The United Church of Canada expresses dismay over the government’s failure to appoint an independent ombudsperson with real powers.

Open pit, Marlin Mine, San Marcos, Guatemala
Open pit, Marlin Mine, San Marcos, Guatemala
Credit: Jim Hodgson/The United Church of Canada
Published On: April 8, 2019

Today, the Canadian government announced the creation and appointment of an Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE). The United Church of Canada is deeply disappointed by this news as the government has failed to create an independent office equipped with real powers to investigate abuses and redress the harm caused by Canadian companies operating abroad.

As the Canadian Network for Corporate Accountability—a network of environmental, human rights, faith, development and labour organizations—stated, “Canadian companies operating overseas have been associated with widespread and egregious human rights abuses including forced labour, rape, and murder. Fifteen months ago, the government announced that it would create an independent office with the power to investigate. Instead, it unveiled a powerless advisory post, little different from what has already existed for years.”

To be effective, the CORE must be arm’s length from the government and have the power to order those under investigation to produce documents and testimony under oath. The advisor position recently announced has not been granted these necessary powers.      

To seek justice and to live with respect in Creation are deeply held beliefs of people of The United Church of Canada as reflected in A New Creed. For over 10 years, members across the church have joined more than 500,000 Canadians who have asked successive Canadian governments to create an effective, credible ombudsperson.

They do this because they know that for global partners of the United Church, mining justice is a matter of faith as well as life and death. United Church partners in Asia, Africa, and Latin America have shared countless stories of lives lost and endangered because they have spoken out against the human rights abuses of some Canadian mining companies.

The United Church looks forward to the immediate implementation of the government’s original commitment to create an independent, effective, and credible ombudsperson. Today’s announcement falls short of that promise. The creation of a powerless advisory post leaves communities and individuals negatively impacted by Canadian mining companies with little hope of obtaining justice.

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