The vast majority of mining companies operating globally are Canadian. For nearly two decades, social justice advocates systematically documented the concerns of mine-affected communities in relation to Canadian operations in developing countries, producing a significant body of empirical work that described not only the nature of the social conflicts associated with Canadian companies but also the mechanisms whereby the Canadian government provides companies with political, economic and legal support. Beginning in 2005, activists, policy makers, industry leaders and international human rights bodies participated in a sustained debate over the appropriate Canadian regulatory responses to these issues. This chapter analyses the strategies of law reform advocates between 2000 and 2017 to critique Canadian policy and the overseas conduct of Canadian extractive companies. It gives special attention to the 2016 law reform proposal from Canadian civil society, the draft Business & Human Rights Act. The strategies profiled here are of special interest because they resulted in a significant, if not unexpected, breakthrough in early 2018 when the Canadian government announced a globally unprecedented new grievance mechanism: the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise. The discussion is of interest to those concerned with laws potential (and limitations) as an instrument of social justice in the global economy, and particularly for communities affected by foreign resource extraction.
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Categories: Corporate Accountability - Canada