BRIEF TO THE HOUSE OF COMMONS STANDING COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN SUPPORT OF BILL C-300, THE CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY OF MINING, OIL AND GAS CORPORATIONS IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES ACT
SUMMARY OF BILL C-300 AND AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL’S POSITION ON THE PROPOSED LAW
Bill C-300, the Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act was a private member’s bill first introduced in the House of Commons in February 2009. Bill C-300 proposed to increase levels of accountability and oversight in Canada for the operations of Canadian extractive companies operating abroad. It would do so by directing the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to issue guidelines that articulate corporate accountability standards for Canadian extractive companies consistent with international human rights instruments, norms, and standards. Bill C-300 also enabled the Minsters to receive complaints regarding Canadian companies engaged in extractive activities from any Canadian citizen or permanent resident, or any resident or citizen of a developing country in which such activities have occurred or are occurring. Finally, the bill introduced a strong accountability mechanism in Canadian law for companies who breach the corporate accountability guidelines.
Amnesty International provided a brief in strong support of Bill C-300 to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. Amnesty International has long been concerned about the impact that some companies and other economic actors have on human rights. Unfortunately, Canadian companies are often implicated in the violation of human rights in the context of their extractive operations outside of Canada. In their desire to fuel their own economic growth, many states are failing to protect their populations from the negative human rights impacts of multinational business ventures. Instances where Canadian mining, oil, and gas companies become directly or indirectly implicated in instances involving serious human rights violations around the world are causing many Canadians deep concern and reflect poorly on Canada’s international reputation.
In our brief, Amnesty International argued that Bill C-300 would make Canada a global leader in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practices, and serve as model legislation for other countries. Bill C-300 would serve a stepping-stone towards corporate accountability for Canadian companies from any sector, operating anywhere in the world. As a result, we strongly encouraged the government to make the bill law.
STATUS OF BILL
Disappointingly, Bill C-300 was narrowly defeated in a vote by the House of Commons in October 2010. All government MPs at the time voted against it. In doing so, the government of Canada missed an important opportunity to protect the human rights of the many individuals in foreign country affected by the extractive operations of Canadian companies.