Desperately Seeking Sanction: Canadian Extractive Companies and their Public Partners (Halifax Initiative)

Article prepared for the ‘Global Capital, Global Rights’ workshop convened by SFU and UBC. The text discusses civil society efforts in support of Bill C-300, legislation that sought to create accountability mechanisms regarding the provision of government support to Canadian extractive companies that operate overseas. It also overviews the extent to which Canada’s government actively supports extractive companies despite having no mechanisms for holding them accountable for overseas practices.

[From the article by Karyn Keenan:]

In February 2009, Liberal Member of Parliament, John McKay, tabled ground-breaking legislation in the Canadian House of Commons. His private member’s bill, An Act respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil or Gas in Developing Countries,2 took centre stage in a national debate concerning the Canadian overseas extractive sector. Bill C-300 sought to establish accountability mechanisms for several federal government agencies that provide Canadian extractive companies with political and financial support. The bill created a set of eligibility criteria for the agencies’ corporate clients and established a complaints mechanism regarding extractive corporations’ overseas operations.

The legislation built on several parliamentary and government processes that recommended the adoption of enhanced accountability measures regarding the provision of public support to Canada’s overseas extractive industry. Bill C-300 enjoyed the support of civil society organizations, academics and foreign government officials. It was opposed by industry, Bay Street and senior civil servants.3 Extractive companies, who characterized the bill as ‘punitive,’ warned that they would abandon Canada if the legislation were passed. The bill was defeated in the House of Commons by a slim margin, following a tremendous assault on Parliament Hill by mining sector lobbyists…

Romina Picolotti, former Argentinean Minister of the Environment, provided remarkable testimony regarding the Canadian mining industry’s influence in her country:

You’re obviously aware of the very large mine investments run by Canadian companies like that of Barrick Gold in Argentina. Barrick Gold is a modern example of a powerful economic giant that unscrupulously manipulates local politics and is skirting environmental and social controls to maximize profit, minimize investment risk, and ignore local cultures and communities to the detriment of the greater global objectives of sustainable development… Read the full article here.

This entry was posted in Conflict and Repression, Corporate Impunity, Corriente Resources, Oh, Canada: Canadian policy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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