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e-2820 (Foreign affairs)

E-petition
Initiated by Patricia Lisson from Ottawa, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

Whereas:
  • Canadian corporation OceanaGold has operated a mine in Didipio, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines since 2013;
  • The people of Didipio, supported by their municipal and provincial governments, oppose the renewal of OceanaGold’s mining permit, which expired on June 20, 2019;
  • On April 6, 2020, some 100 Philippine National Police violently dispersed some 29 primarily indigenous Ifugao residents maintaining Didipio’s peaceful People’s Barricade that is authorized by municipal and provincial governments and started on July 1, 2019;
  • The Philippine National Police escorted three fuel trucks into the mine site using excessive force to break up the human barricade;
  • Rolando Pulido was beaten and arrested, and others were wounded; and
  • On April 7, 2020, Armed Forces of the Philippines Lt. Gen Antonio Parlade, Jr. issued a public statement “red-tagging” several environmental and disaster response organizations, including those supporting Didipio residents.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to:
1. Strengthen rules for Canadian businesses operating overseas and uphold human rights;
2. Make the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise independent and empowered to compel evidence and witness testimony under oath;
3. Enact a human rights due diligence law that compels businesses to respect international human rights;
4. Hold hearings on the human rights situation in the Philippines in the parliamentary human rights sub-committee during the current session of Parliament;
5. End Canadian support to the Government of the Philippines, including socio-economic and financial programming, tactical, logistical and training support, military sales and defence cooperation; and
6. Mandate Canadian consular personnel to protect human rights defenders.

Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Rob Oliphant

The Government of Canada expects Canadian companies active abroad, including in the Philippines, to abide by all relevant laws, to respect human rights in their operations, and to adopt voluntary best practices and internationally respected guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.  

 

Canada is committed to leading by example and promoting democracy, human rights and environmental protection. In 2018, Canada implemented the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE), an initiative to strengthen Canada’s approach to responsible business conduct for Canadian companies doing business and operating abroad.

 

The establishment of the CORE highlights this commitment. The Government of Canada has a multi-faceted approach to helping Canadian companies mitigate social and environmental risks. Canada’s network of diplomatic missions abroad actively promotes responsible business practices and creates opportunities for relationship building through conferences, workshops and other activities involving companies, representatives of host governments, civil society organizations, and community representatives. Global Affairs Canada provides funding and undertakes roughly 50 responsible business conduct (RBC) related projects around the world annually. Furthermore, Trade Commissioners within Canada’s network of missions abroad regularly provide RBC related guidance to Canadian businesses.

 

The Government of Canada works with a wide range of stakeholders, including Canadian businesses and civil society organizations, to promote responsible business practices and encourage inclusive economic growth and shared values in the markets where Canadian companies are active. Canadian companies active abroad benefit from Canada’s strong and competitive international reputation. However, they are expected and encouraged to incorporate RBC into their operations and to be accountable for their activities abroad.

 

The mandate of the CORE is to promote RBC standards, advise Canadian companies on their RBC related policies and practices, and review allegations of human rights abuses arising from the operations of Canadian companies abroad in the mining, oil and gas and garment sectors. To fulfill this important mandate, the Ombudsperson has the ability to initiate a review on her own initiative, undertake joint or independent fact finding, make recommendations, follow up on the implementation of those recommendations and report publicly throughout the process. On March 15, 2021, the office launched its online complaint process for reporting potential human rights abuses.

 

The CORE complements Canada’s National Contact Point (NCP) for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Created in 2000, the NCP, which includes the Government of Canada’s other dispute resolution mechanism, applies to all sectors including human rights, employment, environment, disclosure and anti-bribery. Canada’s NCP promotes the OECD Guidelines on responsible business conduct and facilitates dialogue or mediation between parties to resolve issues pertaining to the Guidelines. The NCP also reviews complaints, makes recommendations and provides follow up on implementation of those recommendations, reporting publicly at the conclusion of a review. Not collaborating in good faith with Canada’s dispute resolution mechanisms for responsible business conduct abroad could result in a CORE or NCP recommendation to deny or withdraw trade advocacy support and recommending to Export Development Canada (EDC) that they decline to provide financial support to the company.

 

Canada is deeply committed to the protection and promotion of human rights and Indigenous rights around the world, including in the Philippines.

 

Canada recognizes the key role played by human rights defenders in protecting and promoting human rights and strengthening the rule of law, often at great risk to themselves, their families and communities, and to the organizations and movements they often represent. Canada has a strong tradition of supporting these brave people in communities around the world as they hold governments and companies to account and keep respect for human rights alive.

 

Human rights are at the core of Canada’s feminist foreign policy. As part of this commitment, Canada adopted the Voices at Risk Guidelines on Supporting Human Rights Defenders, which offer practical advice to Canadian diplomats working around the world, to support human rights defenders.

 

Canada will continue to monitor the human rights situation in the Philippines and engage with relevant stakeholders, including government officials, non-governmental organizations, and representatives of civil society, to promote and protect human rights.

Open for signature
September 1, 2020, at 12:03 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
December 30, 2020, at 12:03 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Heather McPherson (Edmonton Strathcona)
February 25, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00560)
Government response tabled
April 12, 2021
Photo - Heather McPherson
Edmonton Strathcona
New Democratic Party Caucus
Alberta
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