Mining oversight bill defeated by government, despite widespread public support

KAIROS Canada is disappointed that the Extractive Sector Ombudsman bill, Bill C-584, did not pass second reading in the House of Commons on October 1. More than 90,000 Canadians voiced their support for such an Ombudsman through the Open for Justice campaign, which was launched by KAIROS and our advocacy partners in the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA). The campaign calls for the creation of an Extractive Sector Ombudsman to oversee the international activities of Canadian mining, oil and gas companies; and legislated access to Canadian courts for those who believe they have been harmed by such operations.

NDP leader Tom Mulcair, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau and Green Party leader Elizabeth May stood together in supporting an Ombudsman for the extractive sector, understanding that such an office will not hinder but rather enhance Canada’s efforts to promote responsible mining. All opposition parties rallied behind Bill C-584 but no Conservative MPs voted for it, resulting in a vote of 127 in favour and 150 against.

In spite of this setback, KAIROS is continuing its work in the Open for Justice campaign. We look forward to working with Parliamentarians of all politicial stripes to build even greater public support for an Ombudsman and to remove legal barriers for those who need access to justice in Canada.

To date, the Canadian government has failed to demonstrate real leadership on corporate social responsibility (CSR). In particular, the government has failed to fix the CSR Counsellor’s Office, whose widely criticized mandate was established in 2010 to promote CSR and receive complaints regarding Canada’s international extractive sector. Last year the government conducted consultations on how to improve its CSR Strategy but still has not announced any changes. The first CSR Counsellor, Dr. Marketa Evans, resigned unexpectedly last October and the position remains vacant to this day.

Filed in: Corporate Accountability, Ecological Justice

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