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MP John McKay tells mining conference: Bill C-300 will see a 'legislative resurrection'

Liberal MP John McKay tells mining conference: Bill C-300 will see a 'legislative resurrection' |
Liberal MP John McKay was one of nine speakers at Friday's conference, the Political Economy of Mining and Resource Extraction, at Carleton University. McKay, who is the MP for Scarborough-Guildwood, spoke to a jam-packed room of close to 100 people. He talked broadly about the bill, called the Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil or Gas in Developing Countries Act, which would have held Canadian mining companies accountable for human rights abuses and environmental destruction while operating abroad. He expressed his surprise at the reactions to his bill. He received reactions from countries around the world including Bulgaria and the Philippines. Al-Jazeera and the Globe and Mail approached him. Over 80 NGOs wrote a letter in support of the bill. McKay revealed that "some progressive companies dipped their toes in it."
It's not uncommon for MPs to be absent for votes on private members' bills. However, for Bill C-300, all the Conservatives showed up to vote against it. Twenty-four MPs were absent from the vote and the bill was defeated by a mere six votes. McKay then spoke about a "legislative resurrection," or re-introducing the bill after more research and working with industry. The audience was heartened to hear that the bill's defeat was not the death of the bill.

The preceding presenter was Jamie Kneen from Mining Watch. He gave an excellent overview of Canadian corporations operating in the global south; a perfect set up for why a bill such as Bill C-300 is sorely needed. He showed striking images of environmental destruction, community protests and police repression. His case studies included the Highland Valley copper mine (British Colombia), the Iduapriem gold mine (Ghana), the Barrick Gold North Mara mine (Tanzania), Bulyanhulu gold mine (Tanzania), Junin (Ecuador), Tambogrande (Peru) and finally Cerro de San Pedro (Mexico).

Todd Gordon from York University, gave a talk entitled "Canadian policy and the corporate pursuit of profit." He spoke about the harm caused by Canadian mining companies and their relationship to the third world as systemic to Canadian capitalism. The Canadian government, including local embassies, is supportive of Canadian mining companies abroad. Gordon explained how documents obtained under Access to Information requests showed this relationship.

David Welch, who is a professor at the University of Ottawa, gave an overview of the Algonquin's struggle against uranium mining in North Frontenac. Canada is the largest exporter of uranium in the world. 80% of uranium that is mined in Canada is exported with a large majority going to the U.S.

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