A new report that documents 15 years of violence near Canadian mines in Latin America says the federal government is not doing enough to address the problem. The study, published Monday, charts 44 deaths, 403 injuries and 709 arrests, detentions and charges from 2000-2015 that the authors link to 28 Canadian companies’ mining projects in 13 countries in the region.
“The world is taking notice of Canadian companies for all the wrong reasons,” said Shin Imai, a law professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School and principal author of the report, titled The Canada Brand: Violence and Canadian Mining Companies in Latin America.
“We need a more robust way to hold companies accountable,” he said. Pierre Gratton, president of the Mining Association of Canada, which represents several of Canada’s largest resource companies, said his members are committed to human rights and do disclose workplace injuries and fatalities in annual sustainability reporting.
Some Canadian companies work in “jurisdictions in which levels of violence are significantly higher, and respect for the rule of law lower, than that experienced in Canada, which is a challenge,” Gratton said. “Our members don’t condone violence nor, in many of these examples, is violence directly correlated to operations.”
Ottawa requires that Canadian mining companies follow voluntary corporate social responsibility (CSR) codes in their overseas activity. The office of the federal CSR counsellor also works to “reduce and constructively resolve” conflicts between local communities and Canadian companies. That office does not conduct investigations nor have the power to sanction companies.
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