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Canada: Human rights groups concerned about powers for long-delayed Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise

"Human rights groups concerned about powers for long-delayed mining, textile ombudsman," 21 Jan 2019. Subscription only.

The government is getting ready to finally appoint its ombudsperson for responsible enterprise, a year after it announced a plan to do so, but some human rights advocates close to the file are concerned that it is under pressure to go back on its promise to give the new watchdog powers to compel documents and testimony... “We have not been given clear assurances that these will indeed be endowed upon the ombudsperson,” said Catherine Coumans, a research coordinator for Mining Watch Canada... The government committed, when it announced a year ago... to give the ombudsperson powers to compel documents and testimony if he or she launches a formal investigation of a Canadian company.

... The Mining Association of Canada has made clear to the government that it does not approve of giving the new ombudsperson the powers to compel documents and testimony. MAC president and CEO Pierre Gratton hold The Hill Times that doing so would set the ombudsperson up to be “adversarial” with industry, a role better suited to the court system... Mr. Carr told the House of Commons on Dec. 11 that he would be announcing the appointment “very soon.” The interview process for applicants to the job posting has been completed, said... John Ruggie... The ombudsperson’s office, as announced, will attempt to supervise the overseas work of companies in Canada’s textiles, oil and gas, and mining sectors, expanding to cover even more industries after its first year.

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