The National Observer reports on the legal opinion published by legal experts Jorge Viñuales and Kate Cook, which explicitly singles out Export Development Canada (EDC) as the largest supporter among G20 export credit agencies of fossil fuels during the 2016-18 period.
A new legal opinion finds that governments will be breaching international law if they continue to allow their export credit agencies to finance fossil fuel infrastructure and activities overseas. Above Ground program officer Karen Hamilton says the opinion "makes it clear that export finance for oil, gas and coal might become the next target of climate litigation."
The government's measures aimed at countering the flow into Canada of goods produced by forced labour in Xinjiang and elsewhere appear to have had little impact. Above Ground communications officer Lori Waller argues that Ottawa has the tools at its disposal to ensure companies take real action, primarily by building on the work done by the United States.
Legal advice sought by Ottawa confirmed that without the promised investigative powers, the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise's effectiveness may be compromised. Our director, Karyn Keenan, states that the current incarnation of the CORE is not a meaningful mechanism for victims of overseas corporate abuse to seek justice.
The office announced by the federal government in 2018 to handle complaints of human rights abuses perpetrated by Canadian multinationals still doesn’t have a complaints mechanism in place. Once it is up and running, the office will be hampered by its limited investigative powers, argues Above Ground director Karyn Keenan.
Investments by Canadian companies in energy and mining projects have made Canada one of the top five foreign investors in Xinjiang, where many industrial facilities exploit the forced labour of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. At least one has reportedly contracted with a supplier known to use "surplus labourers" in the region.
Hidden camera reveals ‘appalling’ conditions in overseas PPE factory supplying Canadian hospitals, expert says
On paper, Canada has prohibited the import of goods made by forced workers. Yet "millions of disposable gloves manufactured by Malaysian companies in conditions that experts say have the hallmarks of forced labour have come into our ports," reports CBC.
Canadian company PetroTal says it has shut down work at its Bretana oil field in the Peruvian Amazon after three indigenous people were killed in a clash with police while protesting the company's operations. The police were called in at the company's request, according to PetroTal, after protests broke out at another oil drilling site in the region.
“Routing public financing through an 'opaque Crown corporation with minimal government oversight' is not the way to be accountable for the way pandemic recovery funds are spent—or for the proportion of that money going to fossil fuel bailouts, three leading advocacy groups argue in a backgrounder.”
“Environmental Defence, Oil Change International, and Above Ground ... released a report Wednesday highlighting the lack of transparency in how the publicly backed EDC evaluates climate risk associated with loans to companies, and how continued investment in oil and gas runs contrary to the country’s emissions reductions targets.”
In a report released Tuesday, sustainable development consulting firm Horizon Advisors recommends that the government legally bar its export bank from backing fossil fuel projects such as the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
EDC vows greater transparency in how it discloses rejections related to corruption, financial crimes
Canada's export bank is pledging greater transparency in response to accusations of excessive secrecy in its business dealings. Our program officer Karen Hamilton tells the Globe that EDC's new disclosure policy is not enough, and that only legal reforms can reverse the Crown corporation's "long-standing pattern of facilitating harmful business."
The government has directed Export Development Canada to more carefully consider the human rights impacts of its business decisions. The Globe notes that human rights and environmental groups like Above Ground have long called for greater federal oversight of EDC.
In this Spanish-language radio interview, our director Karyn Keenan explains how government backtracking on a key corporate accountability measure led to the mass resignation of Above Ground and 13 other civil society organizations from a federal advisory body.
Fossil-friendly Canadian export agency cited for poor disclosure, environmental and human rights violations
“A federal export credit agency with a history of massively supporting fossil industry exports over clean technology is taking fire for failing to consider the environmental, human rights, and ethical implications of its financial support to Canadian businesses.”
“When [Export Development Canada] was considering its loan to EPM, there were already public debates in Colombia about Hidroituango’s environmental impact, its social cost, the engineering changes and corruption in the tendering process. The Canadian lender was not deterred.”
A government review has exposed a lack of transparency and weak social and environmental controls at Canada’s export bank. Above Ground’s communications officer states that without strong legislative oversight, the government risks profiting from corruption and human rights abuses.
Above Ground is calling on the federal government to publish the full results of its fossil fuel subsidies review. "I think it’s important for the public to know how much money Canadians are providing in support to fossil fuel companies,” states program officer Karen Hamilton.
“As South Africa’s biggest banks decided these wealthy, well-connected brothers were too toxic to touch, a Canadian Crown corporation was still doing business with them. Leaked e-mails and documents tell the story of how EDC’s vetting process broke down.”
Human rights groups accuse the government of backtracking after Ottawa outlines the mandate and powers of Canada’s new corporate accountability watchdog. Above Ground’s director Karyn Keeenan says “the government has weakened the office in response to pressure from industry.”
See no evil: How Canada is bankrolling companies accused of bid-rigging, graft and human-rights violation
A sweeping investigation into Export Development Canada exposes a “pattern of secrecy and lax supervision” at Canada’s export bank. Above Ground’s director notes that numerous EDC clients have been penalized for their conduct, yet “[t]his doesn’t seem to be ringing any alarm bells for EDC.”
Advocacy groups respond to Export Development Canada’s new human rights policy. Above Ground program officer Karen Hamilton says the policy reflects the agency’s lack of influence over its clients’ behaviour, stating, “If we want to see change, it has to be legislated.”
“The review comes after a company insider told CBC News the engineering giant secured billions in loans from the Crown agency over the years, some of which he alleges was intended to pay bribes. If true, it could mean taxpayers have unwittingly backed illegal payments.”
A report from the federal environment commissioner finds that government efforts to identify fossil fuel subsidies are “incomplete.” Above Ground’s Karen Hamilton says Ottawa must eliminate all public finance for fossil fuels, including billions in export credit provided each year.
SNC-Lavalin received at least $800 million in loans from Export Development Canada after news broke of an RCMP investigation into alleged corruption at the firm. Above Ground’s director calls for legislative controls to limit EDC’s discretion in supporting companies accused of malfeasance.
Canada’s environment minister tells Above Ground that its review of “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies is ongoing, three years after Canada committed to eliminate them by 2025. Above Ground’s Karen Hamilton says obtaining information from the government is “like pulling teeth.”
A new report by Oil Change International reveals that Canada's export credit agency provided $62 billion in support to oil and gas companies between 2012 and 2017, compared to only $5 billion in backing for the clean-tech sector.
In this radio interview, our program officer Karen Hamilton explains why Above Ground and 16 other organizations are calling for legal reforms to prevent Export Development Canada from supporting companies engaged in abuses overseas.
Canada’s trade minister has directed Export Development Canada to strengthen its human rights and anti-corruption policies. Above Ground’s director says Ottawa must go further and impose strong legislative controls to prevent its export bank from engaging in harmful practices.
A corruption investigation has prompted calls for the South African government to suspend a US$1.2-billion deal with Bombardier — a deal that received financial backing from the Canadian government.
“Export Development Canada is mishandling loan risks and keeping board members in the dark about key financing arrangements, according to a scathing report by federal Auditor-General Michael Ferguson.”
Canada’s export bank is at risk of paying corruption-tainted dividends to the government due to weaknesses in its regulations and screening procedures, says a new report from Above Ground.
Export Development Canada’s deal with a controversial South African business family turns sour, with reports that the Guptas defaulted on EDC’s loan and may be using the aircraft it financed for unlawful means.
Ottawa lent $1 billion to a mining company that allegedly avoided nearly $700 million in Canadian taxes
“Should EDC be providing over a billion dollars of financing to a company that’s engaging in tax avoidance?” asks Above Ground’s director, commenting on a report that alleges EDC client Turquoise Hill used shell companies to dodge Canadian corporate income tax.
The Canadian government has announced it will finally create an office to investigate alleged abuses by Canadian companies operating abroad.
Export Development Canada’s deal with South Africa’s controversial Gupta family “serves as an example of how EDC can inhabit a grey zone between facilitating Canadian businesses and financing corruption.”
Canadian miner Kinross Gold violated local residents’ rights when it expanded its Brazilian mine, reveals a report by Above Ground, prompting calls for Ottawa to suspend its financial support for the company.
“A trio of civil cases winding through the courts signal a breakthrough in efforts to hold Canadian-based mining companies accountable on home turf when they’re accused of violations abroad, human rights and legal observers say.”
“One of Canada’s leading jurists is urging judges here to be more creative in developing the common law to provide access to justice for those harmed by Canadian mining companies.”
iPolitics sums up commentary on Canada’s human rights responsibilities vis-a-vis its mining firms from former Supreme Court Justice Ian Binnie and other speakers at Above Ground’s symposium.
A Canadian government loan to a controversial South African business family raises questions about client screening standards at Export Development Canada. “EDC refuses to provide detailed information about its review process,” notes Above Ground director Karyn Keenan.
PotashCorp and Agrium have come under fire for the human rights implications of buying phosphate from Western Sahara. Both firms enjoy financial support from Canada’s public pension plan and public export bank.
The U.S.’s export bank has heavily financed Pemex even though the oil company’s alarming accident and injury rate is a matter of public record, notes Above Ground director Karyn Keenan.
A government office charged with ensuring that Canadian multinationals operate ethically abroad is ineffective, reveals a report from Above Ground, MiningWatch Canada and OECD Watch.
Human rights advocates accuse Pacific Exploration & Production of violating labour regulations, causing pollution and harming indigenous communities at its oil concessions in Colombia.