Room for dialogue on mining ethics

By Doug Olthuis and Ian Thomson, Ottawa Citizen, 10 March 2013

Over the past three years, mining industry leaders and civil society organizations have been quietly meeting through a federal government initiative called the Centre for Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility. One of the four pillars of the Government of Canada’s CSR Strategy that was launched in 2009, the Centre had become a multi-stakeholder space that brought together mining companies, Canadian civil society groups and government representatives from Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Natural Resources Canada and the Canadian International Development Agency. (...)

We joined the Centre’s executive committee because we felt the Centre was the only promising element in the government’s CSR strategy. It offered a space for frank exchanges of perspectives and the potential to launch projects that might benefit mining affected communities, as well as other stakeholders. The three other pillars of the CSR strategy — endorsement of voluntary CSR guidelines, the creation of a new grievance process without any real powers, and new CIDA programming in the extractive sector — do not address the very real problems associated with Canadian mining overseas. Now it appears that the Centre is to become mere window dressing as well, without the resources or the government commitment to develop creative solutions and support positive change on the ground. (...)

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Photo courtesy of the Centre for Excellence in CSR