Still waiting for Canada to take effective action on corporate abuses abroad

Photo: CNCA

The appointment of the highly anticipated Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) is expected by year’s end, as civil society pressure mounts to ensure that Canada lives up to its promise to hold Canadian companies in the mining, oil and gas, and garment sectors accountable for their human rights abuses abroad.

On January 17, 2018, after eleven years of campaigning for increased Canadian corporate accountability, the Government of Canada announced the creation of the Canadian Ombudsperson. The office will be mandated to investigate allegations of human rights abuses linked to Canadian corporate activity abroad, starting with the extractive and garment industries, and provide remedy to victims.

To date, however, the Ombudsperson is still not in place, raising serious concern among civil society organizations about the Canadian government’s intentions to effectively, and meaningfully, follow through with their promise to create the first office of its kind. In recent weeks, Amnesty International, and several member organizations of the Canadian Network for Corporate Accountability (CNCA), have begun to ramp up their campaigning to put pressure on local Members of Parliament and the Minister of International Trade Diversification, Jim Carr. The CNCA is made up of over 30 Canadian human rights, social justice, international development, trade union and faith organizations, including MSN.  

CNCA’s Coordinator, Emily Dwyer, explains their main concern in a December 3 Op-Ed in the Ottawa Citizen: “Canada can either invest the Ombudsperson with real powers to investigate abuses and redress the harm caused by Canadian companies, or it can create a position without adequate powers, call it an ombudsperson, and leave individuals and communities harmed by Canadian mining companies with nowhere to turn to for help.”  

With the appointment of the Ombudsperson expected within the coming weeks, it remains to be seen whether the Canadian government will establish an office with the powers needed to hold Canadian companies in the mining, oil and gas, and garment sectors accountable for their abuses abroad. 

More Information:
Dwyer: Canada's new corporate ombudsperson needs real power (CNCA Op-Ed in the Ottawa Citizen)
To take action in calling for the creation of the Ombudsperson, click here
For more background on CORE and the work of the CNCA, click here