After years of pressure, Trudeau government to introduce new human rights watchdog – by Elizabeth McSheffrey (National Observer – January 16, 2018)

At long last, the Trudeau government has confirmed: Canada will have a brand new human rights watchdog to oversee Canadian businesses operating abroad.

International Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne will announce the creation of a ‘Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise’ (CORE) on Wednesday, his department told National Observer through an email invitation. The announcement is expected to address a two-year-old election campaign promise of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.

Champagne’s office would not reveal the scope and powers of the new watchdog ahead of the announcement, but offered a cryptic hint: “Independence will be achieved. This is a real departure from the past,” said communications director Joe Pickerill in an emailed statement sent on Tuesday.

The news comes after a decade of pressure from civil society groups to create an office in Canada that has teeth to crack down on Canadian companies whose activities overseas — including mining, oil and gas operations — are linked to human and environmental rights violations.

The position has not been filled yet, according to the ministry.

Activist cautiously optimistic

Speaking to National Observer ahead of the announcement, Karyn Keenan of Above Ground said she’s cautiously optimistic that the position will include the robust investigative powers required to examine allegations of abuse from all corners of the globe.

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