Twenty-three Canadian organizations are calling on Parliament to allow people harmed overseas by development from Canadian energy and natural resource firms to seek justice on Canadian soil.
Led by the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA), the organizations claim that social injustice is occurring overseas while Canada turns a blind eye. Weak out-of-court mechanisms and obstacles are preventing lawsuits in Canadian courts, the CNCA says.
Overseas communities that have concerns over human rights, labour or environmental abuses have no legal recourse or means of forcing the companies to address their concerns.
“It is time for Canada to create a mandatory extractive-sector ombudsman and to legislate access to courts for people who are harmed by the overseas operations of Canadian oil, mining and gas companies,” CNCA Co-ordinator Emily Dwyer said in an October 22, 2013 announcement from Ottawa about the call to action.
CNCA says Canada's voluntary Extractive-Sector Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor has proved “hopelessly ineffective” since the position was created in 2009. CNCA says that “no complaint has ever gone through a full review process. In most cases the company has simply walked away.”
CNCA suggests that Canadian companies should not be able to exert pressure on overseas companies that make a claim.
“Companies regularly try to hide from accountability by insisting that cases related to their overseas operations should not be heard by Canadian courts,” CNCA states in its call to action.