Canada: Concern that Federal Budget does not mention Human Rights Ombudsperson

The Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA), of which Amnesty International Canada is a member, is concerned and disappointed that the 2017 federal budget failed to announce the creation of a human rights ombudsperson for the extractive sector.
Communities, workers, and indigenous peoples outside of Canada whose human rights are impacted by Canadian extractive companies have few options to have their voices heard and their problems remedied. They continue to wait for the Canadian government to address the international corporate accountability gap and to advance human rights around the globe.
“The Government of Canada has said it shares the goal of ensuring that Canadian extractive companies respect the rights of all people, no matter where they operate”, said Moderator Jordan Cantwell of the United Church of Canada. “What we don’t know is why we haven’t yet seen concrete action when a ready-to-go proposal for a human rights ombudsperson has been handed to them.”
“Well-documented, credible allegations of serious human rights abuses associated with Canadian mining, oil and gas companies are widespread and ongoing,” said Alex Neve of Amnesty International Canada. “People are being harmed and the international community is waiting for Canada to take meaningful action; we can wait no longer.”
“The CNCA calls on the Government of Canada to use our model legislation, which mirrors the structure of other Canadian Ombudspersons, to develop an effective extractive sector Ombudsperson,” said Hassan Yussuff of the Canadian Labour Congress. “To be effective the office must be independent, have legally mandated investigatory powers, publicly report on recommendations, remedy, and follow-up, and be oriented to protect human rights.” 
“The absence in Budget 2017 of any reference to business and human rights, let alone an ombudsperson, is glaring,” said Emily Dwyer of the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability. “Over 100,000 Canadians and hundreds of organizations from Canada and around the world have called on Canada to act. Yet, since the federal election there has been no demonstrable shift in Canada’s human rights policy when it comes to the extractive sector.”
“The establishment of a human rights ombudsperson for the international extractive sector is a necessary prerequisite to achieving the federal government’s aim of global leadership and is consistent with a human rights approach to development and with a feminist foreign policy,” said Julia Sanchez of the Canadian Council on International Co-operation. “It would also be instrumental to Canadian efforts to obtain a seat on the United Nations Security Council.”
Media contacts:
Emily Dwyer, Coordinator, Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability – // cell: 819-592-6657
Quick facts:
1. Canada is home to over 55% of the world’s largest extractive companies, which have a presence in more than 100 countries. The Canadian government actively supports and finances the activities of Canadian mining, oil and gas companies overseas. In 2016, EDC provided between $14 and $28 billion into oil & gas companies worldwide.
2. There are widespread, well-documented human rights abuses associated with the operations of Canadian mining companies operating overseas and conflicts are on the rise. In 2015 and 2016 over 400 cases of attacks on defenders focusing on corporate accountability took place and Canada has been singled out as one of three countries home to a large number of offending companies.
3. Canada has attracted significant international attention as a result of human rights abuses linked to its international extractive sector by both United Nations and regional bodies, as well as by organizations and communities around the world. Existing voluntary dispute mechanisms in Canada are neither credible nor effective.  
4. In 2015, the Liberal Party of Canada committed to create an independent ombudsperson office. In November 2016, the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability launched model legislation that serves as a blueprint for the government to create an independent human rights ombudsperson for the international extractive sector in Canada.
5. The CNCA brings together 30 environmental, human rights, religious, labour and solidarity groups from across Canada. We represent the concerns of millions of Canadians from coast to coast to coast. We are connected with communities, workers, Indigenous peoples, environmental and human rights defenders from around the world.