Monday, January 30, 2012

CIDA doles out corporate welfare to mining giants

In Oct 2010, Bill C-300, An Act respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil or Gas in Developing Countries, went down to defeat 140 to 134 because 13 Liberals, 4 Bloc, and 4 NDP skipped the vote. The bill sought only to limit Canadian tax dollars being spent to subsidize mining abuses committed by Canadian-registered companies abroad and only if they agreed to it.

A couple of months later in January 2011, Bev Oda, Minister of 'Not Kairos' and International Cooperation, acknowledged that Canadian tax dollars were subsidizing mining companies' CSR (corporate social responsibility) projects through CIDA - half a million to Barrick Gold, another half million to Rio Tinto, etc etc up to a total of $50-million for the year.

Today's G&M : CIDA funds seen to be subsidizing mining firms
This marks the first time that CIDA and mining firms are jointly funding aid projects abroad ...         The mining industry is welcoming the new trend in Canada’s foreign-aid policy. 
“There is a policy shift under way, and it’s one we’re encouraged by,” said Pierre Gratton, the president of the Canadian Mining Association.
while World Vision Canada, a CIDA partner with Barrick Gold in Peru, put it this way  (italics mine):
 “Anything we can do to encourage and advocate for better mining practices, and support the communities that they are displacing or affecting, we’re contributing to a better lifestyle and environment for them.” 
Yes, sadly, communities will be displaced but at least our taxes will be there to help polish the image of their new corporate landlords . 

It's particularly galling that multinational mining giant Rio Tinto ($US15 billion-plus earnings in 2011) is receiving Canadian corporate welfare after locking  800 Canadian workers out on New Years Day in Quebec for protesting having their union jobs replaced by contract workers. Additionally, a court injunction only permits 20 workers to demonstrate at any one time and only at a distance of 150 metres from the front gate.

Back to the G&M :
Federal officials said the policy shift at CIDA is co-ordinated with efforts by International Trade and Natural Resources to encourage the growth of Canadian firms abroad
Sure it is.
A couple of days ago, Rio Tinto took majority control of Canada's Ivanhoe Mines which owns 66% of Mongolia's Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine, the rest being owned by the state of Mongolia. 
As it happens, Bev Oda was in Mongolia last August :
"looking to assist Mongolia to strengthen its democratic governance and economic growth"
 presumably with the help of China :
"In 2010, Rio Tinto said that it had held talks with its biggest shareholder, Chinalco, about the possibility of bringing in the Chinese state-owned company as a partner in Oyu Tolgoi"
Why are Canadian tax dollars subsidizing these massive multinational mining corps with corporate welfare again?


Beijing York said...

World Vision, PLAN Canada and WUSC are the respective NGO partners for the three mining companies: Barricks, IAMGOLD and Rio Tinto.

Shame on these organizations. I used to have a great deal of respect for WUSC and I have supported PLAN Canada emergency appeals in the past. Never much liked the Christian slant of World Vision.

CIDA, DFID, USAID etc have had a spotty record in terms of achieving meaningful goals since they often favoured tied their funding to developing countries to purchasing their expertise and goods. But Harper's P3 approach with mining companies (cutting out local government control over projects) is really beyond the pale.

Alison said...

WUSC-Rio Tinto Alcan project
Total budget: $928,000 over 3 years
CIDA: $500,000
WUSC/Rio Tinto Alcan: $428,000
Rio Tinto net profit in 2010: $726,000,000

Plan Canada-IAMGOLD project
Total budget: $7.6 million over 5.5 years
CIDA: $5.7 million
Plan Canada: $0.9 million
IAMGOLD: $1 million
IAMGOLD gross profit in 2010: $597,000,000

World Vision-Barrick Gold project
Total budget: $1 million over 3.5 years
CIDA: $500,000
World Vision/Barrick Gold: $500,000
Barrick Gold net profit in 2010: $3,279,000,000

Source: CIDA

I don't know enough about how much these NGOs will just be acting as bagmen compared to the extent their presence will temper the worst of corporate abuses.

What I do know something about, from watching committee hearings two years, was the extraordinary arguments mining lobby groups were willing to front to shut down even toothless little old C-300. Not to mention lobbying MPs.

If they can't even make a commitment not to hire paramilitaries to kill union leaders or clear local miners and farmers off their own land or permanently pollute water systems, then any little medical clinic or school they open next to a mine is just a bribe to ignore those abuses.

Also I will not soon forget Con MP Peter Goldring's argument against C-300 that adherence to international human rights standards "amounts to a limit on Canadian sovereignty" abroad.

thwap said...

"“There is a policy shift under way, and it’s one we’re encouraged by,” said Pierre Gratton, the president of the Canadian Mining Association."

Don't you just hate the way the words ooze out of their mouths?

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