Would you sign the following petition to your local Canadian Member of Parliament? The petition urges the Canadian Federal government to pass legislation that would:
- Adopt legislation establishing Canadian courts as an appropriate forum to hear claims by non-Canadians who have been negatively affected by the overseas operations of Canadian registered companies.
- Adopt a legally binding mechanism for greater accountability by federal government departments and agencies, including the Export Development Corporation (EDC), that makes the receipt of government political and financial support by extractive companies contingent upon compliance with corporate accountability standards. Such standards need to be based on international labour and human rights norms, ensure environmental sustainability and protection, and respect the right of Indigenous peoples to Free, Prior and Informed Consent, consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and international jurisprudence.
- Ensure that all projects receiving funding support from CIDA comply with the criteria of the Official Development Assistance (ODA) Accountability Act mandating that ODA must first and foremost contribute to poverty reduction, take into account the perspectives of the poor, and be consistent with international human rights standards.
- Adopt legislation to ensure that Canada’s bilateral agreements, including Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements (FIPAs) and Free Trade Agreements, respect the responsibility of national and local governments to make economic, social, and environmental decisions that are in the best interests of their countries and communities, support accountability and transparency to local citizens, and do not attract and promote investment by lowering human rights and environmental standards contrary to international human rights protection.
The background to this proposed petition is described thus by The United Church of Canada’s site calling on people to sign:
Approximately 75 percent of the world’s mining companies are registered in Canada. Various Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, both in Canada and abroad, have raised serious concerns regarding the impact of mining activities in their communities, including by certain Canadian companies. These concerns include environmental destruction, weak environmental assessments, failure to fully and adequately secure the consent of local communities, complicity in human rights violations, and the use of government-sanctioned militias as security forces.
In response to partner organizations in affected countries, The United Church of Canada is asking all Canadians to call on the Canadian government to implement binding legislation that will regulate the activities of Canadian mining companies overseas to ensure compliance with international human rights standards and promote long-standing Canadian values of respect for the rule of law, good governance, and democracy.
I for one would not sign. I cannot see how Canadian courts could become the place of final litigation for the world. I cannot see why we should even attempt to do that, if it could be done. I am concerned about the idea that Canadian law should be made to transcend the laws of independent countries–even though such laws may be bad.
This is not about Canadian mining companies and the way they act in foreign places. This is about the imposition of Canadian law worldwide as a kind of world government thing. I just feel uneasy about the possible ramifications. Before signing at least let us have a healthy debate about the ramifications.