"Further mandatory measures needed for real accountability."
OTTAWA, June 14, 2013 /CNW/ - Canadian civil society organizations that
have worked together for the adoption of mandatory corporate
accountability measures for almost a decade, join together to welcome
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's announcement in London that Canada will
be establishing new mandatory reporting standards for Canadian
This is the first time the Prime Minister has voiced support for
mandatory reporting in Canada on the international operations of
Canadian mining, oil and gas companies. Amnesty International, Halifax
Initiative, Inter Pares, KAIROS Canada, MiningWatch Canada and the
United Steelworkers are encouraged by this step forward.
"This is welcome news," said Fiona Koza, Business and Human Rights
Campaigner with Amnesty International. "For years we have been urging
the Government of Canada to move beyond mere voluntary measures."
These organizations are encouraged by the Prime Minister's commitment to
consult with Indigenous peoples' organizations and civil society in the
development of these mandatory reporting requirements. Consultations
with Indigenous peoples' organizations and civil society in the Global
South will also be fundamental to ensuring that the mandatory reporting
regime fulfills its intended aims.
Yesterday's announcement will be followed by the release later this week
of a draft framework for mandatory reporting of payments to governments
for Canadian extractive companies, a product of months of dialogue
between Canadian civil society and industry representatives.
Transparency is an important tool, but is not a complete response to the
lack of accountability regarding the international operations of
Canadian extractive companies.
"This is a good first step," said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers
National Director for Canada. "But real accountability means companies
must be held to account for labour practices, ecological impacts and
respect for human rights. Canada needs a comprehensive corporate
accountability framework that includes the standard of free, prior and
informed consent to accompany these new reporting requirements."
In addition to these new disclosure rules, leaders at the G8 Summit will
be proposing tougher action on tax havens. Extractive companies are
among the biggest users of tax havens, which can be used to shift
profits and avoid taxation.
"On its own, mandatory reporting of corporate payments just opens the
door to transparency," said Jean Symes, of Inter Pares. "To prevent
less developed countries from having their resource wealth siphoned
away, Canada needs to support the G8 move to make banks in tax havens
publish the names of the real owners of their secret accounts."
The Resource Revenue Transparency Working Group (comprised of Publish
What You Pay Canada, the Revenue Watch Institute, the Mining
Association of Canada and the Prospectors and Developers Association of
Canada) was formed in September 2012. The group aims to develop a
framework for the disclosure of payments to governments for Canadian
oil and mining companies operating domestically and internationally.
Once complete, the working group will make policy recommendations to
federal government policymakers and/or provincial security regulators
for the Canadian adoption of mandatory disclosure requirements based on
the framework. A draft framework will be released to the public later
this week. These efforts were no doubt a crucial factor leading to the
Prime Minister's announcement in London.
Transparency relating to payments made to all levels of governments by
the extractive sector is an important measure to ensure accountability.
However, it falls far short of a complete response to the urgent need
for mandatory corporate accountability measures for the international
operations of Canadian extractive companies. Transparency is only one
part of an array of wider tools that are required to ensure that
resources are developed in a responsible manner: one that protects the
environment, human rights and labour standards, provide benefits to
local communities and workers, promotes broader economic and social
development, and is consistent with local development plans and needs,
including the respect of the principle of free, prior and informed
SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information:
Jamie Kneen, MiningWatch Canada, Jamie@miningwatch.ca; office (613) 569-3439, cell (613) 761-2273
Fiona Koza, Amnesty International, Business and Human Rights Campaigner, email@example.com; cell (778) 239-5547