Earth defenders and garment workers are suffering staggering human rights abuses: so why has Canada’s new corporate accountability watchdog been de-fanged?
On April 8, Canada’s Minister for International Trade Diversification announced the appointment of the new Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE). The position was first announced to great fanfare 15 months ago, but sat vacant until Calgary lawyer Sheri Meyerhoffer was appointed. Unfortunately, we have learned that the Ombudsperson’s mandate and powers are much weaker than promised.
The most startling difference is that the Ombudsperson is not currently imbued with investigatory powers such as the ability to compel documents and testimony from parties to complaints. In order for the Ombudsperson to be effective and to prevent future human rights abuses in the context of Canadian extractives and garment projects, the office must have these powers.
The government has ordered a review of the options for providing the Ombudsperson with these powers even though it has had 15 months since the post was first announced to do so. We don’t need more studies: we need a watchdog with teeth!
It is urgent that we act now!
Over the next 4 weeks, please join us in calling on Minister Carr to grant the Ombudsperson the powers she needs to independently investigate complaints, compel documents and testimony, and make recommendations designed to provide human rights abuse victims with the remedies they seek.