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Statement by Sheri Meyerhoffer, Canada Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE), on the publication of the Office’s first Final report

March 26, 2024

Today, we are releasing our first final report, which presents the findings of an investigation into the activities of Dynasty Gold Corporation, a Canadian mining company based in Vancouver.

In the report, I conclude that a human rights abuse occurred at a mine in China. I also recommend to the Minister of International Trade that a range of trade measures be applied against the company.

Investigations into the activities of several other Canadian companies remain in progress. More final reports will be published in 2024–25.

In the meantime, the government has announced that it will review the mandate of my office. I look forward to offering my unique perspective.

Government can and should better equip the CORE to fulfill its mandate to promote and ensure responsible enterprise on the part of Canadian companies operating outside of Canada. In particular, the CORE should be granted the ability to compel documents and testimony from the companies it investigates.

Why? The investigation into Dynasty serves as a useful illustration.

The company declined to engage with the CORE in any meaningful way; most of our attempts at communication were ignored. Through independent investigation, we were able to discern facts about the company’s operations in China. However, we never had an opportunity to question Dynasty’s leaders or develop an understanding of the reasons the company failed to protect human rights.

If our goal as Canadians is to encourage responsible enterprise by Canadian companies operating outside Canada, the Ombudsperson must be able to uncover why, and how, companies are falling short of their responsibilities. We need to hear it directly from them, and we need to share that information with the public.

Enhanced investigative tools are just one of the ways in which the CORE’s structure could be improved. Many other useful recommendations are included in 2 research papers on ombud independence that can be found on our website. Meaningful reform would allow the CORE to build on all that it is achieving in its current form.

Indeed, as we release our first final report, it is worth noting that many of our interactions with Canadian companies are not related to investigations. We speak at conferences across the country, offering guidance on how to establish and embed respect for human rights in business practices. We hold webinars to share best practices. We also engage directly with companies to help them develop the guidelines and due diligence mechanisms they need to be responsible corporate citizens. As I have said to my staff, the true measure of the CORE’s success would be a world in which Canadian companies engage and provide remedy when a human rights abuse occurs or, even better, prevent human rights abuses from occurring at all. We are not there yet, and until we are, it is our job to work towards that end.

I was drawn to this role by the potential of the CORE – a body that could call out wrongdoing, encourage responsible behaviour and enhance Canada’s global reputation. While I am proud of the progress we are making, I still see enormous potential to strengthen the CORE’s mandate and independence.

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