[From the article by JP Laplante and Catherine Nolan:]
In March 2009, Canada released its long-awaited response to calls for regulatory oversight of the overseas operations of extractive industries such as mining and oil. The Conservative government’s Building the Canadian Advantage: A Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Strategy for the Canadian International Extractive Sector was drafted in response to years of public, civil society, and parliamentary pressure to remove the impunity with which Canadian extractive companies operate overseas. A 2005 parliamentary report calling on legal reform, and subsequent government-industry-civil society National Roundtables – resulting in recommendations for an independent ombudsman’s office – did little to counter mining industry lobbying and a receptive Conservative government.
The resulting corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy is a tepid response that has no teeth, but we find it a useful starting point to understand just what is CSR and how the world of corporate public relations is appropriating the term for their own benefit.
Nearly every major extractive industry player has adopted voluntary CSR policies or social sustainability statements and a growing body of consultants, socially responsible investors, and NGOs are debating how to promote it. However, ongoing violations of human rights beg the question: is talking in terms of CSR useful to those trying to seek justice for harms committed by Canadian multinationals? Perhaps more importantly, are victims even part of this discourse? Here, we present a deconstruction of corporate and government criticisms leveled at the narrowly defeated Bill C-300, Liberal MP John McKay’s hotly debated Corporate Accountability Act for the extractives sector, and horrible testimonies of injustice at Canadian hands to reveal that we must avoid the snake oil that is the myth of voluntary CSR. Read the full article in Canadian Dimension