Canada’s enhanced Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Strategy, “Doing Business the Canadian Way: A Strategy to Advance Corporate Social Responsibility in Canada’s Extractive Sector Abroad” (available here) for the Canadian mining and oil and gas sectors was announced by the Government of Canada in November, 2014 demonstrating the Government of Canada’s expectation that Canadian companies will promote Canadian values and operate abroad with the highest ethical standards and imposing new consequences on companies who refuse to adhere to endorsed CSR best practices and dispute resolution processes.
Key elements of the enhanced CSR strategy include:
Strengthened support for CSR initiatives at Canada’s diplomatic network of missions abroad, aimed at ensuring a consistently high level of CSR-related service to the Canadian business community around the world, building networks and local partnerships with communities, and reinforcing Canadian leadership, excellence, and best practices in the extractives sector;
Increased support and additional training for Canada’s missions abroad to ensure Trade Commissioners and staff are equipped to detect issues early on and contribute to their resolution before they escalate;
Re-focusing the role of the Office of the CSR Counsellor, including strengthening its mandate to promote strong CSR guidelines to the Canadian extractive sector and advising companies on incorporating such guidelines into their operating approach. The CSR Counsellor will also build on the work conducted at missions abroad by refocusing efforts on working to prevent, identify and resolve disputes in their early stages;
In situations where parties to a dispute would benefit from formal mediation, the CSR Counsellor will encourage them to refer their issue to Canada’s National Contact Point (NCP), the robust and proven dispute resolution mechanism, guided by the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on responsible business conduct, and active in 46 countries;
Companies are expected to align with CSR guidelines and will be recognized by the CSR Counsellor’s Office as eligible for enhanced Government of Canada economic diplomacy. As a penalty for companies that do not embody CSR best practices and refuse to participate in the CSR Counsellor’s Office or NCP dispute resolution processes, Government of Canada support in foreign markets will be withdrawn;
Inclusion of benchmark CSR guidance released since 2009, namely the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas; and
Flexibility to build awareness of a broader range of extractive sector-specific CSR guidance, including those developed in Canada, e.g., the Mining Association of Canada’s Towards Sustainable Mining, and the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s e3 Plus.
Does not constitute legal or other advice and must not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a qualified legal professional in your jurisdiction who has been fully informed of your specific circumstances. Information may not be up-dated subsequent to its initial publication and may therefore be out of date at the time it is read or viewed. Always consult a qualified legal professional in your jurisdiction.