Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Greens: The Conservative Government Doesn’t Take Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Seriously

This is a press release from the Greens on the Conservative Government's announcement on corporate accountability:
OTTAWA--Canada is losing ground in the international community as a country that had a reputation as a leader in protecting human rights. This is evident with the release of Building the Canadian Advantage: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for the Canadian International Extractive Sector, released by Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

“Canada doesn’t take Indigenous peoples’ rights seriously and has demonstrated no respect for their reliance on their traditional lands. Canada would not sign the United Nations International Declaration on Indigenous Peoples' Rights and now Canada won’t push companies doing business abroad to ensure they don’t run roughshod over people and their environments,” said Lorraine Rekmans, Aboriginal Affairs Critic, Green Party of Canada.

Several groups, including the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) have charged that Canada has taken a step backwards with its position on global corporate social responsibility in the resource sector, saying it “is a strategy that falls far short of upholding Canada's international commitments on human rights.”

“The Green Party of Canada joins these groups in a call to the Canadian government to reconsider its commitment to corporate social responsibility and introduce measures that genuinely address the serious human rights and environmental abuses associated with Canadian extractive industry companies,” said Green Party Leader, Elizabeth May.

“From their testimony we have learned that the abuse of Indigenous Peoples' rights to lands, territories and resources at the hands of Canadian extractive companies is ongoing. Canada has to ensure that extractive sector interests are not sustained at the expense of the environment and of Indigenous Peoples,” said Rekmans.

The Green Party wants the Canadian government to guarantee that Canadian based companies will uphold standards like the International Finance Corporation's Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability.

Last year, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) made the following declaration: "The Committee notes with concern the reports of adverse effects of economic activities connected with the exploitation of natural resources in countries outside Canada by transnational corporations registered in Canada on the right to land, health, living environment and the way of life of indigenous peoples living in these regions." CERD concluded by recommending that Canada "explore ways to hold transnational corporations registered in Canada accountable."

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