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7 May 2019

Catherine Coumans, MiningWatch Canada

Commentary: Canada still needs an Ombudsperson to investigate mining cases - not an advisor or another CSR Counsellor

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"Canada Still Needs an Ombudsperson to Investigate Mining Cases – Not an Advisor to the Minister of International Trade or another CSR Counsellor," 4 May 2019

The Government of Canada has fundamentally broken its electoral promise of 2015 and its commitment of January 17, 2018 to create an Ombudsperson with: independence from both government and industry; strong investigatory powers to compel documents and witnesses, when necessary, in the course of investigating complaints brought against Canadian mining companies for human rights abuses perpetrated overseas; and the ability to make determinations of fact about whether a Canadian company had caused or contributed to human rights harm. Fifteen months after the commitment to create a strong ombudsperson was made in 2018, the government has created an advisory position to the Minister with a deeply flawed and inadequate mandate. 

As the Government of Canada has not managed to ensure an Ombudsperson with the powers to compel documents and witnesses in the 15 months since announcing the creation of an Ombudsperson MiningWatch is highly sceptical of the government’s commitment to keep this promise... On April 29, 2019, Chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, Surya Deva, is reported to have said: "Businesses—not just in Canada, all over the world—they do not share documents easily […] “I would be very surprised if Canadian companies are going to deviate from this assumption. And that’s why you need this power, otherwise you are going to be like the [National Contact Point], and what is the point of having another NCP?”