News Release: Wednesday, September 13, 2006
MANDATORY CODE OF CONDUCT NEEDED FOR CANADIAN CORPORATIONS OPERATING
Toronto: The United Church of Canada is calling on the Canadian government to implement strong, mandatory standards with rigorous monitoring and compliance mechanisms for Canadian companies operating abroad.
"The existing voluntary approach simply is not adequate," said United Church spokesperson Omega Bula, in a presentation last evening to the National Roundtables on Corporate Social Responsibility and the Canadian Extractives Sector in Developing Countries. The Toronto roundtable meetings, which are being held September 12-14, are the second in a series of similar meetings taking place in four Canadian cities between June and November 2006.
"Voluntary standards are difficult to enforce, and nothing compels corporations to sign on to them in the first place," said Bula, who is the Executive Minister of the United Church's Justice, Global and Ecumenical Relations Unit.
"We believe that mandatory, enforceable corporate standards with effective monitoring mechanisms are essential to ensure the ethical behaviour of Canadian corporations operating abroad," added Bula.
Bula explains that Canadians must remember that Canada is a world leader in mineral exploration and mining. In many nations around the globe, these extractive industries are the public face of Canada.
"If Canadian companies do not respect human rights, if they contaminate local ecosystems, if they do not consult with local communities, they make a mockery of Canada's affirmed commitment to democracy, human rights, and ecological sustainability," says Bula.
She adds, "Protecting local ecosystems and ensuring adequate labour standards incur costs which many corporations resist. We know that human rights and ecological protections outside of Canada are often inadequate. There is little incentive for Canadian corporations to meet or exceed these standards."
She notes, however, that Canadian corporations operating abroad receive funding, consular, and insurance support from the Canadian government, and the Government of Canada benefits from the corporate taxes these companies pay in Canada.
"For these reasons, the government must assume its responsibility to ensure that Canadian corporations operating abroad do not violate human rights, unfairly exploit human labour, or endanger the health of local ecosystems," says Bula.
For further information, please contact:
Mary-Frances Denis Communications Officer The United Church of Canada 416-231-7680 ext. 2016 (business)
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