As people of faith, we are called to protect the dignity of human life and the sacredness of creation. Help lift up the voices of vulnerable communities affected by Canadian mining companies overseas.

With projects in over 100 countries, Canada is home to half of the world’s mining companies. Canadian companies can be viewed as representatives of Canada abroad; however, United Church partners in the global South report human rights abuses, environmental damage, and violations of basic labour rights. Affected communities advocate for stronger laws in their own countries, but enforcement is often weak and violations occur with impunity (see "Talk is Not Enough" on the Canadian Network for Corporate Accountability (CNCA) website).

The Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability is calling for an independent Human Rights Ombudsperson with the power to hold Canadian mining companies responsible for their overseas operations. According to the CNCA’s draft model legislation, an effective Ombudsperson will have the following traits:

  • Independence, integrity, and fairness
  • Empowered to conduct effective investigations
  • Required to report publicly
  • Publicly reports recommendations for remedy
  • Engages in monitoring and follow-up

See the infographic “Criteria for an Effective Ombudsperson” on the CNCA’s website.

People around the world are calling on Canada to hold our companies to account. Do your part to make Canada Open for Justice.

Take Action

  1. Write to Hon. François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of International Trade. Ask Minister Champagne to champion the CNCA’s model Ombudsperson legislation. You can send an automated message through KAIROS Canada’s website or send your own personal letter.
  2. Follow up by contacting your member of Parliament—and encourage others to do so too. A personalized letter can be an effective tool for change, and your MP will take notice when you relate the issue to how it affects their constituency. Ideas to help craft a personal letter are available under Downloads, below. You can find your MP’s e-mail or postal address by entering your postal code on the Parliament of Canada website.

    Ask your MP to

    • publicly support the creation of an effective Ombudsperson with the five traits listed above
    • ask the Minister of International Trade, Hon. François-Philippe Champagne, to champion the CNCA’s model ombudsperson legislation
    • report back to you on what Minister Freeland tells them
  3. Request a meeting with your MP and ask them to publicly support this cause. Ask your MP to take a picture with you, and then post it on social media with a few words about your meeting. Use the hashtags #UCCan and #Open4Justice. Some talking points for your MP meeting are available under Downloads, below.
  4. Share this action through your social media networks. Use the hashtags #UCCan and #Open4Justice. Sample posts and tweets:
    • Support model legislation for an effective ombudsperson for Canadian mining companies.
    • Contact your MP to ask for an effective extractive sector ombudsperson. We need your support.
    • Canada needs an effective extractive sector ombudsperson to end #humanrights abuses overseas.
  5. Share what you are up to (no action is too small!). It’s vital to that we hear what’s happening. E-mail cneufeldt [at] united-church.ca (Christie Neufeldt )or tweet @JusticeUCC.

Background

Canada, as home to half of the world’s mining and mineral exploration companies, should be a leader in corporate accountability in the extractive sector. Canadian law has not kept pace with the globalization of the mining industry.

Currently the Canadian government addresses reports of extractive-sector violations with two mechanisms: the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Counsellor, and Canada's Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's National Contact Point (OECD NCP). With both of these mechanisms, the participation of the extractive-sector companies is voluntary and complaints are never made public. These ineffective mechanisms do not address the problems that harm communities, and repeated human rights violations occur.

An independent Human Rights Ombudsperson would investigate allegations and make recommendations to the mining companies and the Canadian government. This Ombudsperson would be independent of political or corporate influence and accountable to Canadians through public reporting. They would play an important role in protecting human rights internationally and improving the performance and reputation of Canada’s extractive sector.

Since 2013, over 100,000 Canadians have called on the government to take action on this issue through the CNCA’s Open for Justice Campaign. Canadians are responding in such great numbers because current policy does not prevent wrongdoing and does not reflect Canadian values.

Send your letters or e-mails to:

Hon. François-Philippe Champagne
Minister of International Trade
Francois-Philippe.Champagne [at] parl.gc.ca

Hon. Gerry Ritz
Conservative Party of Canada
gerry.ritz [at] parl.gc.ca

Tracey Ramsey
New Democratic Party
Tracey.Ramsey [at] parl.gc.ca

Gabriel Ste-Marie
Bloc Québécois
Gabriel.Ste-Marie [at] parl.gc.ca

Elizabeth May
Green Party
Elizabeth.May [at] parl.gc.ca

For more information, contact:

Christie NeufeldtProgram Coordinator, Public Witness416-231-7680 ext. 4078
1-800-268-3781 ext. 4078
cneufeldt [at] united-church.ca