Ombudsperson

At the core of the Open for Justice campaign is the demand to create an ombudsperson to handle the grievances of people affected by Canadian oil, gas and mining companies abroad.

After 11 years of campaigning for greater corporate accountability, the CNCA is encouraged by the federal government’s creation of a human rights ombudsperson regarding the overseas operations of Canadian companies.

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Across the country, our member organizations, allies, and grassroots activists have kept this issue on the political agenda through sustained engagement with their members of Parliament. We’re pleased that the government is following through with its campaign promise to create an ombudsperson office.

We are encouraged that the government’s announcement includes commitments on each of the essential elements for an effective office.

To ensure the office is effective, we will continue to press for it to operate at arm’s length from government, free from political interference. The ombudsperson must be given the power and resources needed to conduct thorough investigations – including the power to compel the production of documents and testimony. We will monitor the office to ensure it makes public recommendations for remedy and harm prevention, and oversees the implementation of those recommendations. We will also be paying close attention to the office’s recommendations for policy and law reform in Canada to hold corporations to account for the impacts of their overseas operations.

Background

An effective ombudsperson will investigate allegations of human rights abuse or environmental damage and form an opinion on whether companies are causing or contributing to harm. He or she will also make public recommendations of actions that could be taken by companies or the Canadian government to stop abuses, provide remedy to victims or prevent future harm.

The CNCA has developed model legislation showing exactly how that could be done. The Global Leadership in Business and Human Rights Act provides a blueprint for legislators, setting out the essential elements that should be included in any bill to create an ombudsperson to handle complaints of wrongdoing by Canadian extractive companies overseas.

Other essential reading

“Talk is Not Enough” – Why we need an ombudsperson, and how this office would compare to Canada’s two existing ineffective grievance mechanisms

Parliamentary report card
See which parties and MPs have demonstrated a commitment to creating an ombudsperson

Criteria for an effective ombudsperson:

Independence, integrity & fairness; effective investigation; public reporting; recommendations & remedy; monirotring & follow-up

Download the full infographic (PDF format)