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Bill C-323 Could Usher a Shift in the Culture of Canadian Corporate Impunity: Community Discussion in Toronto‏

by Erika Del Carmen Fuchs

Bill C-323 Could Usher a Shift in the Culture of Canadian Corporate Impunity: Community Discussion in Toronto‏
Bill C-323 Could Usher a Shift in the Culture of Canadian Corporate Impunity: Community Discussion in Toronto
 
By Erika Del Carmen Fuchs
Toronto, Canada. February 9.
 
In a room flowing over capacity, community members and speakers discussed how
Bill C-323 could usher a shift in the culture of Canadian mining and other corporations abroad from one of corporate impunity to one of corporate accountability.
 
“One in four mining companies are Canadian,” remarked Christine Mettler, one of the speakers. A number of these corporations have been implicated in human rights and environmental abuses, such as are the cases of Pacific Rim in El Salvador, Goldcorp in Guatemala, and Barrick in Papua New Guinea and Tanzania.
 
Law student Marie Sydney spoke about how the legislative initiative introduced by MP Peter Julian (Burnaby-New Westminster, NDP) would not automatically hold Canadian mining corporations responsible for human rights and other abuses committed by its personnel and subsidiaries in their operations in Latin America, Asia or Africa. However, if passed, it would permit civil claims by non-Canadians to be heard in Canada for abuses committed by these companies, which include killings, gang rape, intimidation, environmental destruction, displacement of communities, and labour violations.
 
As event organizers from the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network stated, Bill C-323 challenges the illusion that companies are self-regulating or socially responsible by opening up the possibility of bringing civil lawsuits against Canadian corporations that perpetrate abuses outside of Canada.
 
To date, there have not been effective government instruments for corporate accountability. Canada’s current mining watchdog, the Office of the Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor has been accused of being a‘bogus PR job’ (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2011/10/31/mining-watchdog-agency.html).
 
Speaker Raul Burbano highlighted how holding Canadian companies accountable for their actions abroad and responds to demands from communities in the South where Canadian mining corporations have been involved in abuses.
 
Having Bill C-323 pass would be an important legal and political step in a series of actions needed to ensure justice for victims of crimes perpetrated by these mining companies and their subsidiaries.
 
Community members expressed their commitment to work to pass Bill C-323. For more information, go to: http://passthebill.ca/. Other activities to bring attention to Canadian mining practices are also planned. The 4th Annual Mining Injustice Conference will be held April 28-29 in Toronto. A Rights Action delegation to participate in a Health Tribunal with communities affected by Canadian mining in Guatemala is also planned this year; for future details, go to: http://www.rightsaction.org.
 
The event was part of the Latin American and Caribbean solidarity month during February 2012. The activities are aimed at engaging the Canadian public on issues that link local and international issues and strengthens solidarity between North and South. For more information, http://lacsn.weebly.com/latin-american--caribbean-solidarity-month-february-2012.html'.
 

 


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Topics: Governance
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