by Madelaine Drohan
CIPS Policy Brief No. 7, January 2010

  • The federal government has struggled for 10 years to come up with a mechanism to ensure that all Canadian mining companies respect and support economic, environmental and social human rights in their operations abroad.
  • Having rejected a hard-won consensus between mining companies and their critics on a workable accountability framework, the government has come forward with an inadequate response that still leaves people in developing countries vulnerable to abuse without redress, allows responsible companies to be tarred along with the guilty, and tarnishes Canada’s image abroad.
  • While Canada has basically stood still for a decade, much research and thinking has been done internationally, especially by John Ruggie, the UN special representative on business and human rights. The government should use his detailed suggestions for business, expected in 2011, as the foundation for a more useful and comprehensive policy.

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Madelaine Drohan is an award-winning author and journalist who has covered business, economics and politics in Canada, Europe and Africa. She is currently the Ottawa correspondent for The Economist.