Letter of CCCB President to the Prime Minister of Canada Concerning Canadian Mining Industry
The Most Reverend Douglas Crosby, O.M.I., Bishop of Hamilton and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), has written the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, concerning Canadian mining operations in Latin America and their detrimental effects on the natural environment and local populations, including Indigenous peoples. The letter was also sent to the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable James Gordon Carr, Minister of Natural Resources, and the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs.
Bishop Crosby stated that Canadians “cannot remain indifferent to the cry of the poor or to the repercussions of environmental degradation on our common home. We cannot accept the unethical way Canadian mining companies have been operating in Latin America or other regions of the world, taking the absence of effective regulatory schemes as a reason to shirk their ethical responsibilities.” His concerns echo those of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM) as well as more than 200 Latin American and international organizations who sent a joint letter to the Prime Minister on 25 April 2016 — a letter which has yet to receive a response. Among the recommendations listed in that letter, Bishop Crosby reiterated there was an urgent need for the following:
- The creation of objective and impartial means (such as an ombudsperson) to monitor and investigate complaints of abuses in connection with Canadian mining companies abroad;
- Access to Canadian courts that would allow violations of environmental and human rights’ legislation by Canadian mining companies operating abroad to be prosecuted under Canadian law;
- An end to Canadian government action, whether through aid, trade, technical assistance or diplomacy, that seeks to influence the adoption or modification of regulatory frameworks in recipient countries for extractive projects; and
- A halt to the pursuit of free trade and investment agreements that favour Canadian mining companies over people and the environment, in particular an end to investor-state international arbitration mechanisms, which foreign investors use to protect their investments and to evade regulation or accountability for abuses.