Monday, July 16, 2007

Following Stephen Harper in Latin America

There are are a variety of human rights concerns that Stephen Harper ought to raise during his visit to Latin America, not the least of which are those related to the activities of Barrick Gold in Chile. The Toronto Star reports that
The most controversial stop on the trip could come Wednesday in Santiago, Chile. There, Harper will visit the offices of Barrick Gold, whose proposed Pascua Lama gold and silver mine in the Andes on the Chile-Argentine border has become a rallying point for critics of multinational mining operations.

Reports that the company's explorations have eroded the size of three glaciers by more than half have some Chilean lawmakers calling for a halt to planned operations and a probe into the environmental effects of Barrick's activities.
Prior to the trip, a BHR activist stated clearly what her expectations are:
Karen Keenan, of the Halifax Initiative, which keeps an eye on Canadian investment in developing countries, said corporate responsibility standards should guide behaviour in areas of environmental performance, human rights, public reporting and transparency. She said an oversight body should be created to conduct independent investigations and resolve conflicts.
Further to this, here is a release from the New Democratic Party on the issue. Here's an excerpt:
On the eve of the Prime Minister’s visit to Colombia and Chile, the NDP is demanding that Stephen Harper end his government’s stonewalling on proposed Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) legislation to fight human rights and environmental abuses by Canadian extractive companies doing business in South America.

“If Harper is serious about a constructive role for Canada in this part of the world, let him prove it to citizens here in Canada and communities across Central and South America through concrete actions,” said NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Alexa McDonough. “He should start by implementing new and robust standards of Corporate Social Responsibility for Canadian companies operating in the developing world.”
We will follow events as they unfold.

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