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Canada’s new corporate responsibility ombudsperson falls far short of its promise

Writing in the Business and Human Rights Journal, our director Karyn Keenan relates how promises of a robust watchdog to investigate human rights complaints against Canadian multinationals gave way to an office that lacks the essential powers to do its job.

For more than a decade, civil society has campaigned for the creation of an ombudsperson capable of effectively investigating allegations of abuse by Canadian extractive companies in their operations abroad. Karyn recounts how the Canadian government committed to meeting that demand before it created the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise in 2019, but in the end stopped short of granting the office the independence and investigative powers needed to make credible findings of fact. It must immediately remedy these deficiencies, she argues, before the office can fulfill its promise as a mechanism for corporate accountability.