Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Bill C-300 Walk of Shame

Bill C-300, An Act respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil or Gas in Developing Countries, was the attempt to provide a mechanism for dealing with environmental and human rights violations supported or perpetrated by Canadian companies abroad.

Despite being a Liberal bill, it barely passed second reading in the House on April 22, 2009 by a mere 4 votes, because 20 Libs and 7 Dippers missed the vote.

Yesterday in the House, the Bloc's Richard Nadeau quoted from Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond by Don Cheadle and John Prendergast with an introduction written by Barack Obama, published in 2007 :
"The Sudanese regime, supported by Canadian, Malaysian and Chinese oil companies, was able to wipe out whole populations in south-central Sudan, leaving the way clear for the oil companies to start pumping the oil."
and Noir Canada: Pillage, corruption et criminalité en Afrique, 2008
"In Bulyanhulu, Tanzania, bulldozers and the national police force were used to expropriate several hundred small-scale miners and clear the way for Canada's Sutton Mining to exploit the area. Fifty-two people were buried alive in that operation. Sutton Mining was then bought by another Canadian company, Barrick Gold."

The International Trade Committee has been hearing similar testimony and much worse for the last 18 months.

Today Bill C-300 went down to defeat in the House 140 to 134 because the following 13 Liberals, 4 Bloc, and 4 NDP skipped the vote (2 Bloc and 2 Cons were paired). Those with a star beside their name also missed the vote on this bill last time, which might lead one to wonder at the coincidence.

Libs : Michael Ignatieff*, Scott Brison*, Ujjal Dosanjh*, John McCallum*, Geoff Regan*, Scott Andrews, Sukh Dhaliwal, Ruby Dhalla, Martha Hall Findlay, Jim Karygiannis, Gerard Kennedy, Keith Martin, and Anthony Rota.

NDP : Charlie Angus*, Bruce Hyer, Pat Martin, and Glen Thibeault

Bloc : Monique Guay, Francine Lalonde, Carole Lavallée, and Yves Lessard.

A special shout-out to Libs Michael Ignatieff, Scott Brison, and Scott Andrews who were all present in the House today yet somehow failed to vote for Bill C-300.
Bruce Hyer of the NDP was there to vote on the 14 amendments to this bill just prior to the vote but not for the final vote.

Cowards. Shame on you all.


Beijing York said...

Given the breadth of supporters, these MPs look like their sided with multinational corporations:

In the course of Bill C-300's review in the House, thousands of Canadians wrote to support; it was well received by ministers and former ministers in countries where Canadian mining companies operate; it was praised by Canadian and international legal professionals, human rights advocates, faith-based groups, and trade unions; and it was welcomed by a United Nations special rapporteur, as well as villagers and organizations from hundreds of communities affected by Canadian mining companies in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

Is Francine Lalonde the BQ member whose dealing with a recurrence of cancer? If so, I give her a pass.

Alison said...

Yes, she does get one - left her in though rather than edit list.

It's also true that after watching the Lib votes on the 14 amendments to the bill that immediately preceded the final vote, the NDP and Bloc members in the House would have known in advance that they couldn't pass it.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Gerard Kennedy in Japan?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Kennedy is in Japan at a UN enviro conference.

Anonymous said...

they should have to explain why they didnot vote
Bill C-474 is next

Anonymous said...

The Libs had no idea what the fuck they were doing here.

First Iggy is silent on C-300 in caucus and Whip Marcel Proulx encourages Libs to avoid bill.

Then Libs put out a message before the vote:
"Liberals recognize the importance of the mining, gas and oil industry to Canada. We believe that a commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – at home and abroad – makes good business sense and is a Canadian advantage. We are sending a strong message of the government that they cannot continue to ignore CSR for Canadian companies."

Then Iggy signals not to vote for it.

After it fails he puts out a new message:
"Despite the defeat of C-300, the Liberal Party remains committed to the important principle of corporate social responsibility for Canadian industries at home and abroad."


Alison said...

Excuse me, WTF?, but what exactly about the Blue Dog Liberal message did you not understand?

West End Bob said...

Blue Dog Liberal, indeed, Alison - a very apt term!

The more I hear of "Liberal" moves under iggy the more they resemble the "Democrats" in the US - Ineffective and not much of a difference from the rethuglicans. Both organizations should be forced to change their names (along with gordo's BC "Liberals") as they definitely do NOT represent the terminology.

Makes one wish for a Canada-wide Bloc option . . . .

BTW: How did Hedy vote?

Alison said...

Hi honeybun. There's that clicky linky thing in the post ;-) "Bill C-300 went down to defeat" ;-) that shows how everyone voted.
62 out of 77 Libs voted for it, including Hedy. That actually sounds pretty good til you consider the Con Borg can usually muster 140 out of 144.

West End Bob said...

Oh, that's what those clicky linky things do! ;-)

Thanks, Dear (Almost a) Lady . . . .

Anonymous said...

Dosanjh appears to be abroad as well, specifically Germany two days ago, and has been absent from the voting since Oct 20th.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the rhetoric of NGO's is being regurgitated without thought or consideration.

Why do you think NGO's want to legislate? They prefer to have only THEIR ideas/methods considered.

True CSR requires dialogue and working together, something that the industry has been more than willing to do. Can't say the same for NGO's who spout propaganda, incomplete information, and that travel to poor communities to incite violence.

That doesn't sound like a group that is committed to CSR.

Let us not forget - mining is the foundation of all that we have, use and do. Try working with companies in aproductive fashion rather than politicizing something as important as CSR.

Alison said...

Corporate Social Responsibility: Movements and Footprints of Canadian Mining and Exploration Firms in the Developing World

Commissioned by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) in 2009

"Canadian companies have been the most significant group involved in unfortunate incidents in the developing world. Canadian companies have played a much more major role than their peers from Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Canadian companies are more likely to be engaged in community conflict, environmental and unethical behaviour."

Canada is #1 in the world in mining and extractive industries in foreign countries. With over a thousand mining and exploration companies in 100 countries - about 5,000 projects - Canada has well over 50% of the global exploration and mining companies.
Canadian mining companies are involved in more than four times as many violations as the next two highest offenders, Australia and India.
The majority of the Canadian mining companies involved in such violations already have CSR policies in place.
So, Anon, voluntary compliance is not really working out very well so far, is it?

Ley said...

Hi Alson,

Please direct me to the empirical evidence in the report where the companies with these supposed CSR policies are listed/named.

That's right - they don't exist.

That doesn't sound like a sound, well-researched, unbiased report to me.

And if you read carefully, Canadian companies outnumber those from other nations - 75% of the world's mineral companies are Canadian. It would only be natural that they would receive the most complaints.

And if you do the math, those "complaints" (not violations as they are only allegations, made mostly by conflict-inciting NGOs) amount to an average of 5.6 per year.

So... 5.6 complaints made per year against 1,800 Canadian companies. I can accept that very low number.

Voluntary compliance IS working then...based on this "report".

Alison said...

Ley : What's with the scare quotes around "report". It's an industry report commissioned by PDAC.

"Each infraction was counted after two corroborating sources of information were scrutinized and assessed by a member of the research team. It is important to note that only information on incidents that have attracted significant public attention are captured in this report."

The report also notes it was unable to collect any data in closed countries like Sierra Leone and Burma.

"According to our calculations, Canadian companies have been involved in more than one in three incidents that have occurred in the developing world in the last ten years. The third most common type of infraction were those of an unethical nature, which were prominent 30% of the occasions.

Nearly eight in ten companies that have been involved in incidents currently have a CSR policy of some kind.
Still, to date Canadian mining and exploration companies have a very poor record of formal support for recognized CSR guidelines. This is despite efforts by the Government of Canada to promote CSR standards through financial and economic support. The EITI, which has been supported by 1.3 million dollars from the Government of Canada, has only been endorsed by two Canadian mining companies. The Voluntary Principles on Human Rights and Security do not have a single formal adherent from the Canadian mining sector."

Again, Ley, this is from an industry report from the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada.

MgS said...

Doesn't anybody find it just a little bit troubling that nations are enacting laws to exercise extraterritorial jurisdiction?

There are subtle shadings to C-300 which are profoundly disturbing, no matter how noble the intent may be.

Alison said...

MgS : A warning repeatedly raised by the mining spokespeople who testified before the Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.

But things are pretty extraterritorial already, aren't they?

Pacific Rim, a Canadian mining company, is suing the government of El Salvador for $100-million for breach of the Central American Free Trade Agreement after El Salvador refused to grant them a gold mine permit.
Now Canada is not a signatory to CAFTA but the US is, so Pacific Rim is suing El Salvador through a subsidiary company they moved from the Cayman Islands to Nevada.

Ley said...

I understand that the "report" was commissioned by the PDAC; however, that does not mean that the "stats" reported are accurate. Because it is a "report" paid for by industry does not mean that it is academically sound or impartial. Ever buy something from the store that wasn't what it claimed to be?

I imagine that the report was paid for and commissioned in order to gain insight into the industry in a fair and neutral way so that it may contribute to reasoned debate around CSR. Instead, all this report seems to be is a vehicle for anti-mining bias that politicizes an important issue rather than try to create an impartial, information tool.

I use quotations around the term "report" not as "scare" quotes; I just do not think it is accurate to call this thing a report-proper because of its lack of empirical data, its unfounded claims, unnamed sources and radicalized/biased terminology.

Despite what the "report" states in one or two instances about its sources, none of these are actually named or identified in the "report". How can you accept any of the claims the authors make? Quite frankly, the lack of empirical data negates any of the findings. The data cannot be verified. It really is a poorly conducted study. Just take another look at the methodology - poorly constructed as well.

Repeating the rhetoric and biased interpretations of this report does not prove anything, since the report is not backed up with hard data/evidence. This type of report would never be accepted in even the lowest form of academia.

Essentially, the "report" is a very shoddy piece of work that would never stand up to standard academic requirements of references, clear data and appendices that validate what is said. The sources of information in the most case are not specified. The data gathering method is extremely flawed as it appears to depend on the concept that if two different places say the same thing it must be true, when we know that one NGO originates a story and from that a multitude of websites proliferate it until what was a story on one site, becomes repeated on many, up to tens of sites. Also, NGOs, anti-mining academics, etc all repeat one another’s stories thus increasing the “veracity” of the story. It is impossible to judge the veracity of the alleged incidents because none of them are specified.

All through the report it is said that Canadian companies are involved in more incidents than any other country – even doing comparisons with places like India. But nowhere in the report does it ever do a ratio of alleged events to company numbers for a particular country, so there is no information on a rate per 100 companies or something similar. Of course, the suspicion is that because there are so many Canadian companies the ratio is far smaller for Canada than any other country.

Proportionately, the alleged complaints against Canadian mining firms are much less than those of other countries'. As I stated, there are over 1,800 (!) Canadian projects around the world, and if 33% of the alleged 171 complaints were made against these Canadian companies over a 10 year period, that equals a mere average of 5 complaints a year. 5 alleged complaints a year out of 1,800 companies is pretty darn good! I would accept those numbers from any industry that operates overseas.

It is quite simple math, but for obvious reasons, the authors choose not to make this important distinction and instead fill the "report" with unfounded allegations, flawed "data" and biased opinions.

I enjoy academically sound studies, as they actually contribute something to society. I read this "report" and it is really an unfortunate piece of "work".

Alison said...

What? Ley, it's not 'shoddy' or 'flawed'; it's a blind report. The same research partner, CCSRC, did a similar survey on CSR for the Committee on International Trade and Foreign Affairs. This is what is written at the top of their questionnaires:

"The survey results will be blind and all company-specific information will be permanently deleted once the data has been analyzed. No company information will be made available to the public at any stage in the survey process."

Even so, questionnaires sent to corporations only had a 3% return rate.

If you want detailed data, there's lots at the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights website that include the company names along with data like : anti-mining activist found at bottom of well with a bullet in his head and all his fingernails removed.

You do the mining industry no service here. It isn't even as if they are going to be prosecuted for their abuses committed in the developing world. Canadians just want to stop paying them to do them through the EDC.

thwap said...

Just a corporate p.r. hack spinning for his supper.

Ley said...

It is a shoddy and flawed report - it is not a "blind" report.

The other survey/report that the CCSRC conducted was very different from the 2009 "CSR Movements and Footprints" study in that the latter was not a questionnaire study - read the methodology again. I would also recommend re-reading my previous post where I offer a very good analysis of the report’s poor methodology, its lack of sources, appendices and information and its biased interpretations.

Instead of considering my points of critique, you point me towards a completely different study and attempt to make comparisons, even when the studies are completely different. Posting a citation from another study’s methodology does not prove any point, Alison. They are two different studies. The fact that the CCSRC did not include an appendix with clear data that included the sources of these “alleged violations” and the “alleged violating” companies speaks volumes about the credibility of the report – it has none.

The other study you cited, the one with the “blind” methodology, is blind because it used companies as its basis for information. The 2009 “CSR Movements and Footprints” study could have printed its source data because it came largely from NGOs, media and websites.

Alas, the authors of the “report” did not share this information, therefore you cannot take the “information” as concrete evidence. There is no proof of sources or “violations” - what a terrible piece of work to be citing! Perhaps the PDAC organization, then, was right in not having released it.

You cited the 2009 “CSR Movements and Footprints” study in previous posts, and I have responded directly to your assertions (which were cited from this flawed “report”) as I find it to be a horrible piece of work. Rather than respond directly to my critique, you have chosen to use rhetoric, stories (from the UN of all sources!!), and anecdotal statements.

That is not reasoned dialogue or debate.

As I mentioned, we know that one NGO originates a story and from that a multitude of websites proliferate it until what was a story on one site, becomes repeated on many, up to tens of sites. Also, NGOs, anti-mining academics, etc all repeat one another’s stories thus increasing the “veracity” of the story.

You are part of this unfortunate process.

Ley said...

Thwap - that is an unfortunate comment.

You don't think NGOs get paid? They have made an industry out of what they do.

I have not promoted the industry, I am interrogating the veracity of this "report". But thank you for contributing to the dialogue.

For the record, my career is in academia.

Anonymous said...

Alison, Ley is just wasting your time by avoiding the substance of your post. Mining websites have posted that the leaked CCSRC document was just part of a first draft and not the complete final document.

Ley said...

Anon - what is the substance?

Based on it being a first draft, why bother citing it over and over? NGO's are apparently citing only what they want.

Again, the statistics from the report (if true) are not damaging to the image of the industry if they are taken into context and not laden with anti-mining rhetoric.

As per the report, 75% of the world's mineral companies are Canadian....
There are over 1,800 Canadian projects around the world, and if 33% of the alleged 171 complaints were made against these Canadian companies over a 10 year period, that equals a mere average of 5 complaints a year.

Small number per year over a 10 year period.

thwap said...


So NGOs dedicated to exposing corporate fraud and malfeasance are really just mercenaries? It is to laugh.

You're in academia you say? So is Jack Granatstein.

I'll sign-off for now. I don't want you to think you've got any credibility here.

MgS said...


There's quite a difference between a treaty which is agreed upon and extra-territorial in its consequences and a law promulgated in a country that reaches beyond that country's borders without the supporting context of a mutually agreed upon treaty.

BTW - I'm not on the side of the mining companies here - I am objecting to extraterritorial legislation in general - especially when there is no treaty framework supporting that legislation.

Alison said...

Didn't imagine you were siding with anyone in particular, MgS. Could you elaborate?

Anonymous said...

We're not inventing the wheel here.
The UK passed the Corporate Responsibility Bill 7 years ago which includes liability with the possibility of jail time for company directors.

This is what Canadian-listed companies with their vastly more atrocious human rights record fear will happen here, even though by comparison Bill C-300 was gutless.

Anonymous said...

A CSR initiative in Canada for the mining industry will happen, there is no doubt about that. However Bill C-300 is not the answer.

Unfortunately, it's just flawed in its structure and misaligned to its goal. The large corporations with enough money to pump into long term sustainable development are not the problems. It's the juniors who are nickel and dime-ing everything that won't spend the time on CSR.

If Bill C-300 would have passed, it would have sparked an endless media frenzy into the mining industry with allegations either blown out of proportion or made on false premises. If you read through a transcription of a meeting where the mining companies are trying to argue there side, you can see a section where Paul Dewar is questioning Goldcorp on an incident in Honduras where Goldcorp was fined. Well, because of his misleading information, he failed to understand that the fine was removed. There was a mis-communication issue and Goldcorp tainted their reputation because of it. In fact, it came back 2 years later to bite them in the ass in this meeting. Well, Goldcorp was proven innocent but the damage was done.

Now what would happen to this company if an NGO claimed it was leaking a number of tailings ponds, or that their labourers were working inhumane hours (which could have been by their own free will). This Bill would have put them into the media spotlight and would have tainted their reputation.

Now, I am not a proponent against a CSR initiative. I think it's something Canada should address, and should address in a manner of cooperation and consultation. But this bill was not created in the best interests of Canada, or its mining industry. And for that reason alone, I am not surprised the Bill did not get passed.

Anonymous said...


I agree with your comment re: the problem with the reputational damage that a flawed bill would have caused.

The juniors that you speak of - it is important to clarify the nature of that business. For the majority, it is not about "nickel and dime-ing" because of a lack of desire to spend funds on CSR. Most junionrs are comprised of a small number of employees with limited funds that are raised on the market.

Money from investors, which is limited and hard to get, is spent directly on their exploration programs and there is nothing left over to spend on CSR initiatives. This is the nature of the business.

Perhaps the government should look into funding CSR initiatives for junior companies that cannot afford to do so. This carrot approach is much better than the stick.

Anonymous said...

Well said. I couldn't agree with you more.

I guess that I just didn't go into enough depth when I was trying to explain the juniors.

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