OTTAWA, Feb. 28, 2014 /CNW/ - Canadian civil society groups today
released six key questions to assess the Government of Canada's
five-year review of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy,
which is set for release shortly.
The five-year review has been seen as an opportunity for Canada to
reboot the widely criticized CSR strategy launched in 2009 as Building the Canadian Advantage. The Review will test the degree to which the Government of Canada
acknowledges that Building the Canadian Advantage has failed to ensure that all Canadian extractive companies adhere to
internationally recognized human rights and environmental standards no
matter where they operate. The Review will demonstrate whether the
Government of Canada will deepen its commitment to promoting Canadian
corporate and commercial interests with CSR approaches that appear to
promote good corporate practice and respect for human rights, but that
do not actually provide effective tools and mechanisms for workers and
communities to hold companies to account when they are involved in
Six questions to ask when the Review is made public:
Access to Canadian Courts.
Does the Review acknowledge the ineffectiveness of the Office of the CRS
Counsellor for the Extractive Sector, where companies repeatedly walked
away from the process?
Does the Review recommend the creation of an independent ombudsman with
powers that go beyond ineffective voluntary mediation, including
the power to undertake independent investigations, regardless of a
company's willingness to participate, and
a mandate to issue recommendations to both companies and the Government
Free, Prior and Informed Consent.
Does the Review recognize that the government has a responsibility to
send a clear message to Canadian extractive companies they can be held
to account if they disregard internationally recognized human rights
and environmental standards?
Does the Review indicate the government will clarify the legitimate role
of Canadian courts to hear civil suits against Canadian companies
brought by groups who allege they have been harmed by the negligence of
Canadian companies? Clear access to Canadian courts for non-citizens
will mean that Canadian companies with inadequate operational policies
for human rights and the environment can be held to account for harm
Transparency, Taxation and Secrecy Jurisdictions.
Does the Review move the Government of Canada toward full recognition of
the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent for Indigenous
peoples as a central feature of a revamped strategy?
Building on the Government of Canada's commitment to transparency and
mandatory reporting of payments by corporations to governments, does
the Review address the fundamental importance of taxes to host
governments in creating shared benefits of resource development by
eliminating the use of secrecy jurisdictions (so called 'tax havens')
to dodge taxes by Canadian companies?
Rewarding good behaviour.
Does the Review comment on the failed Center for Excellence in CSR, and
consider mechanisms for full and open engagement and consultation on
business and human rights by government, civil society, and extractive
Does the Review include mechanisms to ensure that Canadian government
departments avoid complicity in environmental and human rights abuses
by instituting robust and transparent mechanisms that condition
Canadian government support received by extractive companies on respect
for human rights and environmental sustainability?
About the CNCA
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.
CNCA's submission to the Government of Canada CSR Strategy Review can be
found at: http://cnca-rcrce.ca/cnca-submission-to-the-goc-csr-strategy-review/
The CNCA launched a nation-wide campaign on October 22, 2013, the Open
for justice campaign, calling on Members of Parliament, and all
Canadians, to take action to ensure that victims of Canadian corporate
abuse abroad can access justice in Canada. This call to action
addresses two key barriers to justice: weak out-of-court mechanisms,
and obstacles to suing in Canadian courts. For more information see: http://cnca-rcrce.ca/category/action/
SOURCE: Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability
For further information:
(CNCA Steering Committee member)
(416) 859-9953 (Mobile)
(CNCA Steering Committee member)
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives