Where’s Canada’s Human Rights Ombudsperson?

Communities negatively affected by the overseas operations of Canadian extractive-sector companies are waiting for justice.
We're still waiting for the ombudsperson. "The mine took our land and our livelihood." - The Rakotoarimanana family, Madagascar
Canadian Network for Corporate Accountability

As people of faith we affirmed that we live with respect in creation, that “we cherish and respect the diversity of life and celebrate the beauty of the Earth. For us as members of one family, love and caring are the basis of our relationships with one another and with nature.” (One Earth Community, 1992).

For well over a decade, United Church people have been aware of the widespread and credible allegations that Canadian companies are linked to serious human rights abuses overseas. United Church partners call us to respond to the grave injustices faced—environmental degradation, extrajudicial killings, incarceration, militarization, and intimidation of community leaders opposed to government policy. The United Church, as a member of the Canadian Network for Corporate Accountability, was greatly encouraged by the Minister of International Trade’s announcement in January 2018 regarding the creation of a Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Business Enterprise, the first of its kind in the world.

On April 8, 2019, the Canadian government announced the creation and appointment of a Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE). However, they failed to create an independent office equipped with real powers to investigate abuses and redress the harm caused by Canadian companies operating abroad. To be effective, the CORE must be arm’s length from the government and have the power to order those under investigation to produce documents and testimony under oath. The adviser position recently announced has not been granted these necessary powers. More information regarding the limitations of CORE can be found on the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability’s website

Call on Canada to show global leadership and fulfill its promise.

Take Action

1. Call your Member of Parliament and urge them to

  • immediately call the Prime Minister's Office and tell the government to keep its promise to give the ombudsperson full independence, including the power to compel documents and testimony
  • publicly support the immediate establishment of an effective ombudsperson

When you call your MP, remind them that an effective ombudsperson

  • is independent
  • has the tools and mandate to independently investigate, including the power to compel documents and testimony under oath from Canadian companies
  • reports publicly on its findings and recommendations, including for remedy, harm prevention, and reforms

You can find your Member of Parliament's contact information by entering your postal code on the Parliament of Canada website.

2. Join the #Power2Investigate Twitter storm! Mention your member of Parliament in a daily tweet about an effective ombudsperson until that office is in place. Insist the government keep its promise to give the ombuds real #Power2Investigate. You can do this by typing your MP's Twitter username preceded by the "@" symbol. Use the additional hashtags #Open4Justice, #ombuds, and #UCCan; tag the Prime Minister @CanadianPM as well as key members of the cabinet @MinJusticeEn, @cathmckenna, @cafreeland, @SohiAmarjeet, @telfordk, @jimcarr_wpg). Feel free to use these sample tweets.

Don’t tweet? Make it a daily Facebook post, send an e-mail or hand-written letter to your MP, or call them.

3. Share this Take Action on your social media networks. Use the hashtags #UCCan, #open4justice, #ombuds, #power2investigate.


Since 2015, United Church people across the country have been calling on the Canadian government to protect the dignity of human life and the sacredness of creation by creating an independent human rights ombudsperson with the power to hold Canadian mining companies responsible for their overseas operations. They have met with, called, and written to their members of Parliament and the minister of trade. They have done this in response to United Church partners who have also clearly called for the creation of the ombudsperson.

A United Church partner in the Philippines, writing to Prime Minister Trudeau, stated: “The creation of the new ombudsperson office is important not only for our organization, but for indigenous peoples and other communities affected by Canadian mining projects in the country, in bringing the human—and indigenous peoples’—rights violations committed to the attention of the Canadian government.”

Nearly a decade has passed since industry and civil society leaders recommended [pdf on pdac.ca] the Canadian government create such an office. More than 600,000 Canadians and hundreds of civil society organizations from Canada and abroad have since added their voices to the call.

Canada is home to half of the world’s mining and mineral exploration companies. Communities negatively affected by the overseas operations of Canadian extractive-sector companies have been particularly impacted by their negligent extraction activities and are still waiting for justice. In early 2018, United Church partner The Christian Council of Zambia wrote to Prime Minister Trudeau “to appeal to [his] good office to strongly encourage and support the government of Canada to affirm the creation of the office of Human Rights Ombudsperson, being fully aware of the presence and influence of Canadian mining companies operating around the world and in particular in Africa.”

A June 14, 2019 letter from the United Church to Minister of International Trade Diversification Jim Carr states that CORE's current mandate "betrays your government’s commitment to responsible business conduct in light of serious and abundant abuse allegations and disregards Canada’s international obligations to uphold and promote human rights including the obligation to provide effective remedy for victims of abuse. This leaves communities and individuals negatively impacted by Canadian mining companies with little hope of obtaining justice." The full letter is available under Downloads, below.

For more information, see Mining and Resource Extraction.

For more information, contact:

Christie NeufeldtProgram Coordinator, Public Witnesscneufeldt [at] united-church.ca416-231-7680 ext. 4078
1-800-268-3781 ext. 4078