Media Advisory: One year ago the Government of Canada announced the creation of a corporate ombudsperson. It’s time to fulfill its promise.

17 January 2019

Source: Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability

(Ottawa) January 17, 2019 marks one year since the Government of Canada announced it would create an ombudsperson’s office to independently investigate allegations of abuse by Canadian companies operating overseas. This commitment to establish the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE), the first office of its kind in the world, is a critical advancement for corporate accountability.

A year later the position remains vacant. Canada must take action, appoint a strong ombudsperson, and grant the office robust investigatory powers that include the power to compel documents and testimony. Canada made a clear commitment last January to be a global leader in business and human rights. Canada must keep its promise.

“People harmed by the operations of Canadian companies overseas still have nowhere to turn, one year after the Government of Canada announced the creation of the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise. Canada needs to keep its promise to be a leader in business and human rights and immediately appoint an effective ombudsperson. We need an office with teeth. To be credible, it is essential the ombudsperson be independent, report publicly, and have the tools to independently investigate, including the power to compel documents and testimony. Impacted communities and workers can wait no longer.” – Emily Dwyer, Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA)

For media inquiries:

  • Emily Dwyer, Coordinator for the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA)
    Mobile: 819-592-6657; edwyer@cnca-rcrce.ca

The Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability brings together 35 environmental, human rights, faith-based, international development, labour, and solidarity groups from across Canada. Representing millions of Canadians, the network has been a key voice in advocating for an effective ombudsperson, with the necessary powers to make a real difference. For additional background on the ombudsperson and issues of corporate accountability in Canada, visit CNCA’s website.

 

Background:

  • Announcement made on January 17, 2018 by then International Trade Minister Champagne to create the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE)
  • The CORE will investigate complaints concerning the overseas operations of Canadian companies and will issue public findings on allegations of harm. The office will make recommendations for redress, corporate eligibility for government services, and policy and law reform.
  • To effectively investigate allegations of human rights abuses, it is essential the ombudsperson hold the powers to summon witnesses and compel the production of documents. These powers, which are held by analogous offices, were part of the January commitment.
  • Reports of serious human rights abuses linked to Canadian mining, oil and gas companies has attracted significant international attention: by the United Nations, regional human rights bodies, and organizations and communities around the world. From 2000 to 2015, Canadian mining companies were associated with over a thousand human rights incidents in just 13 countries. Existing voluntary dispute mechanisms in Canada are neither credible nor effective.
  • Canada is the headquarters to over 55 percent of the world’s largest extractive companies with operations in more than 100 countries. Canada is both uniquely positioned to take global leadership on corporate accountability and has a particular responsibility to do so.