Public Values

Public should not subsidize unethical mining – C-300

McKay's Responsible Mining Bill could exert global influence.

MP John McKay with corporate social responsibility investment expert Bennett Freeman.by Ish Theilheimer

OTTAWA, October 19, 2010, Straight goods News, with YouTube video: The Canadian public guarantees millions of dollars of investment in Canadian companies operating abroad, which has helped Canadian companies dominate mining globally. According to government research, over 75 percent of the world's exploration and mining companies were headquartered in Canada in 2008. These 1,293 companies had an interest in some 7,809 properties in Canada and in more than 100 countries around the world.

Despite public investment, there are no guarantees these companies will operate ethically. According to recent testimony at the Foreign Affairs Committee, some Canadian mining companies have been implicated in serious human rights and environmental abuses.

Witness after witness to that committee recounted serious allegations of abuse by Canadian mining companies, including accounts of rape, assassination of activists, intimidation and bribery of public officials, and negligent disregard of environmental impacts. One witness even alleged that a Canadian company had provided funding and hardware to the Sudanese government which was used to support its campaign of genocide.

The Canadian public guarantees millions of dollars of investment in Canadian companies operating abroad, which has helped Canadian companies dominate mining globally. According to government research, over 75 percent of the world's exploration and mining companies were headquartered in Canada in 2008. These 1,293 companies had an interest in some 7,809 properties in Canada and in more than 100 countries around the world.

Despite public investment, there are no guarantees these companies will operate ethically. According to recent testimony at the Foreign Affairs Committee, some Canadian mining companies have been implicated in serious human rights and environmental abuses.

Witness after witness to that committee recounted serious allegations of abuse by Canadian mining companies, including accounts of rape, assassination of activists, intimidation and bribery of public officials, and negligent disregard of environmental impacts. One witness even alleged that a Canadian company had provided funding and hardware to the Sudanese government which was used to support its campaign of genocide.

Liberal MP John McKay (Scarborough-Guildwood) is trying to put an end to federal subsidies for human rights abuse with Bill C-300, the Responsible Mining Bill, a private member's bill that will face a Parliamentary vote next week. The legislation, he says, "would send a signal to the world that Canada is serious about regaining our floundering reputation as champions of human rights. It would also send a signal to irresponsible mining companies that their behaviour is negatively impacting our country and that it will no longer be tolerated."

McKay has been working with allies in the social investment, human rights and labour movements to build support for his bill, which has the support of the NDP and Bloc Québécois. Not all his own caucus members have endorsed it, though, nor has his leader Michael Ignatieff.

"Like a lot of other things around here, the Liberal Party by default or otherwise gets to decide. It's by no means clear that enough members of the Caucus are persuaded," he said at a reception on Parliament Hill. "It's pretty clear that my own view is historically that the Liberal Party has stood for human rights."

This video features excerpts from McKay''s reception, including McKay himself and leading social investment expert Bennett Freeman, of Calvert Investment; Romina Picolotti, Former Environment Minister for Argentina and President of Center for Human Rights and Environment; Richard Janda, Professor of Law, McGill University; Shaun Fryday, President of Montreal Presbytery: [With apologies for the low quality of this hand-held video]

Links and sources
  Text of Bill C-300

Posted: October 21, 2010

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