Development and Peace is launching a new campaign under the banner A Voice for Justice that is calling on the Government of Canada to establish an independent ombudsman for the Canadian extractive sector that can investigate complaints brought by communities overseas where companies operate.
Development and Peace is launching this campaign in response to reports from mine-affected communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America that are experiencing conflict, pollution, forced displacements and other negative impacts from the presence of Canadian mines.
“There is currently little or no recourse for communities that are facing violations of their rights,” says Michael Casey, Executive Director of Development and Peace. “The laws in their own countries are weak or not enforced. And the mines come at a very high price for these communities, as they are the ones who experience the impacts but gain little from the profits. Having an ombudsman would allow them have their concerns heard by an impartial body who can determine if any violations have taken place.”
Development and Peace has campaigned on this issue before, collecting half a million signatures in support of stronger accountability standards for the Canadian extractive sector, which includes nearly 75 per cent of the world's mining and exploration companies listed on Canadian stock exchanges.
It has revived the call for an ombudsman in light of the increasing number of rights abuses surrounding Canadian mines and the inability of communities to seek any form of justice.
“We are hearing from communities in Madagascar, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Philippines, Peru, Honduras, Indonesia and others. As Canadians who believe in respect for human rights and the environment, we want Canadian companies to reflect these values, no matter where they operate,” adds Casey.
As part of the campaign, Canadians are invited to sign a message to their Member of Parliament asking that an ombudsman be put in place. Other activities will be organized across the country, including a conference on mining for Catholic Church leaders from Canada and the Global South, as well as a travelling photo exhibit.
The campaign will be launched on Monday, September 30th at 10:30 a.m. at the Maison du développement durable in Montreal (50 Ste-Catherine St. W.). The event will begin with a press conference, followed by a photo exhibition and a luncheon.