It just got riskier and more expensive for Canadian companies to do business outside the country
The federal government announced last week its latest attack on Canada’s investment climate: The Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE).
The CORE will be mandated to investigate allegations of human-rights abuses linked to Canadian corporate activity abroad. While critical details on how the ombudsman will operate were absent from the announcement, it is clear that Canadian companies operating abroad were dealt a major blow.
It just got riskier and more expensive for Canadian companies to do business outside the country. This responsible-business ombudsman’s scope will focus on the mining, oil and gas and garment sectors, with the expectation that it will expand within a year to other business sectors, and replaces the Office of the Extractive Industry CSR Counsellor, which served as a remediation service for complaints against Canadian mining companies.
The federal government expects the CORE to begin accepting applications for the job within weeks. However, whether the principles of natural justice will apply is an open question. In other words, will safeguards be in place to ensure procedural fairness? As this ombudsman will have the power to sanction companies through public disclosure, these principles should apply.
There’s reason to be skeptical about that, considering that this single organization will serve as both investigator and judge. The CORE’s operating procedures are still being determined, including how decisions are made on whether an allegation should be investigated, how investigations are undertaken as well as how determinations will be made on the outcomes of these investigations.