NDP MPs Introduce Private Members Bills to Improve Canadian Corporate Accountability Abroad

OTTAWA – Two federal New Democrats tabled legislation on Tuesday that would make Canadian companies more liable for human rights abuses and environmental damage overseas.

At a press conference, NDP MP Peter Julian said Bill C-262 would create legal tools, giving victims of human rights abuses by Canadian companies overseas a remedy in Canadian courts.

NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson says Bill C-263 would give the corporate accountability watchdog the power and teeth to investigate corporate wrongdoing. Canadian.

The bill would also allow the agency to compel witnesses and testimony, McPherson said.

The Liberal government appointed Canada’s first Responsible Business Ombudsman in 2019.

Some critics said the watchdog doesn’t have the right tools or powers to hold Canadian companies abroad to account.

Private members’ bills rarely become law, particularly if they are introduced by opposition parties, but MPs stressed the importance of such measures.

“It’s absolutely essential. We have seen Canadian corporations linked to appalling and atrocious human rights abuses,” Julian said of Bill C-262.

“If Canadian companies are not accountable, there is often no established, independent or uncorrupted legal and policing system to ensure that victims actually receive the justice they so deserve.

Canadian mining companies often locate in countries with weak democracy and weak human rights protections, McPherson said.

“Workers and communities are violated.”

Bea Bruske, president of the Canadian Labor Congress, said the bills “hit the right targets, and we celebrate this milestone.”

“We are all aware of the horrific burden of needless human suffering around the world and the tremendous stress our natural environment is under. Canadian companies should not add to these burdens,” said Catherine Coumans, Research Coordinator at MiningWatch Canada.

“It is time for Canada to stop dithering, give in to lobbying by the mining industry and implement the private members’ bills that were introduced today.

There was no immediate response to requests for comment from the ombudsman, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly’s office or Global Affairs Canada.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on March 29, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of Meta and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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