A regime change in Ottawa means that the government of Canada will be breathing down the necks of its mining companies operating in the the global south, a Liberal MP confirmed to VICE News.
John McKay, who has sat in the House of Commons since 1997, has repeatedly tried to push the previous Conservative government to set up penalties for mining companies who have breached human rights, environmental standards, or labor practises.
But his efforts to update the law, by way of bill C-300, were foiled — once in 2009, and again in 2011.
While McKay says the new government hasn’t discussed the bill yet, he’s optimistic the legislation will be returning in due course. “That, I hope, would be a government initiative,” McKay says.
C-300 would have created a system to allow citizens of foreign “developing” nations to file complaints against Canadian mining companies, directly to either the minister of foreign affairs, or international trade. If the minister determines the complaint is legitimate, and that the company has broken international standards for business, then the company will lose all support from the Canadian government.
That support is nothing to blink at. One estimate says that the extractive sector receives $20 billion from Export Development Canada, a government agency, in subsidies and insurance alone. The Canadian Pension Plan invests millions more. Other departments and programs offer even more cash to the industry.
Calls have increased in recent years to do something to force the companies to behave responsibly.
Three-quarters of the world’s mining companies are said to be headquartered in Canada, which means much of the blame ends up on Canada’s doorstep when things go badly.
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