Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak today to the issue of corporate social responsibility, particularly in the extractive industries.
I want to start by correcting the parliamentary secretary's comments. He suggested that this began with the advent of the Conservative government, but that is not the case.
Much of what we are talking about today is the landmark report from the parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, tabled in June 2005. It is a landmark report on mining in developing countries and corporate social responsibility.
I would be remiss if I did not, on behalf of all members of the House, thank non-governmental organizations, like KAIROS, which have really done a yeoman's job of ensuring that this issue has been kept in the forefront for several years. For quite a while, it seemed like the issue had disappeared, but we all know how important it is. NGOs, like KAIROS, have really done a great job of keeping our feet to the fire, as elected officials, to ensure this issue is in front of Canadians.
This is an extremely important issue. I want to talk for a moment on some basic concepts in terms of what corporate social responsibility is rather than pure rights.
Although major objective of extractive companies is to earn profits, they also have a responsibility to advance social goals, given the transboundary nature of their operations and the concomitant reduction of the welfare role, particularly in developing in countries. Some may put forth the argument that these are private companies and they really do not have a role to play whatsoever, but they do have that role to play.
We all know about the common concept of triple bottom line. This is not a theoretical issue; it is an issue that connects to the bottom line of the private sector, and I will get into that in a moment.
Corporate social responsibility implies compliance plus the active development and implementation of a mainstream business strategy, supported by technological and organizational innovation to prevent, and this is important, social impact while at the same time optimizing social benefits from the outset. Through responsible management, it also involves the mitigation, on an ongoing basis, of negative effects, if and when they occur.
Historically this was not the case. In fact, Milton Friedman, in his 1970 book The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits, made the argument that social performance was totally contained in marketplace performance. I would argue, with all due respect to Milton Friedman, that he is wrong.
Today we know that social responsibility in business is not entirely up to the marketplace, with the objective of ensuring the private sector extracts profits. Engaging in social responsibility is important not only for the people in the countries where the company is located, but also for its ability to do its best and provide its highest level of performance.
The approach to corporate social responsibility can be summarized in the following way. Operating a successful business is important with respect to the interests of employees, investors, suppliers and customers. It is important to make social investment in a local community in response to the perceived moral imperatives as well as ensuring a healthy workforce. I will give the House an example.
I have been to South Africa 13 times. I used to work there in years past. Extractive industries in South Africa found that their employees were rapidly dying due to tuberculosis, malaria and other infectious diseases. The underlying cause of this were viruses known as the HIV class.
Extractive industries, particularly those involved in diamond and gold manufacturing, could not accept this. The destruction of their workforces was having a profound negative impact on their bottom line. These industries became involved in the health care of their workforce by enabling them to get access to medications, particularly the antiretroviral medications that not only prevent a person going from HIV positive to developing AIDS, but also significantly diminish infecting other people.
Allow me a short aside. It is important because this discovery was actually made and championed by the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
Doctors Montaner and Kerr found that the highly active anti-retroviral therapy, that is, triple therapy, can actually drop the viral load so low for individuals that it prevents them from being able to infect another person. This is actually quite remarkable, because if we can drop somebody's viral load so low as to prevent him or her from being able to infect another person, it dramatically truncates the ability of the virus to infect new people. This is a huge challenge we have in terms of trying to arrest what is arguably the biggest challenge in global health.
The South African extractive industries got involved in that and were able to keep their workforce healthy. By keeping the workforce healthy, they were able to significantly improve their bottom line. That is the essence of the moral imperative. That is how it connects the moral imperative with the profit-making nature of the private sector.
It differs quite significantly from Milton Friedman, who believed that the private sector market could, by the very nature of driving toward the acquisition of profit, take care of these social needs as a downstream effect. We now know that is not the case at all.
We would like to see Canada championing a series of requirements that the private sector understands it has to adhere to when working abroad. If these companies do not, there will be consequences for that. I know that the private sector would like to have those guidelines, because currently these companies are working in the dark a little.
I believe we have to define for the private sector the guidelines we want it to adhere to in terms of mitigating the environmental and social impacts in all spheres, the biophysical, the economic and the social, and anticipating, preventing and dealing with these at the outset, not after the fact.
I want to look at the positive and negative effects of extractive industries for a moment. I am glad that the issue of Talisman was brought up, because I was in Sudan when Talisman was there. I went into the bush south of Bahr El Ghazal in Southern Sudan when the war was going on.
For all that people were harassing and being critical of Talisman for being part of the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company, the fact of the matter is that Talisman was the only group on the ground providing health care and educational opportunities for the Nuer and Dinka tribespeople who live in Southern Sudan.
As for removing Talisman, all those people who wanted Talisman to go actually deprived some very impoverished people in Southern Sudan of health care and educational benefits. In the process, Talisman was replaced with another company, which does not care whatsoever what happens to those people. Subsequent to that, Talisman has done what I think is a very good job under the auspices of Greg Manhas and his team to provide a very good model that other extractive industries may wish to look at in terms of corporate social responsibility.
The downstream effects have been very interesting, not only in terms of the extractive industries but also in terms of other large industrial endeavours in developing countries. We know that developing countries do not have the capacity on the ground and most of them are rife and riven with corruption. We have seen massive environmental damage, horrific health effects on people who live in certain areas, conflict, and something called the Dutch disease.
What is the Dutch disease? Developing countries have put all their eggs in one basket, an extractive industry, at the expense of maximizing innovation in other non-extractive industries. In the process, they have negatively affected their economy and the downstream effect. By focusing on one industry and not putting adequate resources into other industries to diversify their economies in years to come, they get the Dutch disease. These countries have been negatively affected.
Let us look at a couple of examples. What is happening in the delta region in Nigeria right now is horrific. Companies such as Shell and others are committing atrocious acts in collusion with the Nigerian government, I have to say, against the people who live in the delta.
In Ogoniland, which is part of the delta, we see gas flaring. Gas flaring is causing catastrophic effects on the health of the people who live there, from sky-high cancer levels to other illnesses. The spinoff benefits to the people are negligible at best. The people who are hired on the rigs are not local people. They are foreigners and very few in number. If locals are hired, it is for menial work.
There is no ability to build capacity in these developing countries. That is what these extractive industries should be doing. It is not for them to be aid agencies, we know that, but it will improve their bottom line if they are able to sensibly utilize some of their profits to invest in the social well-being of the people there.
They can invest in training and in capacity building, which is key. They can give the people jobs and an opportunity to acquire skills so they will be better able to contribute to their economy. They can give them water security, food security and health care. All of these things could be done by the private sector.
The Canadian government should work with the private sector to enable this. They could be very good and very willing partners. A partnership between a private sector company and the Canadian government through CIDA could be a very constructive partnership, in effect, by working with people on the ground, with domestic NGOs, in a recipient country to build capacity, to enable countries to have the water security, food security and health care they require and also the economic development these countries need to be able to improve.
However, some of this is heartbreaking to see. I will give the example of sub-Saharan Africa, which is the poorest area in the world.
Do members know that sub-Saharan Africa has 40% of the world's natural resources? Yet the poorest people in the world live there. Why is that? Because of lack of capacity and also because of conflict and corruption, what I call the three c's, which are the three biggest problems that affect that part of the world. The extractive industries have the ability to play a very important role here.
I will also talk for a minute about environmental impacts. I mentioned the devastating effects of oil exploration in Ogoniland in the delta in Nigeria, but we also can look at the Congo River basin in Amazonia.
In the Congo River basin, particularly in the eastern part of the Congo, there has been a genocide taking place for a number of years. More than 7 million people were killed in under five years in the eastern Congo. Did anyone hear about that? Did anyone care or do anything about that? No, they did not. Right now, every day, day in and day out, this means that the equivalent of four large passenger jets are exploding and killing more than a thousand people. That is the equivalent.
A thousand people are dying every day in the eastern Congo, but what do we hear? Nothing. Could we imagine what would happen if 1,000 people or even 100 people were dying every day in the west? There would be enormous attention paid to that.
What is also interesting is that in the eastern Congo there is a lot of extractive industry taking place for coltan, gold, diamonds and other minerals. The absence of any interest is allowing a festering wound to continue on the body politic of the world. The murder, maiming and mass rape of ultimately millions of civilians in eastern Congo is done in front of us but in such a way that no one is paying any attention.
These issues are not hidden. They are in front of us. The absence of any interest on the part of the west to address these problems is something that I frankly cannot begin to fathom, having seen this so many times myself.
In Amazonia, the same thing is happening with the destruction of the environment.
However, not all is for naught. There are things we can do. There are things that Canada could lead on. There is a willingness on the part of our private sector to work with the government to establish a set of guidelines to be adhered to.
As I said to the parliamentary secretary, the government should also rewrite the Special Economic Measures Act. SEMA is obsolete. We must have a way of imposing punitive actions against a private sector actor from Canada which is acting in ways that are egregious abroad, ways that we would never tolerate within our own country. I would encourage the Government of Canada to do that.
I would also say that the government needs to work with the private sector to enable that to happen. It needs a buy-in from the private sector to do that.
The government could also learn from companies such as Talisman, which has done a good job. I know that some of the other private sector groups in the world, such as Rio Tinto, BHP and placer mining, for example, have been doing some good work in trying to improve their ability to engage in CSR, but I have to say that they need to do a better job of letting the public and us know about that. Many would be willing to work with them.
I also found it very interesting when dealing with the private sector that while there is certainly some goodwill because companies understand the triple bottom line, they may not necessarily know how to achieve it. There is the ability for those of us in Canada who are involved in this area to offer ideas, solutions and ways of operationalizing this.
I would suggest that if anyone from the private sector is interested in engaging in this, what they could do is utilize the administrative structure that UNAIDS did. It is called the “Three Ones”. What is it? It is one framework, one operational mechanism, and one oversight mechanism. If companies do that, they are able to utilize their moneys in the most efficient and effective fashion possible.
I would also suggest dealing with what I would argue is one of the biggest challenges, as I mentioned early on, and that is the issue of capacity building. What international and large NGOs often do, which I think is really criminal, is that they hand a framework to developing countries.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars will be spent on producing this framework. These NGOs will give it to a developing country and say, “Here it is”. The people of the developing country will look at it and say, “That is nice, but how on earth can we hope to actually implement this if we do not have the capacity to implement?”
I will use a case as an example. President Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia is a remarkable woman. She is trying to dig her country out of years of being subjected to conflict as a result of the greed and avarice of a thug, former president Taylor of Liberia, who subjected his people to unspeakable horrors. He destroyed his country. It was all because of a desire to have diamonds.
What President Johnson-Sirleaf needs is capacity building. She needs western countries and the private sector to help in building up the capacity within her own country so that Liberians can have the administrative frameworks and the governance structures that are required.
They need the ability to have the proper checks and balances, the banking system, the legal system and the security apparatus so the people of the country can be secure and also so there is the ability to invest in the educational opportunities the Liberian people need.
What do we have? Nothing. The world just disappears. Extraction still takes place, but there is an inability to connect the extractive industries and their profits. That is not only for the private sector but, very importantly, for the countries who need to use those moneys to build up their own capacity.
The last issue is conflict. I want to go again to the issue of Zimbabwe, because it is very important. We know that Mr. Mugabe and the four members of his joint operations committee have destroyed their country. We know that they are burning civilians alive. We know that as Zimbabwe falls, so does the entire southern African region in many ways.
I would implore the Canadian government to work with SADEC and the African Union to say to the leadership in Zimbabwe that if it does not stop this violence, if it does not allow election monitors to go into the country, and if it does not have a free and open election at the end of this month, then that leadership will be prosecuted for crimes against humanity.
If the leadership does not comply, then we must tell its members that we are going to organize an invasion force, a multilateral peacemaking force, to go into Zimbabwe. It should not be difficult. We know that 80% of the country is living on less than a dollar a day and most are malnourished and starving. A very small number is brutalizing these people. It needs to be removed.
The British did it in Sierra Leone and ended a conflict there that claimed a quarter of a million lives. We need to do the same in Zimbabwe as far as I am concerned. If we do not, then our responsibility to protect will mean absolutely nothing.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise in the House to discuss this end of session motion concerning an extremely important debate. I would like to reread the motion to keep it at the forefront of our minds:
|| That the government provide its response in a reasonable time—
This is a reasonable motion. This report has been around for so long, the motion could well have said “immediately”. It continues:
||—to the advisory group report: National Roundtables on Corporate Social Responsibility and the Canadian Extractive Industry in Developing Countries.
Why did I say that the motion could have been even tougher? Because the report it refers to was tabled on March 29, 2007. I would like to clarify, for the benefit of members seated to my right, that this report followed up on another that was tabled on June 20, 2005, the result of work done by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The committee unanimously adopted the 14th report, entitled “Mining in Developing Countries - Corporate Social Responsibility”.
We were proud of what we accomplished. The report contained provisions that put constraints on companies. It called on the Government of Canada to adopt a series of specific measures to:
|| ensure that Canadian companies have the necessary knowledge, support and incentives to conduct their activities in a socially and environmentally responsible manner and in conformity with international human rights standards.
All I want to way about the report is that none of the unanimously adopted recommendations were implemented, except for the one urging the government to meet with companies and stakeholders in the sector. None of the other recommendations were acted upon by the Liberal government under Paul Martin—pardon me, Mr. Speaker, I forgot—
The Acting Speaker: The member should say, the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard
Yes, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for . And I know that I am not allowed to say that we do not often see him, so I will apologize for that right now.
Nevertheless, it is fortunate that the work carried out by the round tables, which initially had no follow up because the government had not entered into an agreement with the two other parties, in the end produced fantastic results. In fact, members of the consultative group, Canadian and Quebec NGOs and the experts were able to come to an agreement with a good part of the Canadian extractive industry. Everyone can be proud of the outcome. Some of the recommendations are found in a report to which the government is asked to respond in a reasonable period of time.
I will say once again that the report was tabled on March 29, 2007, and therefore, the government should respond as quickly as possible to this report which, I believe, is extremely important.
First, before discussing the report's main recommendations, I would like to outline the context for this issue. The social and environmental responsibilities of Canadian companies abroad, particularly Canadian extractive companies, has been a concern for some time, not only for my party and, I suppose, for the other parties, but also for all citizens. That is an extremely important factor.
Second, Canada is a world leader in the mining industry. Per capita, Canada has more mining companies working abroad than any other country. They are found—and we heard groups complain about this—in Africa, South America, and Asia, where Myanmar is one specific example.
These companies are corporations and, in most cases, are listed on Canadian stock exchanges. Finally and unfortunately—and this is the reason for the complaints and the call to action—these companies are associated with forced population displacements, significant environmental damage, support for repressive regimes, serious human rights violations and sometimes even assassinations. There are many examples.
One case I want to mention was very closely followed by Parliament, and that was the Talisman affair. Someone mentioned earlier that Talisman had atoned for its sins, if I may put it that way, and today recognizes its social responsibility in the west. But when we in this Parliament heard of Talisman in late 1999 and 2000, the company held shares, along with other countries, in southern Sudan. When Talisman went into Sudan and started working with these other entities, we became aware that by adhering to a contract with the Government of Sudan, these companies had caused a resurgence of the war between north and south, which had been going on for 45 years, since the country gained independence.
Why did war flare up again when this oil company was bought and revived? Simply because, until then, the two sides in the war were exhausted, both financially and otherwise. With royalties from companies, including Talisman, the Sudanese government armed itself better and resumed waging war on the south.
As a result, peace, which otherwise would have been reached sooner, was slower in coming. There was considerable pressure here. A UN report condemned the abuses perpetrated by the company and especially the fact that Talisman was colluding with the army. The report was raised in Parliament, and the minister at the time, Mr. Axworthy, whom I can name because he is no longer here, was questioned. He was very embarrassed by what the UN report said about Talisman, so he sent his own investigator, Mr. Harker, who came back saying the same things. As we understood it, Mr. Axworthy was required to do something. He resigned shortly thereafter.
The next Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Manley, was also questioned. I also questioned him in committee. Mr. Manley agreed and asked who would be better off if Talisman were forced to leave the country. That is an important question, because the Government of Canada was afraid at the time—and it may still be afraid—that if it tried to do something with one or more of the companies, they would leave.
Why do I say this? The committee proposed a framework for all Canadian businesses operating abroad because action needs to be taken for more than just a single business on just one occasion. Instead, what is needed is a code for all businesses, rules that can be used to monitor those businesses, rules that, if violated, could result in complaints and rules that will be strictly enforced. All businesses must know that they are being monitored—not just one business.
I must point out, if I may, that various kinds of businesses exist—and I worked in labour relations for a long time. Some will say that a specific business respects workers and the public, and that it does everything by the book. I do not dispute that; it is quite possible. However, given the increasing importance of shareholders these days, even that business could, at some point, be forced to change its activities. Other businesses do not conform to what is expected of them in terms of their corporate social and economic responsibilities and still others do whatever it takes to shirk them.
Under such circumstances, we should be quite pleased that the NGOs, the members of the advisory group—which included the government—that was created to look into the situation, and the experts were able to reach an agreement with what was called a large portion of the Canadian mining industry. On March 29, 2007, they urged the Government of Canada, to adopt a set of corporate social responsibility standards that Canadian extractive-sector companies operating abroad are expected to meet.
Some observers will say that this report is very restrained. And, since it is the result of a consensus, it may also appear to be effective because it also includes some coercive measures.
First, it asks that a clear social responsibility standard or code be established that Canadian mining companies would have to abide by abroad. I want to say from the outset that this request comes with financial incentives. The report also asks that companies file an annual report of their activities in order to be listed on the stock exchange. It recommends that an ombudsman be put in place to review complaints and ensure follow-up. The report recommends that offenders no longer be entitled to tax benefits, loan guarantees and other forms of government assistance.
Armed with the moral authority attached to these measures, Canada could then convince other countries to follow suit in mining and other industries. The committee also wanted Canada and its parliamentarians to propose these same measures in various international fora and parliamentary assemblies. For the first time, the Canadian extractive industry is stepping up to the plate. One might say we are on the eve of a major breakthrough. Let us not forget that there are a great many Canadian industries abroad.
It is extremely important that the government take this issue seriously. This affects Canada's reputation. It is serious. It affects people's ability to earn a living. How many Africans, South Americans and Asians are struggling right now with Canadian companies that are not demonstrating one bit of the social responsibility that is expected of them?
I mentioned population displacements. We have all heard members here give a number of examples of such displacements that occur quite simply because that is what the local government wants. I could also mention the collusion between these companies and the governments that profit from the wealth passing through, as the mining companies pay lucrative royalties in order to do as they like, completely undisturbed and often with the support of the army or the local police.
Although the motion indicates that this needs to be done in a reasonable time, the government must make its position known quickly. To me, a reasonable time means quickly. I hope the government will support what the experts and those who represent the public have agreed on.
I would be remiss if I did not mention Professor Bonnie Campbell, who played a major role in all this and the mining companies that—
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand in this House and add my support to our government's efforts to promote and encourage effective corporate social responsibility to Canada's extractive sector. I commend all members of all parties for the way they have commended Canada's extractive sector.
I recognize the complexity of the task at hand and I fully support the government's careful, considered approach to the advisory group's recommendations.
This issue is far too complex and involves too many different players to feel like we are pressured into moving too quickly and certainly the considered, careful approach is one that we would expect from any responsible government, which is why I am encouraged that our government is taking the time to get it right.
I am also very encouraged by the enormous progress that Canada has made on this issue over the many years. I was encouraged today when the pointed out in his speech some very effective, voluntary, corporate social responsible practices that have been put in place by Canadian companies over a number of years.
We see those responsibilities playing out in many different countries around the world. Many of these companies and industry associations are recognized for the great work they are doing in communities in Canada and abroad in support of education, health and social well-being and diversified economic development. Each one of those is a speech in itself.
Many corporations and many of our responsible oil companies are helping to enhance the education system, the health care system and the way of life for many people around the world. The government certainly encourages this.
We encourage and expect all Canadian companies in all sectors to respect all applicable laws and international standards and to work in close collaboration with host governments. We applaud their ongoing efforts to make a positive impact in the communities in which they are operating. However, there is a shared responsibility among all actors, including governments, to ensure the right conditions are in place to facilitate good corporate conduct. We have heard that here in this place today. We have heard different members from other parties talk about the government putting in place good practices and we see that is happening.
I would like to take a few moments today to recognize some of the great work the government is doing in support of corporate social responsible, or CSR, principles.
In addition to organizing the round tables under discussion today, Canada is also a strong supporter of the international extractive industries transparency initiative, or EITI. This was one of the advisory group's central recommendations. We can see that the government is living up to that. It has been recommended and we endorse that type of recommendation.
The initiative supports and promotes improved governance in resource rich developing nations by publishing and verifying all company payments and government revenues stemming from the extractive sector. It is proving to be an effective way of publishing what companies pay and what governments receive in an open, transparent and accountable manner.
I do not think it is a surprise to anyone that around the world these principles are not universal. These principles are not something that every governing body around the world would sign onto. Therefore, Canada plays a major role in working government to government to encourage these types of socially responsible principles.
The advisory group also recommended enhanced public reporting by the Canada Investment Fund for Africa, yet another step this government has endorsed.
As a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, Canada is a proud signatory to the OECD's guidelines for multinational enterprises. This is a multilateral instrument to promote corporate social responsibility and has been the cornerstone of Canada's approach to this issue.
This means that Canada is obliged to establish and maintain a national contact point, someone who is responsible for promoting OECD guidelines, handling inquiries and helping to resolve issues concerning specific instances of Canadian businesses' conduct abroad, including the business of mining and oil companies or, what we call, the extractive sector. The principle is being endorsed.
There has been talk about an ombudsman. We have a contact person responsible for some of that who is a director general within the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. This is an effective way to engage stakeholders and to promote a positive, open and constructive dialogue between multinational companies and those that are affected by their operations in those countries.
As members know, Canada is also a member of the International Labour Organization, or the ILO. We fully support the ILO's tripartite declaration of principles concerning multinational enterprises and social policy. This is considered to be the universal basic reference point for social responsibility in the context of work or labour.
Export Development Canada, EDC, announced last year its support for the Ecuador principles. These principles are an international financing benchmark for assessing and managing social and environmental risks in project financing.
Canada has also provided financial support for a number of domestic and international initiatives aimed at promoting corporate social responsibility. For example, we provided financial support to the UN special representative to the secretary-general on business and human rights.
We have supported efforts to identify best practices for companies that are operating in combat zones. When Canadian corporations are in countries where conflict and war has broken out, there is a list of best practices for those companies.
What do Canadians expect? Canadians expect that in those types of situations our Canadian companies remain responsible. Therefore, a clear line of operating principles has been laid out.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade is undertaking a comprehensive initiative to ensure that its trade and diplomatic officers in Canada and abroad have the information and tools they need to provide effective corporate social responsible advice to Canadian clients around the world. This includes informational sessions and targeted training modules to ensure our embassies abroad and the regional DFAIT offices have individuals who, when they need training on how to understand the corporate social responsibilities in that given country, are given that training to ensure they have the ability not only to understand the principles laid out, but that they can then pass it on to the companies operating within that jurisdiction.
We also recognize the importance of fostering close partnerships with host governments in helping developing countries build the capacity they need to establish strong, effective, corporate social responsible regimes in their own countries.
We do recognize that not all governments, especially those governments in developing countries, have the tools, the knowledge or the capacity to ensure that corporate social responsible principles are being applied in their own countries. If their own home governments are not going to put these polices in place, Canadians can be assured that Canada will.
That is why, for example, we are providing financial assistance to help Peru join the OECD Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises. Peru's adherence to the declaration would be a huge step forward for that country in terms of corporate social responsibility practices and adherence to the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises. Our involvement in Peru also contributes to strengthening economic partnerships in Latin America, a region that is of utmost priority for this government. It is an initiative that we are very proud to support.
In fact, resource governance is an issue in which Canada can play a big role. Our vast experience in developing our own resources over the decades has given us a wide scope of expertise to share with partners in developing nations. This would be an excellent area of further cooperation as developing countries build up their own expertise and create the foundations for successful, open and responsible extraction sectors that can benefit their citizens.
The Government of Canada, in partnership with mining associations and aboriginal organizations, has also developed a mining kit to help aboriginal people evaluate and participate in the opportunities offered by the mining sector. This kit is now used and adapted in many countries, including the Philippines, Australia, Norway and Peru. They recognize Canada's initiative and they are following up on our practice. Indeed, Canada's voice on this issue is an influential one that is being heard around the world.
We are also working closely with our partners through APEC, OAS, La Francophonie and G-8 to communicate the importance of corporate social responsibility principles to the business community. Indeed, at last year's G-8 summit in Germany, leaders agreed to promote a consolidated set of internationally recognized corporate social responsibility guidelines for the extractive sector. This is yet another good example of how we are working with our global partners on this important issue.
I am happy to say that we are even extending this principled approached to our trade negotiations. The member for brought up the importance of trade negotiations and the removal of trade barriers.
As members know, we recently signed a free trade agreement with Peru. While this is a very significant victory for Canadian exporters and investors who will now enjoy unprecedented access to this important market, the agreement is good and important for another reason also. This treaty is Canada's first free trade agreement to include language that encourages the parties to support positive corporate socially responsible practices and reminds enterprises of the importance of incorporating those corporate social responsibility standards in their internal policies. We also signed parallel agreements on labour and the environment.
Canada is a leader in this. The opposition has asked when the government will come forward with a reply. It is a considered reply. It is a reply that will be coming in due course and we look forward to that.
We are grateful for the opportunity to share the good things that Canada is doing in--