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NEWS: Office of the Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor an expected failure

CBC reports, “A federal agency (the Office of the Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor) created by the Conservative government to mediate complaints about Canadian mining operations abroad has spent more than $1.1 million in the past two years, but has yet to mediate anything.”

“The federal mining watchdog is supposed to be helping to resolve allegations of environmental damage and human rights violations involving the hundreds of Canadian mining companies operating in foreign countries. To date, the agency has fielded only two complaints. One case quickly came to a dead end and the other appears to be in limbo.”

“At the same time, the agency has racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in travel, entertainment, training, meetings, reports and other expenses, documents obtained by CBC News show.”

“Its senior official, Marketa Evans, has been flying around the world to conferences, roundtables, workshops and other meetings — in all, 47 trips to Africa, South America, Washington and cities across Canada. She earns up to $170,000 a year.”

“Renovations to a federal government office to accommodate the agency’s three employees alone cost Canadian taxpayers $189,000.”

“Liberal MP John McKay tried unsuccessfully to get the previous Parliament to enact tough laws to crack down on Canadian mining operations abroad. He says the Harper government instead created Evans’s organization and gave it a mandate that was a ‘recipe for failure’. Evans has no authority to investigate anything, McKay said, and participation in mediation of complaints is entirely voluntary. If a company accused of wrongdoing decides it doesn’t want anything to do with the process, that’s the end of it.”

“Catherine Coumans, the head of MiningWatch, an independent group that monitors the activities of the mining industry agrees with McKay: ‘I think with the mandate this agency has, this is a waste of taxpayer dollars.'”

“Trade Minister Ed Fast said he sees no problem with it, calling it a ‘common sense approach’.”

The Council of Canadians plans to bring people from Latin America, Africa and Canada together in Vancouver on June 1-3 for a ‘Shout Out’ to raise the profile of the environmental and human rights violations by Canadian mining companies and to strategize across-borders on how to take popular action to stop these ongoing injustices.

The full CBC article is at http://www.cbc.ca/m/touch/news/story/2012/02/19/canadian-mining-mediation-agency-spending.html.