A Reply from Stockwell Day

To read communication previous to what’s given in this post, please click here.

A week after sending my November 23, 2009 email to the Prime Minister’s office, I sent another email to the office of the Hon. Lawrence Cannon to keep his office up to date on the most recent development in the communication between the Prime Minister’s office and me. The message to Lawrence Cannon was sent using the address Cannon.L@parl.gc.ca as made available here.

The message to the Hon. Lawrence Cannon follows. Note that in the following email I refer to an email dated September 30, 2009 for which the correct date is actually October 1, 2009. I wrote it late on September 30, but it was sent very early on October 1 Ottawa time.

November 30, 2009

To the office of the Honourable Lawrence Cannon:

On September 30th, 2009 I sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Canada, the Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper. In that letter I expressed concern about Canada’s apparent lack of control over the international operations of Canadian mining companies. I received a reply from the Prime Minister’s office on October 23, 2009 indicating that the Hon. Lawrence Cannon was in the best position to respond to those concerns, and that my concerns had been forwarded to him, although I don’t know for certain which of his offices it was sent to.

I am writing to you now to let you know that as of the present time I have not received any correspondence from the Hon. Lawrence Cannon regarding this issue of the international operations of Canadian mining companies. On November 23, 2009, I sent another email to the Prime Minister’s office to let them know that I had not yet received a reply addressing my concerns. I am not taking any lack of response so far as an indication that either you or the Prime Minister do not plan to respond.

The purpose of this letter is to keep you up to date on the most recent development in this correspondence and to notify you that I plan to share all correspondences on this matter with fellow Canadians and with other people who care about and are affected by the issue that I’m addressing. In case you have not been forwarded a copy of the email that I sent on November 23, 2009 to the Prime Minister’s office, I have attached it to this email so that you have the opportunity to be up to date on this correspondence.

Thank you very much for your time and for hearing my concerns.

I attached to that email a copy of my second letter to the Prime Minister, the one dated November 23, 2009, including a note about the correction to the error in footnote [7].

On January 11, 2010 I received the second of the replies that I have received on this issue. This second reply arrived from Stockwell Day and was sent by an @international.gc.ca email address. Stockwell Day’s name is given as the one who sent the email. Since for the time being I’m writing this blog anonymously, I’ve left out the introductory greeting, but everything else is complete. The email from Stockwell Day follows.

January 11, 2010
cc: pm@pm.gc.ca
The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, P.C., M.P.

Your email of October 1, 2009, has been forwarded to me for reply. I appreciate your sharing your concerns regarding the practices of Canadian companies operating at home and abroad and the implementation of the recommendations previously raised in the fourteenth report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in a globally competitive, well-regarded extractive sector. Likewise, Canadian companies realize that a commitment to CSR is a commitment to their own success. The Government of Canada encourages and expects all Canadian companies working internationally to respect all applicable laws and international standards, to operate transparently and in consultation with the host government and local communities, and to develop and implement CSR best practices. Canada believes that voluntary initiatives are the best way to advance CSR principles in a flexible, innovative and effective fashion while improving the competitive advantage of Canadian companies operating abroad.

Following recommendations raised by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade in its 2005 report entitled, Mining in Developing Countries – Corporate Social Responsibility, the Government of Canada organized a series of National Roundtables in 2006 to hear Canadian perspectives on CSR in the extractive sector. A multi-stakeholder Advisory Group, which included industry and non-governmental organizations, issued a report containing 27 consensus recommendations to the Government of Canada in March 2007.

Following additional consultations with industry and civil society in 2008, Canada announced its new CSR policy, Building the Canadian Advantage: A Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy for the Canadian International Extractive Sector, in March 2009. The Strategy will improve the competitiveness of Canadian international extractive sector companies by enhancing their ability to manage social and environmental risks, while at the same time assisting host governments and local communities to manage and benefit from sustainable natural resource development. Building the Canadian Advantage is centred on four complementary pillars designed to engage multiple stakeholders and foster different aspects of CSR.

To support the Canadian international extractive sector in implementing voluntary performance guidelines, the Strategy creates a CSR Centre of Excellence that will develop and disseminate CSR best practices, information, training and tools. The Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum will host the Centre, which is expected to be launched in December 2009. As there is a limit to what companies can provide to support social, health, environment, and education concerns of the communities within which they operate, the second pillar is designed to enhance the capacity of developing countries to responsibly manage their resources, and improve opportunities for economic development. To complement the capacity-building efforts of the first two pillars, the government has begun to create the Office of the Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor to assist stakeholders in addressing issues pertaining to the activities of Canadian extractive sector companies abroad. Dr. Marketa Evans was appointed Canada’s first CSR Counsellor on October 2, 2009, and is currently engaging with stakeholders to develop an effective process.

Building on Canada’s adherence to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the Strategy also commits the government to promoting three widely recognized international CSR performance guidelines: the International Finance Corporation Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability; the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights; and the Global Reporting Initiative. In March 2009, Canada was welcomed as an engaged government at the 2009 Plenary meeting of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.

In addition to Building the Canadian Advantage, the Government of Canada has already undertaken a number of initiatives to foster and promote CSR at home and abroad. As part of Canada’s adherence to the OECD Guidelines, the National Contact Point promotes awareness of the Guidelines and ensures effective implementation as well as assists in the resolution of any specific instances that may be raised regarding alleged breaches of the Guidelines. In 2007, Canada joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which seeks to improve governance in resource-rich countries through the publication and verification of company payments and government revenues from extractive operations. To date, Canada has allocated $1.15 million to the EITI. Also in 2007, Export Development Canada became the second export credit agency in the world to sign on to the Equator Principles, an international benchmark for assessing and managing social and environmental risk in project financing. For more information on the Government of Canada’s latest efforts in the area of CSR, please visit: http://www.csr.gc.ca.

As you can see from the above, the government has responded to the recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade in 2005 and is in the process of implementing a robust CSR strategy that complements the suite of policy and programming already underway.

Thank you for sharing your views on this matter.

Sincerely,

Hon. Stockwell Day
Minister of International Trade and
Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Updated Feb 25, 2010

To read the communication that follows, please click here.

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