on the need for strong accountability
mechanisms for Canadian mining companies operating in Africa, Asia and Latin
America. The session will feature Mr. Abu Brima, Executive Director of the
Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD) from Sierra Leone, who has
been instrumental in the struggle to stop the trade in conflict diamonds; as
well as New Democrat MP Alexa McDonough, who recently traveled with
DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE to Honduras. There she witnessed first-hand the
environmental degradation and negative impacts on local communities of an open
pit gold mine run by Entre Mares, a subsidiary of Goldcorp Inc, a Canadian
company.
    Abu Brima uses the example of Koidu Holdings (that until May 2007 was 40%
owned by Energem Resources of Vancouver, BC), and which mines diamonds from
kimberlite in the Kono district in eastern Sierra Leone: "Koidu Holdings has
reduced the amount and quality of the water that people in the community have
access to. They have failed to relocate about 5,000 people who are directly
affected by their blasting. Neither have they compensated the people of the
community appropriately for the damages caused to their plantations" said
Brima, "Canadian mining companies abroad need to respect basic human rights
and the local environment in which they are operating."
    Parliamentarians will be urged to press the Harper government to make the
implementation of the March 2006 recommendations of the National Roundtables
on Corporate Social Responsibility an urgent priority.
    "Today marks the 209th day since the federal government received the
report on the National Roundtables on Corporate Social Responsibility, and
which recommended significant and concrete measures to improve the performance
of Canadian extractive companies," said Mary Durran, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE's
Advocacy and Research Program Officer.
    The report was the result of a ground-breaking consensus between civil
society organizations, the mining industry, and academics, and calls for the
establishment of a Canadian Corporate Social Responsibility Standard and the
appointment of an independent ombudsman to verify compliance.
    Development and Peace's 2007-2008 education and action campaign is
centring on this key demand for the appointment of a Mining Ombudsperson to
hear and investigate the concerns of those in the Global South affected by the
irresponsible activities of Canadian mining companies.
    "Canadians have already made it very clear that they want our government
to become an active participant in addressing these conflicts by putting in
place standards, and effective accountability and complaints mechanisms," said
Siobhan Rowan, DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE's Programs Coordinator, Education
department. "In short, we want the Harper government to take action."

    For 40 years, Development and Peace has worked directly with
organizations made up of or representing the poor and marginalized in the
Global South, and provided $500 million to 15,000 projects in Africa, Asia and
Latin America. We are presently active with 200 partners in 28 countries in
Africa, Asia, and in Latin America. In Canada, we are a democratic movement
for international solidarity - educating the public about the root causes of
poverty and mobilizing social action for change - with 13,000 members from
coast to coast. Development and Peace is the official international
development organization of the Catholic Church in Canada.




For further information:

For further information: Wanda Potrykus, (514) 257-8710, Ext 365,
wanda.potrykus@devp.org; Philippe Doucet, (514) 257-8710, Ext. 400, 
philippe.doucet@devp.org


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