Parliament's defeat this week of a private member's bill to improve corporate accountability by Canadian mining companies operating in developing countries is a huge step backward for human rights and for Canada on the international scene.
Ottawa (29 Oct. 2010) - Bill C-300, known as the Responsible Mining Bill, was a private member's bill from Liberal MP John McKay.
The bill featured modest accountability measures for corporations engaged in mining, oil or gas activities and receiving support from the government of Canada.
Corporations would be held accountable if they failed to act in a manner consistent with international best practices and human rights standards.
"Through our long-term international connections, we have witnessed the negligence and abuse that some Canadian mining companies use to exploit workers, communities and degrade the environment in developing countries," said Ken Neumann, National Director for Canada of the United Steelworkers.
Under Bill C-300, companies found not to be in compliance with international standards would not receive financing and insurance through Export Development Canada or support from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
Unfortunately, the Bill was defeated in the House of Commons earlier this week after a fierce lobbying blitz by mining firms and after a number of Liberal MPs, including Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, did not show up to vote.
The absence of many Liberal members from the House during Wednesday's vote "made the difference between accountability and exploitation," Neumann said.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE