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1 Mär 2021

Kelsey Rolfe, CIM Magazine

Long-delayed CORE office to take complaints in early 2021

The federal office aimed at addressing potential human rights abuses by mining, oil and gas and garment sector companies operating abroad is expected to start taking complaints in the first quarter after multiple delays, but some non-governmental organizations and human rights experts are already calling the role a disappointment... In July 2019, all 14 civil and labour union representatives on the panel advising Ottawa on how the CORE should work resigned in protest, citing an erosion of trust in the federal government’s willingness to imbue the office with commissioner-like powers to compel documents and witness testimony.

Responding to concerns about the role’s effectiveness, ombudsperson Sheri Meyerhoffer told CIM Magazine that the CORE was committed to promoting human rights and “making a positive difference in the world,” and had “a range of tools at our disposal to help make that happen.” ... A report on the CORE’s “listening tour” with various stakeholders said civil society organizations, Indigenous experts in Canada and abroad and other groups were concerned that without that level of power, the office would not be able to effectively fulfil its mandate.

... Ben Chalmers, senior vice-president at the Mining Association of Canada, said the association has practical concerns about how powers to compel could be used in an international context. “Should the government go down this route, we might understand how those powers could be exercised on a Canadian mining head office in Canada, or on Canadian citizens working abroad, but these are complicated issues that often involve third parties, police forces [and] security forces, and the question becomes how does a Canadian official exercise jurisdiction in those countries to try to get the full understanding?”

... David Clarry, vice-president of corporate social responsibility at Hudbay... wrote in an email... “I will note Hudbay is party to a litigation in Canada stemming from accusations related to a project we owned in Guatemala between 2008 and 2011. Our situation is an example of more complex, serious and strongly contested allegations that should remain the purview of a court to decide."