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Corporate Accountability

    January 29, 2021

    Climate change is not only the great environmental emergency of our time, but also an unprecedented human rights crisis. It threatens a wide range of human rights, including the rights to water, to health and to life itself. Unfortunately, some of our current technology-focused climate solutions, such as electric vehicles or solar power, threaten those rights. The shift to electric vehicles and renewable energy is essential for the fight against the climate crisis, but must not come at the cost of further human rights abuses or environmental harms. 

    This February, Amnesty International Canada embarks on a year-long project to bring awareness to these issues and to call on Canada to put human rights and Indigenous knowledges at the centre of climate justice and decarbonization initiatives.

    January 07, 2021

    Three years ago, in January 2018, the government announced that it would create an independent office with the power to investigate. Instead, in April 2019, it unveiled a powerless advisory post called the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE). The CORE is little different from what has already existed for years and is ill-equipped to address human rights abuses linked to Canadian companies operating overseas.

    At the time, the Canadian government said that the promised powers to independently investigate would need to wait a little longer – until the results of an external legal review were made public, in just a few weeks’ time. Fast forward more than 18 months later and the report remains buried and the office of the CORE remains powerless.

    Then in late November 2020, the office of the Minister of Small Business, Export Development and International Trade cemented the CORE’s fate, informing our coalition (the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability) that Canada will not give the CORE the promised powers to compel documents and testimony after all. This is outrageous!

    November 05, 2020

     

    Workers in the home delivery business were already facing precarious labor conditions before the COVID-19 pandemic. A lack of basic protections for ‘gig economy’ workers in warehouses and home delivery roles has taken on a new urgency as the very workers who ensure that food, medicines, and other essential goods are shipped out on time and delivered to your door are exposed to greater risks to their own health and safety.  

    Amnesty’s new global campaign calls on the most powerful companies in the home delivery sector, starting with Amazon, to guarantee the rights of workers, including health, safety, and labor rights, such as the right to join a union.  

    Why Amazon?  

    September 27, 2020
    Amnesty International’s Ethical Battery Project aims to end human rights violations in the production of rechargeable batteries.

    It may surprise you to know that lithium-ion batteries – the kind found in many electronics such as laptops, cell phones and electric cars – contribute to human rights abuses around the world. Over the last few years, Amnesty’s researchers have documented child labour, environmental harms and violations of the rights of Indigenous peoples in the countries where battery minerals are mined. We have challenged the world's leading electronics and automobile makers to develop a battery untainted by human rights abuses.

    We invite you to join our campaign for an ‘ethical’ rechargeable battery.

    August 20, 2020

    In 2019 the Canadian government appointed an Ombudsperson to ensure justice and remedy for individuals and communities harmed by Canadian mining, oil, gas and garment companies operating overseas. However, the Canadian government failed to give the Ombudsperson the powers needed to conduct effective investigations (for example, the Ombudsperson cannot compel corporate disclosure). Without an effective Ombudsperson, the individuals and communities who seek justice for allegations of murder, sexual violence, dispossession from their land, dangerous and exploitative working conditions, poisoning of land and water, and other human rights abuses, will continue to be unable to have their voices heard in Canada.

    July 30, 2020
    Lake Quesnel - Not Forgotten

    In the six years since the Mount Polley tailings pond burst through its containment dam, a small group of committed community and Indigenous activists have inspired people across Canada to take action in solidarity with them. Their goal is to call everyone to justice who made decisions that led to the disaster on August 4, 2014. 

    They also want the Province of British Columbia to suspend the company’s permit to pipe mine waste-water directly into Quesnel Lake. Since April, thousands of Amnesty activists have signed our petition to the BC government calling on them to pull the discharge pipes from Quesnel Lake.  

    Scientists researching the impacts of the disaster on Quesnel Lake tell us the pressure is working: the province recently re-started a water testing group to investigate troubling reports of ongoing contamination of the lake. 

    But more than ever, pressure is needed to protect Quesnel Lake from further contamination. 

    July 06, 2020

    As Israel steps up construction of illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), in brazen defiance of international law, Amnesty International is calling on TripAdvisor to urgently remove its listings in settlements and send a clear message that it will no longer contribute to human rights violations.

    On June 25, Amnesty International submitted a petition to TripAdvisor’s CEO Stephen Kaufer, signed by more than 300,000 people from around the world, calling on the company to pull out of illegal settlements. The company has not responded to Amnesty International’s requests for comment.

    “Israeli settlements violate international law and amount to war crimes. Companies which operate in the settlements are contributing to human rights violations and tacitly supporting Israel’s policy of forcing Palestinians out of their homes and crushing their basic rights,” said Saleh Higazi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    June 28, 2020
    The Right to a Healthy Environment: An Update on Quesnel Lake and the Mount Polley Disaster

    Many of us are looking forward to the late summer when physical distancing measures may ease and we can begin to venture out again to our favorite campsites, cabins, and fishing spots. Last August, I spent a week in British Columbia’s Cariboo region when I led a caravan of kids and adults from Vancouver’s lower mainland to the shores of Quesnel Lake in Secwepemc traditional territory.

    Over that August long weekend, we joined dozens of residents and their supporters to celebrate the community’s resilience over the five long years since the Mount Polley mine disaster of August 2014. 

    June 22, 2020

    By Dominic Twomey, Campaigner, Amnesty's Business and Human Rights Team (International Secretariat)

    On Tuesday 23 June, the UK Supreme Court will hear an appeal into the case “Okpabi and others (Appellants) v Royal Dutch Shell Plc and another (Respondents).”  The communities represent over 40,000 Nigerians from the Niger Delta and argue that they have been badly affected by oil spills from oil pipelines owned and operated by Shell.  The devastating effect on the ecology of the Niger Delta and its citizens has been well documented and in 2011, a United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report recommended an urgent clean-up, but to date, no clean-up has taken place.

    May 27, 2020
    Cracks in the “Canada Brand”: profit before people creates high-risk conditions for communities made vulnerable by the pandemic 

    Workers’ concerns ignored at Canadian meat packing plants and hundreds made sick. Amazon employees fired for speaking out about conditions on warehouse floors. Energy workers expected to continue working despite outbreaks at mine sites and an inability to physically distance. Construction workers unable to wash their hands on the job because there is no running water. Mining considered an essential service that employs workers from across the country while small communities struggle to keep away visitors. These are some of the dire stories being shared across Canada as the pandemic reveals the impact of business decisions on workers and communities. While the situation varies from community to community, and some companies have taken steps to suspend operations in order to protect workers and communities, there is growing concern that not all companies are truly respecting human rights through this crisis.

    April 24, 2020

    Today marks the seven-year anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory building in Bangladesh, which tragically left more than 1,100 workers dead and thousands more injured. Covid-19 has created new threats to the lives and livelihoods of garment workers.

    Standing in solidarity with Bangladesh garment sector workers, and with garment sector workers in all countries, Amnesty International joins Canadian labour and civil society organizations in urging Canadian brands, retailers, and the Canadian government, to address workers rights.

    Here is our joint statement:

    Protect the women who make our clothes: Canada’s unions and civil society organizations call for action

    Seven years after the tragic Rana Plaza building collapse, Bangladesh garment sector workers now confront even more risk and vulnerability in the fight against Covid-19.

    Canada’s unions and civil society organizations are calling for immediate relief for workers and protection of rights in global supply chains.

    April 17, 2020

    The Month of Action for Mining Justice is an opportunity to deepen your understanding of mining justice and to take action in solidarity with mining-affected communities.  

    Although we derive many benefits from mining, it is absolutely crucial that the mining industry adhere to international human rights standards. Too often, we hear of human rights abuses related to mining, including: forced labour; child labour; people threatened, harmed, raped or killed for opposing mining projects; unsafe working conditions; toxic contamination of water; people forcibly evicted from their homes; a lack of respect for Indigenous rights; and more.

    On May 14th  join us for a mining justice webinar and hear directly from people whose lives have been negatively impacted by Canadian-owned mines in Asia, Africa and South America and who are fighting for justice.

    During the webinar, we will also launch a parliamentary e-petition. By signing the petition and sharing it with your contacts you can help us convince the Canadian government to hold Canadian companies accountable for human rights abuses overseas.

    April 11, 2020
    Protecting communities, supporting workers and their families should be Canada's priority

    The global pandemic is a frightening time for humanity. Yet all around us, people are working hard to adapt to our current reality, support one another, protect the vulnerable, and together dream of a better future. In urging all levels of government to respect human rights and protect essential workers and their families, frontline healthcare workers, and communities, we are speaking together with one, unified voice. 

    People across Canada living in remote, rural and Indigenous communities with lesser access to health services, hospital beds and crucially, ventilators to help the critically ill, are calling on all of us to help them shut down the known pathways of infection into their communities.  They are asking us to help them stay healthy by staying away. 

    March 11, 2020
    Quesnel Lake/Yuct Ne Senxiymetkwe: a Love Story 

    Christine McLean is ready to retire. After running a successful electrical business in Calgary for the last 20 years, the Kamloops, BC born and raised McLean planned to move back to BC with her husband, Eric. In 2014 they began laying plans to spend their retirement years living in what Christine describes as, “paradise” – a gorgeous log cabin on a large, treed lot perched above the stunningly beautiful Mitchell Bay on Quesnel Lake. For Christine, it is a place for the spirit to rest and the heart to soar.

    For Secwepemc and Nuxalk activist Nuskmata (Jacinda Mack), Quesnel Lake is part of her cultural heritage. Raised in the northern Secwepemc community of Xat’sull, Nuskamata spent her youth out on the land and eventually came to work for her Secwepemc community as the Natural Resources manager. Her mother taught her that for Indigenous peoples, “our economy walks on the land and swims in the waters.” She calls the relationship between her community and the land a ‘love story’. 

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