MP wants to kill bill

MP Jim Abbott has introduced a motion to kill Bill C-300, An Act respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil or Gas in Developing Countries.

The House of Commons assigned the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development responsibility to conduct an in-depth study of the bill’s implications on April 22, 2009.

“After well over a year of study, we have heard overwhelming testimony that this bill is not a good piece of legislation,” Abbott said in a statement. “Naturally, the government, and every Canadian supports the idea of making sure our companies are good global citizens, but the experts have been clear: this bill does not accomplish that, and in fact does not protect the legitimate and honourable Canadian companies that operate overseas.”

The committee heard testimony from Export Development Canada, the Canadian Pension Plan, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, the Mining Association of Canada and scores of other organizations that voiced serious concerns with the proposed legislation.

“One of the over-arching problems with this bill is the proposed process,” Abbott said. “There was a national roundtable on this subject, where members from all sectors, NGOs, mining companies, and the government, all agreed that we need an independent complaints process and mechanism to monitor potential human rights abuses. This bill proposes to politicize the entire process. It ignores the roundtable’s consensus. That consensus led the government to establish a Canadian Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor, Marketa Evans.

“It is our opinion that Bill C-300 should not proceed any further for multiple reasons,” Abbott said. “The fact that it ignores the roundtable’s recommendation for an independent process, such as our corporate social responsibility counsellor, is our primary concern. Other concerns include the fact that the process in the bill would encourage frivolous claims, the proposed punitive process will deeply hinder investment capital processes, and legitimate companies will not be able to make use of Export Development Canada’s financing support. Above all, while investment, stock, and venture markets and exchanges are immensely volatile, the process proposed in the bill has the potential to cause significant economic damage with no recourse to address the potential financial and reputational losses an innocent company may incur.”