Monday, March 31, 2008

NDP: Canada must stop mining abuses

This is a press release from the federal NDP.

OTTAWA – A full year after a panel of industry, NGO and other experts released recommendations to the federal government on reigning in rogue Canadian mining companies operating in the developing world, Harper’s Conservative government remain silent.

“Harper appears to have sold out to the worst minority of corporate mining offenders,” said NDP International Development Critic, Alexa McDonough (Halifax). “When the report was released in March last year, Deepak Obhrai said we could expect the government’s response within two weeks. At the G8 meetings last June, the PM announced, ‘implementation of the recommendations from this process will place Canada among the most active G8 countries in advancing… corporate social responsibility.’ What happened?”

The advisory panel’s final report on Corporate Social Responsibility presented a rare consensus achieved among industry leaders and development NGOs, following national roundtables held across Canada. The group recommended adopting a Canadian standard of corporate social responsibility, creating an independent ombudsperson to investigate claims of Canadian corporate wrongdoing in developing countries, and mechanisms to withhold federal government support for the worst corporate offenders.

“Since feigning support for the panel’s recommendations, Harper and key cabinet Ministers have gone out of their way to visit Canadian mining companies in Chile, Tanzania, and Honduras,” added McDonough, who visited with local communities in Honduras fighting a Canadian mining company last fall. “While Harper hobnobs with big corporations, local communities and developing country governments are paying a terrible price. These Canadian companies are befouling their environments, jeopardizing community health, displacing communities, and thumbing their noses at host government regulations.”

“Harper’s government can do a favor for responsible companies in the industry by holding these corporate worst offenders to account,” concluded McDonough. “Instead, he’s giving them handshakes and handouts.”

Sixty percent of mining companies worldwide are Canadian, and according to a 2006 UN report, most of the human rights

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