This is Canada’s time to put people and the planet first

The transition to green energy is the time to lead Canadian mining, according to the federal minister for natural resources and the president and CEO of the Mining Association of Canada in an opinion piece they co-wrote for The province May 31.

The government and mining sector are betting on Canadian cobalt, graphite, lithium and nickel mineral deposits, which are needed to make electric vehicle batteries, solar panels, wind turbines and the like to aid the country’s decarbonization efforts.

“We are building on our strengths, recognizing that the path to a low-emission future is paved with clean technologies and that minerals and metals will provide the materials we need,” wrote Minister Seamus O’Regan and MAC President and CEO. , Pierre Gratton.

However, one of Canada’s weaknesses is corporate responsibility. force-a-vis human rights and environmental protection. While the Canadian government and mining spokespeople speak of inclusive growth and partnership with indigenous communities, actions speak louder than words.

If Canada is to be a green economy leader in addressing the climate emergency, the federal government must address the lack of mandatory and enforceable corporate responsibility measures, which have had devastating consequences, within and beyond the Canadian border.

For example, four tailings dam ruptures in BC and Brazil, including in the Mount Polley Mine, have been produced in the last seven years, all with ties to Canadian companies. These cases of corporate wrongdoing have displaced hundreds of people, destroyed entire habitats and polluted freshwater sources. To date, the federal government has not imposed consequences on these companies.

The Office of the Canadian Ombudsman for Responsible Business, which the Canadian government staffed in 2019 to review allegations of corporate human rights and environmental violations in foreign operations, lacks the mandate to require evidence, rendering it ineffective.

Furthermore, mining companies have not always obtained the free, prior and informed consent stipulated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples before proceeding with operations. Companies tend to make mistakes consultation for consent, a manipulative tactic that discards the right of indigenous peoples to self-determination and that indigenous women repeatedly claim excludes them from decision-making spaces.

The gendered impacts of resource extraction are alarming. Gender-based violence and Canada’s extractive sector are intertwined, according to sources such as Final report of the national investigation on disappeared and murdered indigenous women and girls. As we have seen in recent struggles for land, women environmental defenders, whether in BC or Brazil, are too often criminalized and / or threatened by public and private security.

AND environmental violations They have been rampant, according to affected communities across the Global South, where women generally experience the consequences of business misconduct most acutely.

This lack of corporate responsibility undermines Canada’s international development, such as the International feminist assistance policy.

Opinion: Mining Canadian Mineral Deposits Will Help Fuel Canada’s Decarbonization Efforts. But in doing so, the country must enforce corporate responsibility and protect human rights, writes Gabriela Jiménez @kairoscanada. #UNDRIP #climate

“All they (extractive companies) think about are profits,” he said. Sonia Guajajara, activist, environmentalist and indigenous Brazilian politician. “They don’t care how they are going to affect our identities or the environment because they don’t really care about the future.”

There are several complementary paths that Canada must take to defend human rights and the environment from Canadian business misconduct.

One is to implement the Appeals to justice, especially the Calls for Extractive Industries and Development, in the final MMIWG2S research report.

Another is for the federal government to follow the advice of its own parliamentary subcommittee on international human rights and empowering the Canadian Ombudsman for Responsible Business, as well as enacting mandatory environmental and human rights due diligence laws.

On May 31, the same day the “mining moment” op-ed was published, the Canadian Corporate Responsibility Network published the Law on Business Respect for Human Rights and the Environment Abroad, a model for due diligence legislation that would require companies, based in Canada and operating abroad or those selling products in Canada, and their business partners to prevent human rights and environmental violations and carry out the due diligence. The law would include significant consequences for companies causing harm and / or failing to conduct due diligence.

While the green revolution may be mining time, it must also be Canada’s time to prioritize the health and well-being of all people and ecosystems. Such leadership requires the federal government to impose legally binding corporate responsibility measures, which by default require clearer boundaries between state and private institutions, such as the Mining Association of Canada.

Gabriela Jiménez has served as the alliance coordinator for Latin America at KAIROS since 2018, where she coordinates the Mother earth and resource extraction: women defending land and water, a digital hub on the gender impacts of resource extraction.

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