Open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

See: "Academics urge an extractive industry ombudsperson. Will Trudeau listen?"

March 14, 2017

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

cc: The Honourable Chrystia Freeland
The Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
We, the undersigned professors, call on the Canadian government to enact legislation to establish a credible and effective independent ombudsperson to investigate and hear complaints about Canadian extractive companies operating abroad. The Liberal party made this commitment during the election campaign.

There is now a proposal before your government to bring in legislation that would give an ombudsperson powers similar to other bodies, such as the Privacy Commissioner and the Information Commissioner. The proposed ombudsperson would have the power to: investigate allegations of human rights harm by Canadian extractive companies; recommend conditioning government support on corporate respect for human rights; and to recommend remedies for victims of such harm. It would also have the power to monitor subsequent corporate conduct and follow up on compliance with such remedies.

Importantly, the proposed mechanism would meet the requirements of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights for non-judicial grievance mechanisms. It would comply with the principles of legitimacy, accessibility, predictability, equitability, transparency, rights-compatibility and being a source of continuous learning.

Canada is home to 75% of the world’s largest mining and exploration companies as well as many medium to large-sized oil & gas companies. Many of these companies operate in the developing world. In 2009 a report, commissioned by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, found that of 171 high profile incidents involving mining companies over the last decade, 34 per cent of the implicated companies were Canadian. These incidents involved conflict with local communities, environmental and human rights abuses, as well as unethical behaviour. The report also noted that Canadian companies were involved in four times as many incidents as their closest peers in Australia and the UK. A 2016 report of the Justice and Corporate Accountability Project at Osgoode Hall Law School documented 100 incidents of violence associated with Canadian extractive companies operating in Latin America between 2000 and 2015.

Canada’s Enhanced CSR Strategy signals a recognition of these problems. The ombudsperson legislation is the next logical step, and an essential one in addressing extractive company conduct abroad. The creation of an ombudsperson must be undertaken together with reforms to strengthen Canada’s OECD National Contact Point, which are long overdue. UN treaty bodies, as well as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, have all called on your government to regulate Canadian extractive companies operating abroad. Other states have recognized the need to ‘step up’ and Canada is lagging behind. Just a few weeks ago, the French Parliament voted to require large French companies to publish ‘due diligence’ plans that demonstrate the steps they are taking to prevent human rights abuses in their operations and supply chains.

We applaud your government’s commitment to the international protection and promotion of human rights. Enacting the proposed ombudsperson legislation would be a significant first step toward ensuring that neither Canadian extractive companies nor the Canadian economy profit from human rights abuses and other harms committed in other countries.

 

Signed:

Penelope Simons
Associate Professor
Faculty of Law/Faculté de droit
Common Law Section/Section de common law
University of Ottawa/Université d’Ottawa
psimons@uottawa.ca

Shin Imai
Associate Professor
Osgoode Hall Law School
York University
simai@osgoode.yorku.ca

Charis Kamphuis
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Law
Thompson Rivers University
ckamphuis@tru.ca

Richard Janda
Associate Professor
Faculty of Law and Associate Member of the McGill School of Environment
McGill University

Audrey Macklin
Director, Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies 
Chair in Human Rights Law
University of Toronto

Sara Seck
Associate Professor
Western Law
University of Western Ontario

Chris Tollefson
Professor
Faculty of Law
University of Victoria

Jennie Abell
Professor
Faculty of Law/Faculté de droit
Common Law Section/Section de common law
University of Ottawa/Université d’Ottawa

Sharry Aiken
Associate Professor
Faculty of Law
Queen’s University

Nigel Bankes
Professor and Chair of Natural Resources Law
Faculty of Law
University of Calgary

Margaret E. Beare
Professor Law and Sociology
York University

Adelle Blackett
Professor of Law & Canada Research Chair in Transnational Labour Law and Development Professeure de droit titulaire de la Chaire de recherche du Canada en Droit transnational du travail et développement
Faculté de droit/Faculty of Law 
Université McGill University

Angela Cameron
Associate Professor
Shirley Greenberg Professor of Women in the Legal Profession
Faculty of Law/Faculté de droit
Common Law Section/Section de common law
University of Ottawa/Université d’Ottawa

Bonnie Campbell
Professor
Faculty of Political Science and Law
Université du Québec à Montréal

Eduardo Canel
Associate Professor
Director, Graduate Program in Development Studies
Department of Social Science
Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies
York University

Vincent Caron
Professeur
Section de droit civil / Civil Law Section
Faculté de droit / Faculty of Law
Université d'Ottawa / University of Ottawa

Nathalie Chalifour
Associate Professor
Centre for Environmental Law and Global Sustainability
Faculty of Law/Faculté de droit
Common Law Section/Section de common law
University of Ottawa/Université d’Ottawa

Lynda Collins
Centre for Environmental Law & Global Sustainability
Faculty of Law/Faculté de droit
Common Law Section/Section de common law
University of Ottawa/Université d’Ottawa

Deborah Curran
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law and School of Environmental Studies
Acting Executive Director, Environmental Law Centre
University of Victoria

Aaron A. Dhir
Associate Professor
Osgoode Hall Law School
York University

Meinhard Doelle
Professor of Law & Associate Dean, Research
Schulich School of Law
Dalhousie University

Patricia Doyle Bedwell
Associate Professor
Indigenous Studies
College of Continuing Education
Dalhousie University

Peter R Elson
Adjunct Assistant Professor
School of Public Administration|University of Victoria and
Senior Research Fellow
Institute for Community Prosperity
Mount Royal University

Gail Fraser
Associate Professor
Faculty of Environmental Studies
York University

Isabel Grant
Professor
Allard School of Law
University of British Columbia

Julia Grignon
Professeure adjointe
Codirectrice de la Clinique de droit international pénal et humanitaire
Codirectrice du Centre international de recherche sur l'Afrique et le Moyen Orient
Université Laval

Ricardo Grinspun
Associate Professor
Department of Economics
Fellow, Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC)
Coordinator, International Development Studies Program
York University

Vanessa Gruben

Associate Professor
Faculty of Law/Faculté de droit
Common Law Section/Section de common law
University of Ottawa/Université d’Ottawa

Kregg Hetherington
Associate Professor
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Concordia University

Allan C. Hutchinson
Distinguished Research Professor
Osgoode Hall Law School
York University

Martha Jackman
Professor
Faculté de droit/Faculty of Law
Section de common law/ Common Law Section
Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa

Rebecca Johnson
Professor
Faculty of Law
University of Victoria

F. Tim Knight
Associate Librarian
Osgoode Hall Law School
York University

Freya Kodar
Associate Professor
Faculty of Law
University of Victoria

Fannie Lafontaine
Professeure titulaire
Faculté de droit
Université Laval

François J Larocque
Associate Professor
Doyen par intérim | Interim Dean
Faculté de droit/Faculty of Law
Section de common law/ Common Law Section
Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa

Louis Lefeber
Professor of Economics and Graduate Program for
Social and Political Thought (emeritus)
York University

Fabiana Li
Associate Professor
Department of Anthropology
University of Manitoba

Carol Liao
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Law
University of Victoria

Jamie Liew
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Law/Faculté de droit
Common Law Section/Section de common law
University of Ottawa/Université d’Ottawa

Katherine Lippel
Chaire de recherche du Canada en droit de la santé et de la sécurité du travail/Canada Research Chair on Occupational Health and Safety Law
Faculté de droit / Faculty of Law
Section droit civil/ Civil Law Section
Université d'Ottawa/University of Ottawa

Mary Liston
Assistant Professor
Allard School of Law
University of British Columbia

Jason MacLean
Assistant Professor
Bora Laskin Faculty of Law
Lakehead University

Constance MacIntosh
Associate Professor
Schulich School of Law
Dalhousie University

Heather McLeod-Kilmurray
Associate Professor
Centre for Environmental Law and Global Sustainability
Faculty of Law/Faculté de droit
Common Law Section/Section de common law
University of Ottawa/Université d’Ottawa

Kent McNeil
Emeritus Professor
Osgoode Hall Law School
York University

Johnny Mack
Assistant Professor
Allard School of Law & First Nations and Indigenous Studies
University of British Columbia

Ravi Malhotra
Associate Professor/Professeur Agrégé
Faculty of Law/Faculté de Droit
Common Law Section/Section de Common Law
University of Ottawa/Université d'Ottawa

Naiomi W. Metallic
Chancellor’s Chair in Aboriginal Law and Policy
Assistant Professor
Schulich School of Law
Dalhousie University

Nick E. Milanovic
Adjunct Research Professor
Department of Law and Legal Studies
Carleton University

Sarah Morales
Professeure adjointe /Assistant Professor
Faculté de droit/Faculty of Law
Section de common law / Common Law Section
Université d'Ottawa/University of Ottawa

Mary Jane Mossman
Professor of Law
Osgoode Hall Law School
York University

Matthew Murphy
Assistant Professor of Sustainability & Strategy
Gustavson School of Business
University of Victoria

Catherine Nolin
Associate Professor and Chair
Geography
University of Northern British Columbia

Obiora Chinedu Okafor
Professor & York Research Chair in International and Transnational Legal Studies
Osgoode Hall Law School
York University

Peter Oliver
Professor
Faculté de droit/Faculty of Law
Section de common law/ Common Law Section
Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa

Philip Oxhorn
Professor of Political Science
Department of Political Science
McGill University

Palma Paciocco
Assistant Professor
Osgoode Hall Law School
York University

Pamela D. Palmater
Associate Professor and Chair in Indigenous Governance
Ryerson University

Mona Paré
Professeure agrégée / Associate Professor
Faculté de droit/Faculty of Law
Section de droit civil/Civil Law Section
Université d'Ottawa / University of Ottawa

Marina Pavlovic
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Law/Faculté de droit
Common Law Section/Section de common law
University of Ottawa/Université d’Ottawa

Astrid V. Pérez Piñán
Assistant Professor
School of Public Administration
Faculty of Social and Human Development
University of Victoria

Stephen D. Rader
Professor of Chemistry
Department of Chemistry
University of Northern British Columbia

Darryl Robinson
Associate Professor
Faculty of Law
Queen’s University

David Robitaille
Professeur agrégé/Associate Professor
Faculté de droit/Faculty of Law
Section de droit civil/Civil Law Section
Université d'Ottawa / University of Ottawa

Rakhi Ruparelia
Associate Professor
Faculty of Law/Faculté de droit
Common Law Section/Section de common law
University of Ottawa/Université d’Ottawa

Douglas Sanderson
Associate Professor

Faculty of Law
University of Toronto

Teresa Scassa
Professor and Canada Research Chair in Information Law
Faculté de droit/Faculty of Law
Section de common law/ Common Law Section
Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa

Craig Scott
Professor of Law
Osgoode Hall Law School
York University

Dayna Nadine Scott
Associate Professor
Osgoode Hall Law School and the Faculty of Environmental Studies,
York University

Dr. Karena Shaw
Associate Professor and Director
School of Environmental Studies
University of Victoria 

Alberto R. Salazar V.
Assistant Professor
Department of Law and Legal Studies
Carleton University

Elizabeth Sheehy
Professor of Law
Faculty of Law/Faculté de droit
Common Law Section/Section de common law
University of Ottawa/Université d’Ottawa

Brian Slattery
Professor of Law
Osgoode Hall Law School
York University

Daviken Studnicki-Gizbert
Associate Professor
Department of History
McGill University

Érick Sullivan
Directeur adjoint de la Clinique de droit international pénal et humanitaire
Faculté de droit
Université Laval

David Szablowski
Associate Professor
Law and Society Program
York University

François Tanguay-Renaud
Associate Professor
Director, Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security
Osgoode Hall Law School
York University

Sophie Thériault
Professeure agrégée / Associate Professor
Faculté de droit/Faculty of Law
Section de droit civil/Civil Law Section
Université d'Ottawa / University of Ottawa

Eric Tucker
Professor of Law
Osgoode Hall Law School
York University

Gus Van Harten
Professor
Osgoode Hall Law School
York University

David Vaver, CM
Professor of Intellectual Property Law
Osgoode Hall Law School
York University

Joao Velloso
Professeur adjoint / Assistant Professor
Faculté de droit | Faculty of Law
Section de common law | Common Law
Université d'Ottawa | University of Ottawa

Cynthia Williams
Osler Chair in Business Law
Osgoode Hall Law School
York University

David Wiseman
Associate Professor
Faculty of Law/Faculté de droit
Common Law Section/Section de common law
University of Ottawa/Université d’Ottawa

Stepan Wood
Professor and York Research Chair in Environmental Law and Justice
Osgoode Hall Law School
York University

Anna Zalik
Associate Professor
Faculty of Environmental Studies
York University

 

 


 

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