Federal elections: where do mining issues fit in?

For a number of years, Development and Peace has been calling on the Canadian government to establish an independent ombudsman for the Canadian extractive sector that can investigate complaints brought by communities in countries of the Global South affected by the operations of Canadian companies.

Two international conferences were held this summer on the mining issue. The meeting “United with God, we hear a cry” took place at the Vatican from July 17 to 19, and was organized jointly by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Latin American network Iglesias y Minería.  The meeting brought together communities from all over the world, whose members are victims of mining operations. The people assembled at the conference were there to bear witness, to support one another, and to search together for solutions when confronted with the impacts of mining activities.

Following this meeting, participants drafted an open letter in which they state the following: “Reflecting on the Social Doctrine of the Church, we participants have concluded that the Church cannot simply be a neutral mediator between communities and companies.” This position statement is inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si, in which he writes that “In the present condition of global society,  where injustices abound and growing numbers of people are deprived of basic human rights and considered expendable, the principle of the common good immediately becomes, logically and inevitably, a summons to solidarity and a preferential option for the poorest of our brothers and sisters.” (158)

The Pope’s call for action was repeated as a positive appeal during the “International People’s Conference on Mining” that was held in Manila, Philippines, last July. The conference brought together people directly affected by mining operations as well as organizations and community members concerned by such activities. In the final statement, endorsed by more than 100 individuals and organizations from 29 countries, participants state that they are “bound together by [their] shared desire to work and struggle together for a future, free from the destructive effects of mining activities driven by the interests of large capital and greed for profit.”

In the context of the federal election campaign currently in full swing, you can support our sisters and brothers  negatively affected by Canadian mining operations by making your voice heard on mining issues and the injustices caused by mining activities. You can use resources created by the  Mining Injustice Solidarity Network, which are aimed at putting mining injustice on the foreign policy agenda of the next elected government.

To ensure that mining issues are taken seriously, it is critical that political leaders hear our concerns. Let’s make our voices and those of the Global South heard in large numbers!