Extractive Industries

Tar Sands demoCanadian Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) have long been organizing to call this country’s extractive industries to account in their overseas operations. More recently this work has been extended to domestic extractive industries such as the bourgeoning Shale Gas extractive practice, known as fracking, and the Alberta Tar Sands.  The negative impact of Extractive Industries is of particular concern to the CND Sisters and Associates because it directly touches on many issues of concern as voiced by JPIC:  water, climate change, justice for indigenous peoples, trafficking, human rights violations and economic justice. The presence of our members in Central America only heightens our
awareness and concerns with regard to the impacts of such industries.

Egregious examples of how this country’s name has been sullied by less than responsible corporate actions include how Canadian oil companies profited in Sudan during the civil war there, and how mine disasters destroyed tribal areas of the Philippines. NGOs worked to bring knowledge of these atrocities before Canadians.

In June of 2005, a Parliamentary Subcommittee tabled a report, “Mining in Developing Countries – Corporate Social Responsibility” which received unanimous support among legislators. The report called for accountability from companies in terms of the social and environmental impacts of their actions. 

Although government, industry and NGOs did not agree on every point, the Report broke new ground in arriving at many consensus recommendations. Prime Minister Harper has made public mention, during his final press conference of the G-8 in Germany in July, of how Canada is leading the world as a result of this process. However, the government has yet to adopt the consensus recommendations, and the political will to do so may be on the wane.

Tar Sands demoIn two different letters to the Minister of Foreign Affairs this year, the Leadership Team of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame has demanded action. Of special concern to the CND is the fact that a Canadian mining corporation, Goldcorp Inc., has undertaken gold mining in two countries where the sisters minister. Problems with these mines have been reported in both Guatemala and Honduras (where the corporation has actually been fined for shoddy practices.)

As well, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace has encouraged Canadians to call mining corporations to account for their overseas operations during two years of educational and advocacy campaigns. Over 152,000 petitions were collected and presented to the government in October 2007. The campaign, fully supported by the JPIC Office, calls upon the government to immediately establish an Office of an Ombudsperson, which would investigate and report on complaints arising form overseas mining operations of companies based in Canada. This was one of the major consensus recommendations of the Roundtable Report.