Feds won’t change Harper-era mining ethics office – by Peter Mazereeuw (Embassy News – February 10, 2016)


The Trudeau government won’t be making changes to the role of a controversial corporate social responsibility counsellor for the mining sector, according to a government spokesperson.

The Office of the Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor has been criticized in the past by advocates for tougher action by Canada on human rights abuses connected to Canadian-owned mines abroad.

The office, created by the Conservative government in 2009, was only able to produce reports on five disputes related to corporate social responsibility that were investigated during the four-year tenure of the first counsellor, Marketa Evans, who resigned from the role in 2013. As well, the mining companies involved in three of those disputes refused to take part in the full review process, according to reports published by the office.

The office was given a new direction by the Conservatives in 2014 after Ms. Evans resigned. But the current government is not planning to make any changes to the office, currently under its second counsellor, Jeffrey Davidson, said Global Affairs Canada spokesperson François LaSalle.

That doesn’t sit well with a pair of advocates for reform of Canada’s regulation of extractive companies abroad, who say the CSR counsellor does little to hold to account companies in those sectors that are linked to human rights abuses.

However, lobby groups for Canada’s mining industry say the office of the CSR counsellor hasn’t had enough time to work under its new mandate, and plays an important role in resolving disputes out of the courts.

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