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PSAC supports Bill C-300

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.

Kevin Sorenson, Chair
Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A OA6

September 17, 2009

Dear Mr. Sorenson and members of the Committee:

The Public Service Alliance of Canada, representing over 166,000 members across Canada, would like to express its full support for Bill C-300, An Act Respecting Corporate Accountabilty for the Activities of Mining, Oil or Gas in Developing Countries.

We are pleased to know that after a long series of consultations and roundtable discussions between the Government of Canada, representatives for the mining industry and a broad range of civil society organizations in Canada, Bill C-300 was adopted in the second reading by the House of Commons on April 22, 2009 and has been referred to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

For several years, members of PSAC from across Canada have visited mining communities and heard from mine workers directly affected by the operations of Canadian and other mining corporations operating specifically in Colombia, Guatemala and the Philippines. These visits have deeply impacted our union leaders and members who witnessed first-hand forced displacement, militarization and other forms of repression that have accompanied the operations of the extractive industry. The exceptionally high percentage of cases of human rights abuses associated with the activities of the extractive industries around the globe has been well documented and indicates voluntary codes of corporate social responsibility do not suffice.

Furthermore, our union continues to receive countless urgent action requests and appeals from communities as far away as Chile, Peru, Indonesia, the Congo and other nations demanding an end to forced displacement, threats and intimidations of local communities, threats to mine workers, and the destruction of vital habitat and protected areas, including water resources. We are hard pressed to be able to assist these communities or workers in channelling their concerns to the appropriate authorities, due to the lack of effective accountability mechanisms in Canada to ensure compliance in regards to international human rights, labour and environmental standards.

PSAC believes that it is the responsibility of the Canadian government to establish mechanisms to ensure that Canadian-based mining corporations that receive credits and support from the Canadian government, ultimately paid for by the Canadian taxpayers, respect international human and labour rights as well as environmental standards. As mentioned above, voluntary codes are a positive step, but cannot replace a proper regulatory framework that allows for sanction and remedy in the case where Canadian extractive industries do not comply with international human rights and environmental standards.

According to Mr. John Ruggie, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations, there is an increasing encouragement at the international level, including from the treaty bodies, for home States to take regulatory action to prevent abuse by their companies overseas. Canada is well-placed to offer leadership to bridge the gap that exists between the exploitation of the world's mineral wealth and the protection of human rights and the environment.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada strongly supports the passage of Bill C- 300.

John Gordon, National President

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