[Canada] Government backs disputed mining institute (Embassy News – February 17, 2016)


The Trudeau government will continue to support a Harper-era organization that aims to help developing countries to grow and regulate their mining industries.

That support, confirmed by a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, comes despite ongoing criticism of the organization known as the Canadian International Resources and Development Institute from a student-led advocacy group, as well as MiningWatch Canada.

The head of the institute says it is trying to ensure developing countries benefit from resource extraction in the same way Canada has, and that CIRDI has had a “hard time keeping up” with requests for its services from foreign governments.

The Liberal government’s statement of support for CIRDI comes the week after the government told Embassy it supports the Office of the Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor, another controversial creation of the Conservative government that aims to promote corporate social responsibility for mining companies abroad.

Funding runs to 2018

CIRDI was established in 2013 to “deliver knowledge on proven regulation and oversight to help resource-rich developing countries create jobs and economic growth,” according to a press release from then-international co-operation minister Julian Fantino.

The institute—formerly known as the Canadian International Institute for Extractive Industries and Development—is a combined effort between the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and École Polytechnique de Montréal, and was given $24.6 million over five years by the federal government in 2013.

The government continues to support CIRDI’s mandate and its funding, said GAC spokesperson François Lasalle.

“Global Affairs Canada is confident that CIRDI’s leadership is working hard to build a solid foundation to enable the Institute to effectively deliver on its mandate,” wrote Mr. Lasalle in an emailed statement, which also highlighted CIRDI’s hiring of new staff and “key actions to strengthen the Institute’s financial systems [and] governance structure.”

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