Jesuit organisations around the world have lent their weight to a campaign in support of the creation of a Canadian ombudsman office to receive complaints concerning the overseas operations of Canadian extractive companies. The Canadian government has previously indicated it is giving serious consideration to establishing such an office. The campaign is being spearheaded by the Canadian Network on Corporate Responsibility (CNCR), of which Canadian Jesuits International (CJI) is a member.
Alboan in Spain, Jesuit Social Services in Australia and ERIC in Honduras are among those who have followed the lead of Canadian Jesuits International in writing to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau backing the idea. The Justice in Mining Network encourages other Jesuit organisations to consider following suit.
According to Global Affairs Canada, which manages Canada’s diplomatic and international relations, Canadian-headquartered mining and exploration companies accounted for nearly 31% of global exploration expenditures in 2013. In the same year, over 50% of the world’s publically listed exploration and mining companies were headquartered in Canada. These 1500 companies had an interest in some 8000 properties in over 100 countries around the world.
There is no doubt that the work of Canadian mining companies has an impact on the lives of individuals and organisations globally. While people around the world depend on some of the materials extracted, they also have an interest in ensuring this is done in a sustainable manner that respects the environment and human rights. The appointment of an independent Ombudsman would be an important step in showing that Canada understands this.
Campaigners are arguing for a number of elements to ensure that the mechanism is credible, including:
- the office will be independent (from government and industry)
- company participation in the process will be mandatory
- the ombudsperson will undertake investigations
- the process will be transparent
- it will feature public reporting, including reports on ombudsperson investigations
- the ombudsperson will publish a final report for each case that includes recommendations (this can include recommendations for the Canadian government)
- the ombudsperson will monitor compliance with recommendations
- companies that do not comply with recommendations will become ineligible for several forms of government support
Organisations wishing to join this campaign should contact Jenny Cafiso at Canadian Jesuits International, firstname.lastname@example.org, or write directly to Prime Minister Trudeau at email@example.com.