Inter Pares has written extensively over the years about negative experiences of our counterparts around the world with mining and oil and gas companies – environmental damage, human rights abuses, poor labour practices. Especially in mining, Canadian corporations are major actors around the world.
Canada has a chance to become a world leader in corporate responsibility by passing a Private Member’s Bill (Bill C-300) that would create meaningful measures to encourage Canadian mining, oil and gas companies operating overseas to behave responsibly. The Bill is currently being reviewed by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. Members of Parliament need to hear from the public now to ensure that the Bill is passed by the Committee and sent back to the House of Commons
Bill C-300 is a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Liberal MP John McKay on February 9, 2009. Bill C-300 implements a number of key recommendations from the March 2007 Final Report of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Roundtables. The recommendations reflected the consensus of a multi-stakeholder advisory group that had representatives from the mining, oil and gas industries as well as civil society groups, including MiningWatch Canada, a Canadian organization of which Inter Pares is a founding member.
Your letters and emails in support of Bill C-300 are urgently needed to ensure that Canadian mining companies live up to international human rights and labour standards and environmental best practices when they operate overseas, and that government financial and political support are not provided to companies that abuse human rights and the environment.
We are asking you to write an email – right now – to your MP to let him/her know that you support this proposed legislation and want them to vote in favour of it. We are providing a sample letter below that you can use – or better yet, read the background material and write your own message.
Asking for a meeting with your MP in the riding office in your community is an excellent way to make your voice heard, and has an even greater impact than a letter or email.
Dear (name of MP),
Re: Support for Bill C-300 on Corporate Accountability
I am writing to let you know that I strongly support Bill C-300, an Act respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries.
I am very concerned by regular reports that Canadian mining, oil and gas companies are involved in human rights and labour violations, and environmental degradation around the world, and by the fact that these companies often receive financial and political support from the Canadian Government. If we are supporting them, we have an obligation to ensure they behave responsibly. Many countries in which our extractive companies operate do not have strong legal or regulatory systems to hold them to account for human rights and environmental abuse.
The most important concern expressed about the Bill is that Canadian companies may no longer be competitive if held to standards. In mining countries, governments are becoming more aware of the huge liabilities that can come with irresponsible mining operations. Companies that have the backing of their government, demonstrated by their compliance with a law like C-300, will be viewed as good corporate citizens and have a competitive advantage.
I understand that some companies may threaten to leave Canada if C-300 is passed. But similar predictions happened with US legislation, and were not borne out. Being registered with a Canadian stock exchange results in very lucrative tax and other incentives to mining companies, which will not change if C-300 is passed. If companies are already complying with standards, C-300 it won’t affect them. The government has claimed that it will be overwhelmed with frivolous complaints, but this too is unfounded, since the bill has a simple and agile mechanism to deal with such complaints.
There is an urgent need for a stronger regulatory framework to hold Canadian mining, oil and gas companies accountable in Canada for human rights, labour, and environmental violations overseas. Bill C-300 is a small first step in this direction. It has garnered support from groups across the country and internationally, and it has my support as well.
I urge you to support Bill C-300. Please let me know how you will vote.
(find your MP from the links in the right columns)
Humanists for Social Justice and Environmental Action supports Human Rights, Social and Economic Justice, Environmental Activism and Planetary Ethics in North America & Globally, with particular reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other Human Rights UN treaties and conventions listed above.