On February 23, 2021, the CNCA’s National Coordinator Emily Dwyer testified in front of the Parliamentary Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (SDIR) as the SDIR began its study on the role of the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE).
Surya Deva, the Vice Chair of the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights spoke on March 23rd, 6:30-8:30 PM.
At the hearing, Surya Deva clearly reiterated the UN Working Group’s recommendations for an empowered CORE stating:
“In short, if a core objective of the CORE is to provide effective remedies and hold Canadian companies accountable for their overseas human rights abuses, it would need more powers to fulfill this objective. The CORE should have the power to investigate, power to compel documents and testimony, and the power to enforce its recommendations against companies. With such powers, the CORE would not only be able to remediate, but also prevent human rights abuses linked to overseas operations of Canadian companies.”
The Vice Chair of the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights also called on the Government of Canada to catch up to its European counterparts and enact mandatory human rights due diligence legislation:
“I will also take this opportunity to encourage the Canadian government to develop a national action plan on business and human rights similar to the regulatory initiatives unfolding in Europe. It should enact a comprehensive, mandatory human rights due diligence legislation governing business activities, both inside and outside Canada. Only then would Canada be able to claim rightfully global leadership in promoting business respect for human rights.”
You can watch the full hearing with Surya Deva’s testimony at the 19:35:00 mark, read the transcript, listen to reporting on the hearings from the CBC’s The House, and/or see coverage from the National Observer.
In 2019, Surya Deva criticized the Canadian government for delays in creating the Ombudsperson’s office, and warned that Canada’s reputation as a human rights leader would be damaged if the government backtracked on its commitment to provide the CORE with full powers to compel testimony and documents from companies.
This came after the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights published a country report, in June of 2018, calling on Canada to ensure its newly announced Ombudsperson received the resources, independence and powers needed to effectively address human rights abuses by Canadian multinationals.
CNCA’s Emily Dwyer testifies at international human rights parliamentary subcommittee study on the CORE: