Liberal MP confronts minister over new watchdog to supervise Canadian firms overseas

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A veteran Liberal backbencher took a Liberal cupboard minister to activity Tuesday for failing to provide actual tooth to a brand new watchdog who is meant to analyze human rights abuses by Canadian firms working overseas.

Toronto MP John McKay has for many years campaigned for simply such a watchdog.

However he believes the just lately created place of Canadian Ombudsperson for Accountable Enterprise falls wanting what’s wanted as a result of the watchdog has not been given the ability to compel firm executives to testify or to supply paperwork.

McKay took his criticism on to Mary Ng, minister of small enterprise, export promotion and worldwide commerce, throughout a Home of Commons committee assembly Tuesday.

“You and I have exchanged correspondence and had quite a number of conversations about this issue and, to put it delicately, we don’t agree,” he instructed Ng.

Whereas there have been some enhancements in company social accountability, McKay mentioned some firms are “pretty bad actors” who aren’t going to voluntarily change their methods or co-operate with the ombudsperson, Sheri Meyerhoffer.

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He raised for instance an ongoing court docket case involving Nevsun, a Canadian mining firm that has been accused of utilizing slave labour and different human rights violations at its mine in Eritrea.

Ng says workplace has ample instruments

Ng maintained that Meyerhoffer has ample instruments to do her job successfully: she will be able to examine complaints, disgrace firms by publicly reporting her findings and advocate that they be minimize off from authorities providers, comparable to consular help or monetary help from Export Growth Canada.

Meyerhoffer herself has testified at committee that she has the instruments to do the job successfully, together with the ability to provoke investigations, Ng argued.

“But you’d have to agree that it’s going to be a limited investigation because the key people, the key documents, the key executives cannot be compelled to come before the ombudsperson,” McKay countered, questioning how she would be capable to produce a “useful report” beneath these circumstances.

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“So we are in the unhappy situation of having the Canadian courts protect human rights abroad.”

If an organization doesn’t co-operate with an investigation, Ng mentioned the ombudsperson can advocate to the federal government that it withdraw commerce advocacy providers for that firm.

McKay’s criticism was echoed by opposition members of the committee.

New Democrat MP Heather McPherson, who has a background in worldwide growth, mentioned she has seen “on the ground what Canadian mining companies have done in countries around the world and it’s quite devastating.”

She famous {that a} report commissioned by the federal government concluded: “it was vital that the ombudsperson have the powers to compel witnesses and documents.”

Ng identified that the ombudsperson is a brand new workplace and mentioned the federal government “would be absolutely open to review” its powers after giving it a while to see the way it capabilities.

“Let me be clear. I expect Canadian companies to uphold human rights, I expect Canadian companies to be good actors on the global stage,” Ng mentioned.

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