As it stands now, Canada protects its citizens who work outside of our country but does not offer that same protection for those non-Canadians who work for Canadian companies.
Ottawa (29 April 2019) — The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has added its name to a long list of supporters of Bill C-331, An Act to amdend the Federal Courts Act (international promotion and protection of human rights) in a letter to the Prime Minister. The bill, submitted by Peter Julian, NDP MP for New Westminster-Burnaby, will be coming up in the House of Commons for the first hour of debate at 2nd reading on April 29.
Canada needs to be a leader in protecting human rights at home and abroad
"We are urging the federal government to adopt this bill in order to allow Canada to continue its role as a protector of human rights, at home and internationally," said Larry Brown, NUPGE President.
The bill is based on growing concerns about how Canadian companies conduct themselves while abroad. As the letter to the Prime Minister reads, "It is our belief that Canada must promote values of respect, social justice, environmental protection, and respect for human rights abroad."
The fact that Canada is home to many of the world's mining and exploration companies puts our government in a perfect position to ensure that corporate Canada adheres to the values of fairness and equality, and respects the rights of Indigenous peoples, labour, environmental and human rights.
Bill C-331 would create the ability for non-Canadians to sue corporations for rights violations
As it stands now, Canada protects its citizens who work outside of our country but does not offer that same protection for those non-Canadians who work for Canadian companies. In fact, few concrete, effective enforcement mechanisms exist to protect the human rights of people in foreign countries. Bill C-331 fills the need for the victims of itnernational rights violations when no forum is available to them in the country where the violations take place. The bill would provide international communities with the possibility to pursue legal recourse in Canada's federal courts for violations of human rights, such as the following:
- degrading treatment
- arbitrary arrest
- infliction of emotional distress
- war crimes
- extrajudicial execution
- illegal detention
This bill would allow federal courts to hear and decide claims for violations of international law that occur outside of Canada. Creating this legal framework would allow non-Canadians to sue Canadian companies, within the Canadian justice system, for violating the rights of Indigenous peoples, international labour, environmental and basic human rights outside of the country.
International accountability necessary
"We already know of too many instances where companies have used socially and environmentally destructive practices in other countries to increase their own profits," said Brown. He added, "Our legislation has not kept pace with the new realities of foreign business operations and the need for international accountability for victims. This legislation will provide a legitimate avenue to take action against corporations who operate in such pernicious ways."
"The federal government needs to put its words into action," said Brown. "A government that advocates for gender equality, Indigenous peoples' rights, labour, environmental and human rights cannot shirk its responsibility to defend those same rights for others. We hope the Prime Minister and his government hear our message, and support this legislation."
What you can do
You can add your voice to the growing number of supporters of Bill C-331 by writing a letter to your Member of Parliament and the Prime Minister.
You can also sign and share this petition urging the government to support Bill C-331.
Read the full letter
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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