By Mayalène Lavigne-Martel, Campaigns Officer
Since September 2021, our members have been mobilizing to put People and Planet First. The goal of the campaign is to ensure that Canada adopts mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence legislation (mHREDD) to regulate Canadian corporations operating abroad.
Why? To ensure that no corporation establishes itself in any community against their will while violating their rights and destroying the environment. Because too often in the Global South, the voices of industry-affected communities are not heard. And when human rights and environmental defenders dare to speak out, they are often threatened, criminalized and even murdered.
What have we achieved in a year and a half?
- Over 27,000 people signed our petition for due diligence legislation.
- Our members met and presented the campaign and petition to 43 Members of Parliament.
- In 2021 and 2022, several MPs presented the petition in the House of Commons (watch the recordings).
- On March 29, 2022, two private members’ bills (Bills C-262 and C-263) were tabled in the House of Commons. They are awaiting second reading and are likely to face a protracted process, but we hope that will eventually see the light of day.
- With our support, our partners secured the release from prison of Víctor Vásquez, a wrongly criminalized Honduran human rights activist. Canadian youngsters touched by his story even sent him Christmas cards.
- Last spring, our Peruvian partner CEAS, wrote an open letter to delegates at the Convention of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC). The letter called for Canada to adopt mHREDD legislation.
- We brought international attention to the case of Honduran journalist Sonia Pérez, who is being persecuted for her truth-telling. Our executive director Carl Hétu wrote about her to the Canadian ambassador in Honduras and our members wrote her letters of solidarity.
In short, thousands of Canadians have become aware of the need for due diligence legislation thanks to the commitment of our members and the support of our partners.
For many years, Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada has been calling for Canada to take more responsibility for its corporations’ overseas operations. We have long advocated for the creation of a statutory ombudsperson who has the power to receive and analyze complaints about the Canadian extractive sector and to assess its compliance with international labour, environmental, human rights and social responsibility standards.
The People and Planet First campaign for mHREDD legislation is part of this larger effort. Over the coming years, we will continue pressuring our government until people in the Global South who are affected by Canadian corporations’ misdeeds can achieve justice and live in peace and dignity.
We warmly thank everyone who is mobilizing with us and helping ensure that the Canadian people hear the voices of communities in the Global South. Let us not forget that we are all part of the same great human family; that we share a common home which we must cherish and respect more; and that everything is interconnected. Together, let us continue to act so that a world of justice takes root.
Enjoy this photo gallery of key moments from the campaign.