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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Canada CSR counsellor wraps up consultations on procedure

Written and edited by Liezel Hill, published online for Mining Weekly here.

7th August 2010

TORONTO ( – Canada's new corporate social responsibility (CSR) counsellor for the extractive industries Marketa Evans has completed public consultations on a review mechanism that will direct the way her office operates, according to a statement issued on Friday.

The CSR counsellor position was created by the federal government in October last year, with a mandate to review CSR practices of Canadian companies outside of the country, and advise firms on recognised best practices.

Workshops and meetings were held in Calgary, Mexico, Ottawa, Montreal, Mali, Senegal, Vancouver and Toronto, and a web conference took place in early July, Evans said.

Written submissions will still be accepted until August 13, and the next step will be the drafting of a final report on the consultations.

A number of legal issues have been raised over the mandate given to the CSR counsellor's office, and advice is being sought from legal experts as well as lawyers in the federal government. These inputs will also be reflected in the final rules of procedure document.

Evans is aiming to have the rules of procedure for reviews conducted by her office ready for recommendation to the Minister of International Trade by September 7.

“We anticipate therefore to launch the process at some point in the fall,” she said.

Evans told Mining Weekly Online in May that it was important that the rules of procedure are clear and detailed, to increase the chances that the mining industry will participate in what is effectively a voluntary review process.

“Our objective is to build a useful, constructive mechanism which will act as an honest broker, fostering constructive dialogue and problem solving to resolve disputes which relate to the international operations of Canadian oil, gas and mining companies,” she said in Friday's statement.

Some politicians and non-governmental groups have criticised the CSR counsellor role as toothless, advocating instead the controversial Bill C-300, tabled by Liberal Member of Parliament John McKay, which seeks to give the Canadian government the right to investigate complaints of environmental or human rights offences by Canadian-based firms overseas, and to withhold public money from companies found to have breached CSR standards.

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