Three Canadian gold-mining companies are getting together to oppose a proposed law that would prohibit our federal government from supporting the operation of companies that violate environmental and human rights standards abroad. Not that these companies would actually be required by this law to respect any particular rules, but if they were found to be in violation, then your tax dollars would no longer be used to fund their activities.
Personally, I think it’s silly enough when someone goes as far as to say that they can enjoy the protection offered by Canadian embassies and high commissions throughout the world while not being bound by a responsibility to in return protect the name of Canada by treating other human beings and the environment they inhabit with dignity. In my opinion, the issue of the investment of our tax dollars in irresponsible operations shouldn’t even be part of the discussion. Withdrawing the support of our government from a company that has been found to be in violation of environmental or human rights standards would perhaps remove the insult that has been added to injury, but would not go all the way to removing the injury.
Nonetheless, my opinion is that the proposed law might be an important step for the reason that it would give our government some relevance with respect to allegations against companies operating abroad, and John McKay who’s responsible for bringing it forward, and the other politicians who are working to pass it, deserve to be thanked for trying to fix what appears to me to be a real problem.
John McKay discusses the issue with the President of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada in part one of the October 16th 2009 episode of CBC’s radio program The Current which can be found here.
Statements in favour of Bill C-300 are available from the websites of Mining Watch Canada and Amnesty International Canada, and the full text of the Bill is available from a link on John McKay’s website.
Many thanks to a good friend of mine for sending me the CBC article and alerting me to that piece of news.