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15 Jul 2019

Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability

Civil society members of Canadian govt. advisory body on responsible business conduct resign due to delay in granting Ombudsperson investigatory powers

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"Government of Canada turns back on communities harmed by Canadian mining overseas, loses trust of Canadian civil society," 11 July 2019

Today all fourteen civil society and labour union representatives of the government’s Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Body on Responsible Business Conduct Abroad (Advisory Body) tendered their resignations. The unanimous decision to resign is due the erosion of civil society and labour unions’ trust and confidence in the government’s commitment to international corporate accountability. 

In January 2018, the government publicly announced the creation of a Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) and committed to entrusting the office with the necessary tools to conduct credible independent investigations, including the power to compel documents and summon witnesses... The government’s decision to backtrack on its promise in April 2019, and instead appoint a special advisor to the Minister of International Trade Diversification without needed investigatory powers, has amounted to a betrayal of civil society and labour unions’ trust, erosion of our confidence and concerns that the government has not acted in good faith during consultations... Organizations have continued to wait for further developments over the past three months, since the April 8, 2019 announcement of an independent legal review on the CORE’s investigatory powers. Minister Carr indicated on that day that the review would be completed within 4 to 5 weeks... Three months later, the study has not been made public, the CORE remains without meaningful powers to serve impacted communities and workers... Civil society and labour members of the Advisory Body note that the only way that the government can restore trust is by replacing the CORE’s mandate by an order pursuant to the Inquiries Act, as a bridge towards legislation in the next government.