NEWS RELEASE: MININGWATCH CANADA – Three of Four Federal Parties Would Introduce Measures to Curtail Abuses of Mining Companies – Conservatives Continue to Lag Behind Canadians’ Expectations

MiningWatch Canada is a pan-Canadian initiative supported by environmental, social justice, Aboriginal and labour organisations from across the country. It addresses the urgent need for a co-ordinated public interest response to the threats to public health, water and air quality, fish and wildlife habitat and community interests posed by irresponsible mineral policies and practices in Canada and around the world. http://www.miningwatch.ca/

(Ottawa – April 12, 2011) MiningWatch Canada commends the Liberals, the NDP and the Green Party for their election platforms that include stronger measures to ensure that Canadian mining companies live up to international human rights and environmental standards in their operations overseas. Harper’s Conservative Party platform offers nothing new.

“It is clear that the Liberals, NDP and the Green Party understand that Canadians expect our mining companies to respect human rights and protect ecosystems that sustain communities, whether they operate in Canada or in developing countries,” says Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada.

Unlike the Conservatives’ platform, the platforms of these three parties refer to the consensus reached by representatives of the extractive industries, labour, academics and civil society in 2007. MiningWatch was a part of the multi-stakeholder advisory group that made recommendations following the National Roundtables on Corporate Social Responsibility and the Extractives Sector.

The Liberal Party commits to adopting standards and creating an independent ombudsman office to investigate complaints against Canadian mining companies, as called for in the 2007 Roundtable Report. The NDP commits to implementing the recommendations of the Roundtable Report, ensuring that mining companies abide by international human rights law and environmental standards when operating overseas, and developing and enforcing sanctions if they do not. And the Green Party says it will introduce a Corporate Social Responsibility Act to regulate the mining industry, requiring the highest environmental practices both in Canada and wherever Canadian companies operate.

“The Harper government has failed to implement the consensus recommendations of industry and civil society of 2007. Strong measures are urgently needed to assure Canadians that our mining companies are living up to international best practices,” says Coumans. “The Conservatives voted unanimously against an important private member’s bill, C-300, that would have provided individuals and communities a chance to have their complaints of mining company abuses investigated in Canada.”

U.S. and European Union governments are passing measures to regulate the activities of mining companies in developing countries, but under the Conservatives, Canada is increasingly an international laggard, rather than a leader. With 75% of the world’s mineral exploration companies registered in Canada, and much of the global capital for mining flowing through these companies, the next government of Canada has a responsibility to live up to Canadians’ expectations of being a positive international presence for ensuring the protection of human rights and the environment.

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For more information contact:
Catherine Coumans, MiningWatch Canada
tel: (613) 569-3439
e-mail catherine@miningwatch.ca

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