March 28th, 2022
NDP tables bills to fight for human and environmental rights
The government must do more to ensure Canadian corporations respect human rights, Indigenous rights and the environment here and abroad
OTTAWA — Today, in response to longstanding calls from activists, civil society, labour organizations in Canada and impacted communities around the world, NDP MPs Peter Julian (New Westminster-Burnaby) and Heather McPherson (Edmonton-Strathcona) tabled legislation to strengthen oversight and enforcement to ensure that Canadian corporations respect human rights and the environment abroad. MP McPherson tabled bill C-263 that would give the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) the necessary powers to investigate human right abuses by Canadian corporations. To help carry out that work, MP Julian tabled bill C-262 to enshrine in Canadian law tools to hold Canadian corporations accountable for their actions.
“No one should be suffering abuse at the hands of a Canadian company,” said MP McPherson. “Canada lacks an Ombudsperson with teeth and the power to hold Canadian corporations accountable for their actions here and abroad,” said MP McPherson. “Bill C-263 outlines important revisions to the CORE to ensure it has powers to investigate alleged human rights abuses and to compel witnesses and documents. While the CORE has been operational for nearly three years, the Government of Canada has failed to give it the powers that were promised. Canada must live up to its international human rights obligations and stop putting corporate profits ahead of human rights and environmental protection. International reputation is at stake.”
Together, these Private Members Bills aim to install powerful legislative tools for Canada to respond to violations of human rights and dangerous threats to the environment linked to the global operations and supply chains of Canadian companies. Currently, human, labour and environmental rights lack protections. Canada’s federal government should be holding Canadian corporations, their subsidiaries and supply chains to a high standard of corporate social responsibility at home and abroad – and ensure they meet it.
“Despite knowing for decades that Canadian companies and supply chains are contributing to human rights abuse and environmental damage abroad, the Canadian government continues to rely on voluntary measures to encourage responsible business conduct,” said Julian. “Bill C-262 would require companies to identify, prevent and mitigate human rights abuses and provides for liability when companies cause harm in their global operations. The federal government must make abusive actions by Canadians and Canadian corporations illegal here and abroad.”
Quotes by validators:
“Canadian unions welcome these bills to ensure workers and communities aren’t harmed by the overseas business activities of Canadian companies and that they have access to remedy when violations do occur. For decades, trade unions have been fighting globalization’s race to the bottom that put profits before people. These bills are helping us build back better for everyone by ensuring that labour and human rights are fully respected.” — Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress
“Canada is a leading player in the global mining industry, but for over 20 years MiningWatch has witnessed a persistent pattern of egregious human rights abuses and environmental impacts related to Canadian mining operations overseas. These abuses keep happening primarily because our companies operate without serious consequences for the harm they do and because Canada has consistently failed to create accountability at home; that will change if these bills are implemented into law.” — Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada
“The two bills tabled today will help create a level playing field for forward looking Canadian companies that have already taken steps to improve human rights and environment performance; for those companies that are laggards the bills will be the push they need to adapt to a changing world. As well, MP McPherson’s bill offers the Liberal government an opportunity to make good on its 2018 commitment to a human rights ombudsperson with teeth. There is now legislation in front of the House that can finally and fully establish the Ombudsperson workers and communities have been asking for.” — Meg Gingrich, on behalf of Marty Warren, National Director of USW-Canada