Media Coverage


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Media Coverage

Canada’s watchdog for corporate abuses abroad struggles to act, leaving devastated communities behind

Globe and Mail | April 9, 2023

The office of the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise was created in 2019 following years of campaigning by groups such as Above Ground for investigation into alleged human rights abuse by Canadian multinationals. Lacking real investigative powers, the office has done little to help people and communities defend their rights against corporate abuse, writes The Globe.

Canada’s importation of seafood supports labour abuse

Toronto Star | January 5, 2023

As a major seafood importer, Canada must take action to fight forced labour and other abuses of fishery workers' rights, argues this opinion piece by Georgina Alonso of Above Ground and Amélie Nguyen of the Centre international de solidarité ouvrière.

2,398 for the U.S., 1 for Canada: That’s the lopsided record on targeting forced labour

CBC | December 23, 2022

Canada badly lags behind the U.S. in blocking products of forced labour from being imported, reports the CBC. With comments from Above Ground's Lori Waller on the weaknesses of a government-backed bill aimed at combatting forced labour though corporate reporting, and the merits of Bill C-262—the only legislation before Parliament that would force companies to take action to root out forced labour in their supply chains.

RCMP continues probe of Canadian oil company ReconAfrica

Globe and Mail | October 3, 2022

ReconAfrica remains under investigation by the RCMP, which says it's investigating alleged corruption and "possibly also securities fraud” related to the company's business in Africa. Questions about ReconAfrica's practices had previously been raised in complaints filed with securities regulators, including by Above Ground.

Denuncian inacción de agencia canadiense tras colapso de presa en Colombia

Radio Canadá Internacional | July 6, 2022

En 2018 casi se derrumbó la represa hidroeléctrica más grande de la historia de Colombia. Dos años antes, la agencia crediticia de Canadá había otorgado un préstamo de 466 M de dólares a EPM, constructora del proyecto. Tras accidente, organismos canadienses Above Ground y Amnistía Internacional Canadá denuncian pasividad de la agencia.

Will Canada lead or follow in developing laws to prevent child and forced labour in our supply chains?

CBA National | May 24, 2022

Canada needs to get its act together now, not later, on a law to purge supply chains of human rights abuses, contends this article in the Canadian Bar Association's National magazine. Noting criticisms of reporting laws like Bill S-211 as "nothing better than corporate image-polishing efforts," it highlights how a true diligence law would fundamentally differ: by imposing penalties on firms that fail to act to prevent or stop abuses.

Mitigating risk exposure to forced labour in the supply chain

McCarthy Tetreault | October 25, 2021

In a blog post, law firm McCarthy Tetreault cites our latest report, "Creating consequences," to describe the extent of human rights abuses reported in the Uyghur region of China and their links to Canadian supply chains.

Canada’s forced labour import bans go unenforced

Global Trade Review | July 21, 2021

International news coverage of our report "Creating Consequences," which calls for stricter enforcement of Canada's import ban on slave-made goods, and for a new human rights due diligence law similar to those in force in Europe.

Legal opinion singles out Canada on oil and gas financing

National Observer | May 5, 2021

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.

Legal opinion puts governments ‘on notice’ over export finance for fossil fuels

Reuters | May 4, 2021

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."

Rights activists skeptical as Canadian fashion brands carefully deny using China forced labour

National Post | May 4, 2021

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.

Canadian firms operate in China’s Xinjiang region

Globe and Mail | January 18, 2021

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.

Canadian oil company stops operations in Peru after deadly Indigenous protests

Radio Canada International | August 10, 2020

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.

EDC backing will add to Canada’s fossil industry bailout, watchdog groups warn

The Energy Mix | July 22, 2020

“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.”

Export bank’s work lacks transparency: report

Winnipeg Free Press | July 22, 2020

“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.”

Ottawa orders Export Development Canada to examine lending practices

Globe and Mail | September 26, 2019

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.

Conducta empresarial responsable: activistas acusan a Trudeau de traición

Radio Canadá Internacional | August 20, 2019

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.

Environment Canada urged to release its probe of fossil fuel subsidies

National Observer | June 19, 2019

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.

Rules for new corporate ombud criticized for deferring to companies

Canadian Press | June 10, 2019

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.”

New EDC human-rights policy lacks power, say workers and watchdogs

Canadian Press | May 1, 2019

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.”

SNC-Lavalin received billions in support from federal export agency

Globe and Mail | February 15, 2019

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.

Trade Minister Jim Carr says EDC must learn from past business ‘mistakes’

Globe and Mail | September 15, 2018

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.

Inside one of Canada’s most secretive agencies

Walrus Magazine | December 19, 2017

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.”

Federally backed mine accused of human rights abuses

The Tyee | December 12, 2017

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.

Bringing justice home: NGOs and miners still at odds

iPolitics | September 30, 2017

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.

Canada and the Looting of ‘Africa’s Last Colony’

The Tyee | June 22, 2017

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.