Now is the time for Canada to put people and the planet first

According to the federal Minister of Natural Resources and the President and CEO of the Mining Association of Canada, in an editorial they co-wrote, the green energy transition is the right time for Canada’s mining sector. Province May 31.

The government and the mining sector are betting on Canada’s mineral deposits of cobalt, graphite, lithium and nickel, necessary for the manufacture of batteries for electric vehicles, solar panels, wind turbines, etc. to help the country’s decarbonization efforts.

“We are building on our strengths, recognizing that the road to a low-emissions future is paved with clean technology and that minerals and metals will provide the materials we need,” wrote Minister Seamus O’Regan and the President and CMA CEO Pierre Gratton.

One of Canada’s weaknesses, however, is corporate accountability. vis à vis human rights and environmental protection. While the Canadian government and mining sector spokespersons speak of inclusive growth and partnership with Indigenous communities, actions speak louder than words.

If Canada is to be a green economy leader in addressing the climate emergency, the federal government must address the lack of mandatory and enforceable corporate accountability measures, which have had devastating consequences – to within and beyond the Canadian border.

For example, four tailings dam breaches in British Columbia and Brazil, including at the Mount Polley mine, have occurred in the past seven years, all related to Canadian companies. These cases of corporate wrongdoing have displaced hundreds of people, destroyed entire habitats and polluted freshwater sources. To date, the federal government has not imposed any consequences on these companies.

The Office of the Canadian Ombudsman for Responsible Business, which the Canadian government staffed in 2019 to examine allegations of human rights and corporate environmental violations in overseas operations, has failed no mandate to demand evidence, which makes it ineffective.

In addition, free, prior and informed consent as stipulated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has not always been obtained by mining companies before proceeding with mining. Businesses tend to confuse consultation with consent, a manipulative tactic that rejects Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and which Indigenous women say repeatedly excludes them from decision-making spaces.

The gender impacts of resource extraction are alarming. Gender-based violence and Canada’s extractive sector are closely linked, according to sources like the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. As we have seen in recent struggles for land, women conservationists, whether in British Columbia or Brazil, are too often criminalized and / or threatened by public and private safety.

And environmental violations have been rampant, according to affected communities across the South, where women typically bear the brunt of corporate misconduct in the most acute way.

This lack of corporate responsibility undermines Canada’s international development, such as the Feminist International Assistance Policy.

Opinion: Mining of Canadian mineral deposits will help boost Canada’s decarbonization efforts. But in doing so, the country must uphold corporate responsibility and protect human rights, writes Gabriela Jiménez @kairoscanada. #UNDRIP #climate

“All that (extractive companies) think about is the profit,” said Sonia guajajara, an indigenous Brazilian activist, environmentalist and politician. “They don’t care how they are going to affect our identities or the environment because they don’t really care about the future.”

There are several complementary avenues that Canada must take to defend human rights and the environment against Canadian corporate misconduct.

One is to implement appeals for justice, especially appeals to extractive and development industries, in the final MMIWG2S investigation report.

Another is for the federal government to follow the advice of its own parliamentary subcommittee on international human rights and empower the Canadian ombudsman for responsible business, as well as enact mandatory human rights legislation. the person and environmental due diligence.

On May 31, the same day that the “Mining Moment” editorial was published, the Canadian Network on Corporate Responsibility published the Law on Respect for Human Rights and the Environment Abroad by companies, a due diligence bill that would oblige companies – based in Canada and operating abroad or those who sell goods in Canada – and their business partners to prevent human rights violations and environment and exercise due diligence. The law would include important consequences for companies that cause damage and / or fail to exercise due diligence.

While the Green Revolution may be the time for mining, it must also be the time for Canada to put the health and well-being of all people and ecosystems first. Such leadership requires the federal government to impose legally binding accountability measures, which by default require clearer boundaries between state and private institutions, such as the Mining Association of Canada.

Gabriela Jiménez has worked as Partnerships Coordinator for Latin America at KAIROS since 2018, where she coordinates Mother Earth and Resource Extraction: Women Defending Land and Water, a digital center on the gender impacts of resource extraction.

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