Sometime early next year, the Canadian Government led by liberal Premier Justin Trudeau may finally honour its 2015 election pledge and appoint an independent human rights ombudsman to oversee the country’s international mining operations.
A decade ago, support for the office faced stiff opposition from much of Canada’s mining industry and the country’s then conservative government, under the premiership of Stephen Harper. In 2009, Harper’s Government opted instead for an alternative corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy together with a series of national contact points (NCPs) which would operate without an ombudsman. In 2014, attempts were made to ‘strengthen’ the CSR, albeit without providing recourse to an independent ombudsman.
But the strategy’s ineffectiveness in protecting workers’ rights, the environment and curbing corruption has led to it come under fire from a wide variety of critics, and the Trudeau Government has been accused of dragging its feet on the issue since coming to power last October.