Canadian Catholics skeptical new oversight office will stop mining exploitation abroad – by Dean Dettloff (America: The Jesuit Review – April 29, 2019)

Sheri Meyerhoffer, a former lobbyist for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, has been tasked with overseeing the activities of Canadian companies abroad—most notably, extractive industries like gold mining and oil drilling—and many environmental and human rights advocates are not pleased.

On April 8, the Canadian international trade minister, Jim Carr, announced that Ms. Meyerhoffer would become the first ombudsperson of Canadian companies doing business in other nations, but Mr. Carr deferred questions about exactly what powers the ombudsperson would have.

Critics are disappointed that Ms. Meyerhoffer’s office will not be independent but will instead be budgeted by, and accountable to, Mr. Carr’s office.

The new office, which was announced in January 2018, followed years of petitions, letter-writing campaigns and grassroots organizing across the globe. Canada is home to the majority of the world’s mining companies, and most of them operate in Latin America, where harrowing stories of abuse of workers and local ecosystems are widespread.

But activists, many of them Catholic, say the new office pales in comparison to what they hoped for and what they thought the government was committed to implementing.

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