Resolution 2007.02 Global Accountability for Canadian Registered Mining Companies
Submitted by: Alberta Mackenzie Provincial Council
Whereas, The federal government provides Canadian registered mining companies with financial and political support; and
Whereas, There is evidence that some Canadian registered mining companies have been implicated in cases of major environmental degradation and human rights violations in foreign countries; and
Whereas, Canadian registered mining companies with overseas operations should be held accountable when they violate international environmental and human rights standards; therefore, be it
Resolved, That the national council of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada, in 87th annual national convention assembled, urge the federal government to withdraw all support from Canadian registered mining companies that do not respect international environmental standards and human rights; and, be it further
Resolved, That the national council of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada, in 87th annual national convention assembled, urge the federal government to develop legal mechanisms that ensure that Canadian registered mining companies are held accountable (for their actions in foreign countries) to uphold the same environmental and human rights standards required in Canada.
BRIEF: Global Accountability for Canadian Registered Mining Companies
Some Canadian mining companies have been implicated in cases of human rights violations and major environmental degradation?jeopardizing the health, security and well-being of entire communities? (Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace).
There are documented cases from around the world, including the following:
• Glamis Gold’s highly environmentally destructive Marlin mine project in Guatemala. This open-pit gold mine has caused contamination of water sources from leaching and chemical spills that have damaged ecological and human health (Halifax Initiative Coalition).
• Anvil Mining Limited, a Canadian registered company, operates a mine near Likasi in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and has been implicated in massacres at Kilwa in October 2004 (Mining Watch Canada).
• TVI-Pacific, a Calgary-based company, operates a gold and copper mine in the indigenous Subanon community in Mindanao, Philippines. It did not obtain consent from the local community, has destroyed their lands and sacred sites, has displaced their population and has thus impoverished and created social instability in the community (KAIROS).
The federal government provides Canadian registered mining companies with financial and political support. Multinational mining companies incorporate themselves in Canada for the following reasons:
• ?to take advantage of Canada ‘s lower corporate tax rate (which is expected to be more than 6% lower than that of the US by 2008)?
• ?to gain access to our vast pools of private capital (the TSX accounts for 41% of the total equity capital raised for mining on global securities markets)?
• ?to take advantage of the mining expertise of Canadian brokers? (Friends of the Earth Canada)
• through Export Development Canada, a crown corporation, companies have access to political risk insurance and lines of credit (Export Development Canada)
The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade of the 38th Parliament in June 2005 called on the federal government to regulate the activities of Canadian extractive resource companies overseas (Government of Canada).
In an October 2005 report, Mining in Developing Countries ? Corporate Social Responsibility, the Canadian government responds that it ?expects and encourages Canadian companies investing abroad to conduct their activities in a socially and environmentally responsible manner? (Government of Canada, Response). However, according to evidence, the government does not appear to regulate adequately companies’ actions, nor does it hold them accountable when international laws are violated. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Hon. Peter G. MacKay, in February 2007, urging that the government follow through on the recommendations of the standing committee to make Canadian government support conditional on companies meeting clearly defined corporate and social responsibility and human rights standards ?as the protection of human rights is in no sense optional? (Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2006).
Canadian mining companies should conduct their overseas activities in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. They should be called to account by the federal government if they violate human rights and international laws regarding the environment (NGO Working Group) and if they jeopardize the health, security, and well-being of communities in foreign countries (Boulanger and Gorman).
The Catholic Women’s League of Canada urges the Canadian government, firstly, to withdraw current support from, and future support to, mining companies that do not respect these issues and, secondly, to develop legal mechanisms that ensure Canadian mining companies are held accountable for their actions in foreign countries.
Boulanger, Aimee and Alexandra Gorman, Hardrock Mining: Risks to Community Health, September 2004, <<www.earthworksaction.org/pubs/MiningHealthReport.pdf>> (January 31, 2007).
Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, Canadian mining called to account!, fall action leaflet, Toronto, 2006.
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Social Affairs Commission, letter to The Hon. Peter G. Mackay, Minister of Foreign Affairs, February 12, 2007, <<www.cccb.ca/site/content/view/24431/1152/lang,eng/>> ( May 9, 2007).
Export Development Canada, Financing: Lines of Credit, <<www.edc.ca/english/financing_lines_of_credit.htm>> and Insurance: Political Risk Insurance, <<www.edc.ca/english/insurance_political_risk.htm>> (May 9, 2007).