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26 Feb 2021

Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability

Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability says Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise remains powerless to uphold human rights

"News release: Government of Canada caves to industry pressure, Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise remains powerless to uphold human rights," 26 February 2021

The Government of Canada has caved to industry demands and is ignoring and concealing expert legal advice it commissioned on how to give the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) the powers it needs to do its job. The government has had this legal advice – the McIsaac Report – for over a year and a half and has failed to act on the report’s findings or even make the report public. The report was leaked yesterday. 

... [B]y not acting on the review’s findings, the government is reneging on its commitments to provide CORE with the powers to independently investigate human rights abuses linked to Canadian companies operating overseas. As the CORE prepares to open its doors to receive complaints in early 2021, the office of the Minister of Small Business, Export Development and International Trade has confirmed that it will not give the CORE the investigatory powers it promised when it announced the creation of the office three years ago.

... The leaked McIsaac Report confirms that the federal government has the legal tools to immediately give the CORE the powers it needs to do its job through the Inquiries Act or stand-alone legislation. Without powers to compel documents and testimony, the expert report states that the CORE’s “effectiveness may be compromised” because it “will be dependent on the cooperation of the complainant and the entity being investigated.”