Central Nova, Cumberland-Colchester candidates reply to questions re human rights abuses of Canadian companies abroad and support for Open for Justice campaign. Tories do not respond.
The Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network (BTS) supports the Open for Justice campaign that seeks to ensure that people whose human rights have been abused by Canadian mining, oil and gas companies abroad are able to seek justice in Canada.Twenty-nine groups support Open for Justice, including Amnesty International, MiningWatch Canada, KAIROS, Development and Peace and the United Church of Canada.
Canada is home to more than half of the world’s mining companies, with projects in more than 100 countries. These companies are often viewed as representatives of Canada abroad, but human rights abuses, environmental damage, displacement and violations of basic labour rights are increasingly associated with these projects. There is no international system that governs resource extraction to protect human rights or the environment. In many countries, protections do not exist or are not enforced, multilateral institutions are often weak or inaccessible, and there are barriers to seeking justice in Canada.
BTS members from Pugwash to Antigonish asked Central Nova and Cumberland-Colchester riding candidates whether they would work in Parliament to:
1. Create an independent extractive-sector Ombudsperson in Canada, with the power to investigate complaints and make recommendations, including suspending or ending Canadian government support to companies that do not respect international standards; and
2. Provide legislated access to Canadian courts for people who have been seriously harmed by the international operations of Canadian companies. Such legislation would clarify that Canadian courts are appropriate venues in which to hear claims against companies registered in Canada?
No response was received from Conservative Party candidates Fred Delorey and Scott Armstrong. Mr. Armstrong voted in October 2014 against Bill C-584, a Private Member’s Bill for the creation of an independent ombudsman’s office to replace the weak and ineffectual Office of the Extractive Sector Social Responsibility Counsellor.
Jason Blanch, Green Party My answer to your questions is a resounding yes! I feel as Canadians we have a responsibility to ensure that the behaviour of our corporations reflects the values we hold as a people, and this is clearly not the case with regard to many Canadian mining companies today.
Bill Casey, Liberal Party Question #1: Yes, assuming the bill is similar to C-584. Question#: I have no idea if this international initiative is possible or how it would work. Prior to making a commitment I would prefer to hear all aspects of this proposal and have some legal opinions of how it might work. I will however be pleased to meet to talk about this approach and explore the possibility at any time.
Wendy Robinson, NDP NDP MP Ève Péclet introduced a bill in 2014 to strengthen corporate social responsibility (CSR) among Canadian extracting companies operating in developing countries. The NDP believes that non-Canadians who have been harmed by the international operations of Canadian companies should be able to bring lawsuits before a Canadian court.
Scott Armstrong, Conservative Party No response
Responses: Central Nova
David Hachey, Green Party David Hachey is committed to work to bring forward both of the recommendations and to work to restore the inclusion of key civil society groups into parliamentary committees and other spheres of federal decision making.
Sean Fraser, Liberal Party We support the call for an independent Extractive Sector Ombudsman. A Liberal government will act on the National Roundtables Advisory Group’s recommendations. You have asked for legislated access to Canadian courts by people who have been seriously harmed by international operations of Canadian companies. Although we have not committed to this we welcome further discussion.
Ross Landry, NDP NDP MP Ève Péclet introduced a bill in 2014 to strengthen corporate social responsibility among Canadian extracting companies operating in developing countries. No response to Question #2.
Fred Delorey, Conservative Party No response
For further information, contact: Breaking the Silence Coordinator Jackie McVicar, firstname.lastname@example.org, 902-324-2584 or Kathryn Anderson, email@example.com, 902-956-1137