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View Heather McPherson Profile
NDP (AB)
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-02-19 18:26 [p.1284]
Madam Speaker, so-called Canadian mining companies are destroying our nation's reputation around the world. The horrific impact of these companies is neither new nor surprising, given the lack of accountability of so-called Canadian companies when it comes to upholding human rights, labour rights and environmental rights in countries in which they operate.
Companies flying the Canadian flag choose to work in countries where the rule of law is weak, democracy is fragile, respect for human rights is tenuous, corruption can be rampant and accountability is non-existent. The absence of regulatory and institutional systems allows these mining companies to take advantage of these fragile and unstable countries, and vulnerable people suffer because of it. We have seen, over and over again, that these companies are allowed to operate in ways favourable to their bottom line while preventing the investigation of the human rights violations they perpetrate.
Two-thirds of the world's mining firms are currently incorporated in Canada. Can we imagine why that is? We have such lax oversight of these companies that, whether they are Canadian or not, they are incorporated here.
For far too long, we have allowed companies flying the Canadian flag to operate in developing countries without any accountability for serious human rights and environmental rights violations. Despite the government's claims, we are not protecting the most vulnerable populations and we are not holding these companies to account.
The late NDP member of Parliament, Paul Dewar, worked tirelessly, fighting for human rights in Canada and around the world. Paul demanded an ombudsman over a decade ago and the NDP has been fighting for this position ever since.
Finally in 2018, the Liberal government created the ombudsman for responsible enterprise to oversee Canadian mining, oil and gas operations around the world. The ombudsman was mandated to review alleged human rights abuses arising from Canadian companies' operations abroad, make recommendations, monitor those recommendations, suggest trade measures for companies that do not co-operate in good faith, and report publicly throughout the process. This is not what is happening.
The Liberal government promised an independent ombudsperson with real powers to investigate abuses and redress harms caused by companies that fly the Canadian flag. Instead the powers of the ombudsman were watered down and the promises made by the government have not been kept. In fact, it is business as usual. Once again, the government has said all the right things and has done nothing to actually ensure accountability.
I have worked in international development for over 20 years and I have witnessed first-hand the profoundly damaging impacts that Canadian mining companies have abroad. I have stood in Nicaragua in front of a fence that says “go home Canada”. I have spoken to mothers who have to give their children poisoned water because that is all they have. Mining companies flying the Canadian flag have poisoned the aquifer on which their communities depend.
I have been to Nicaragua, Peru and Ecuador. I have seen what has happened when we are not able to hold Canadian companies to account. I have seen how vulnerable people are impacted when these mining companies move in, their resources are pulled out, their environment is irreparably damaged and the communities are left to suffer.
Independent and respected organizations like Amnesty International and the United Nations have identified widespread abuses by Canadian companies. Those include targeted assassinations, gang rape, violence against unarmed protesters and the use of slave labour.
When Canadians learn about what these companies are doing, they are shocked. They cannot believe that our government would sit idly by and let these abuses happen. Canadians—
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