The Liberal government is showing no sign it plans to change the way Canadian mining companies are held accountable when acts of violence, intimidation, or environmental degradation are linked to their overseas operations.
A large proportion of the world’s mining companies are based in Canada, and over the years several of those companies and their subsidiaries have been directly or indirectly tied to abuses of people and the environment around foreign mine sites.
Activists, advocacy groups, and politicians, most notably Liberal MP and now-parliamentary secretary for defence John McKay (Scarborough-Guildwood, Ont.), have called for stronger mechanisms for holding companies accountable when they are at fault and local courts aren’t up to the task.
The previous Conservative government made a couple of attempts to encourage all mining companies to behave responsibly abroad, but stopped short of bringing in serious, mandatory enforcement tools to do so.
The Conservatives actively supported the expansion of overseas projects by Canadian mining companies, including through diplomatic support and funding for the Canadian International Resources and Development Institute, also known as CIRDI.
The Liberal government so far appears mostly uninterested in changing the way the government holds to account mining companies that are involved in illegal or unethical activity in other countries. The current government has endorsed the controversial CIRDI and Office of the Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor for the mining sector brought in under its Conservative predecessor.
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