Canada: NGO proposes new model law to establish human rights ombudsman for extractive industries

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Author: Hélène Buzzetti, Le devoir (Canada)

« Une gardienne de l’éthique pour les entreprises canadiennes à l’étranger », 9 avril 2019 

Quinze mois après l’avoir promis, le gouvernement canadien a procédé à la nomination d’une ombudsman pour veiller au comportement éthique des entreprises canadiennes actives à l’étranger. Mais les groupes qui réclament un tel surveillant depuis des années sont déçus qu’Ottawa n’ait toujours pas décidé des pouvoirs qui lui seront conférés.

Sheri Meyerhoffer sera la première personne à occuper le nouveau poste d’Ombudsman canadien indépendant pour la responsabilité sociale des entreprises. Avocate spécialisée dans la gouvernance mondiale, Mme Meyerhoffer a fait partie pendant 10 ans d’un groupe de juristes ayant aidé le Népal à élaborer sa Constitution. Elle a été auparavant lobbyiste pour l’Association canadienne des producteurs de pétrole.

Le Canada avait depuis 2009 un conseiller en responsabilité sociale des entreprises de l’industrie extractive. Il occupait la fonction de médiateur entre l’entreprise canadienne et les civils touchés par un projet minier alléguant une violation de droits de la personne. Le tout restait toutefois volontaire. Le nouvel ombudsman pourra entreprendre les enquêtes de son choix et, en théorie, forcer les entreprises récalcitrantes à y collaborer.

Le tout demeure théorique, car les pouvoirs conférés à Mme Meyerhoffer ne sont toujours pas connus. Le ministre du Commerce international, Jim Carr, a commandé un avis juridique externe sur la question, qui doit lui être remis début juin…

…L’industrie aimerait que le mécanisme demeure volontaire.

Sheri Meyerhoffer n’a pas voulu se prononcer sur les pouvoirs qu’elle réclamera. Elle n’a pas voulu dire si elle demanderait le pouvoir d’imposer des sanctions financières aux sociétés fautives.

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Article
9 November 2016

Liberals ‘seriously’ considering mining ombudsperson, says federal corporate social responsibility adviser

Author: Peter Mazereeuw

The Liberal government is “seriously reviewing” the creation of an ombudsperson to investigate Canadian companies implicated in wrongdoing abroad, says Canada’s corporate social responsibility counsellor for the extractive sector, Jeffrey Davidson...The NDP and social justice organizations, including the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability, have stepped up pressure recently on the government to establish an ombudsperson to investigate human rights violations connected to Canadian-owned mines in developing countries...The government could be ready to respond soon, said Mr. Davidson, who isn’t involved in the government’s decision-making process, but has been consulted on the matter...The office of Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland...who handles the CSR file, did not confirm or deny that the government was considering creating an ombudsperson...A coalition of labour, social justice, and human rights organizations that calls itself the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability released a mock legislative framework Nov. 2 proposing the creation of an ombudsperson to investigate human rights violations tied to Canada’s extractive industries...

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Article
2 November 2016

Enough talk, Canada needs extractive industries ombudsperson

Author: Jean Symes, The Hill Times (Canada)

...[M]ore than a half a million Canadians have called for a mandatory, independent, and impartial extractive-sector ombudsperson, with the power to investigate complaints and report publicly.  In response, the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability has just released proposed legislation that would accomplish just that.  The Global Leadership in Business and Human Rights Act would ensure that complaints are seriously addressed, and that an appropriate remedy for violations is provided, along with policy recommendations to government and companies to prevent their recurrence.  During the last election campaign, all of the opposition parties at the time...promised to establish an independent ombudsperson for the extractive industries. ..[T]he current government explicitly committed to uphold human rights in Canada...However, so far its public statements on Canada’s extractive sector mimic the previous governments’ preference to rely solely on existing voluntary mechanisms.  These mechanisms have...proven ineffective...Inter Pares and the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability urge the government and Parliament to take leadership in response to long-standing calls in Canada and internationally to address this ongoing human rights tragedy...

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Article
2 November 2016

Human rights groups call for federal mining ombudsman

Author: James Munson, iPolitics (Canada)

A coalition of human rights groups is calling on the Trudeau government to...appoint an ombudsman to deal with conflicts between local communities and Canadian resource companies overseas.  The proposed ombudsman’s office would have the power to freely investigate claims of violations against international human rights norms involving Canadian firms and their subsidiaries...The office would be able to ask a judge to compel firms to produce documents and order individuals to participate in an investigation, according to the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability, one of several groups that unveiled the proposed law Wednesday in a news conference...“One of the reasons why it’s so key is that existing mechanisms in Canada are not adequate at all to deal with the scope and scale of this problem,” said Emily Dyer, the network’s coordinator.  At the moment, there is a federal corporate social responsibility counsellor for the extractive sector and a national contact point for the OECD’s guidelines for multinational enterprises.  Both have been criticized as weak...Federal governments have not provided the groups with a specific timeline on implementing the legislation...

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Article
2 November 2016

New law would create Human Rights Ombudsperson to investigate violations associated with Canadian mining, oil and gas operations overseas

Author: Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (Canada)

Ottawa, Nov 2, 2016 – The Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability released today detailed model legislation, providing the Canadian government with a blueprint for how to create an effective human rights ombudsperson in the extractive sector.  Human rights abuses at Canadian mining and oil and gas sites around the world are widespread and well documented...A new model law...will help the Canadian government fulfill its promise to remedy human rights abuses and prevent future harm, as well as help create a more predictable and stable operating environment where the responsible business practices of Canadian companies are recognized and rewarded...There are currently two mechanisms in Canada that can receive complaints of local communities relating to overseas operations of Canadian extractive companies...However, these mechanisms lack investigatory powers and independence...Most Canadian political parties...have committed to create an independent human rights ombudsperson for the extractive sector.  Today’s model legislation provides the roadmap to do so swiftly and effectively...“A Canadian company facing credible allegations of overseas human rights abuses should be subject to investigation by an independent and impartial mechanism,” said Emily Dwyer...

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