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UN watchdog critical of government delays with new corporate ethics ombud


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OTTAWA — Canada’s international reputation will be damaged if it doesn’t give real power to its new watchdog on responsible corporate conduct, warns a United Nations rights watchdog.

Surya Deva, the chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, is in Ottawa this week and will be seeking answers from the government on why it took 15 months to appoint its new “ombudsperson for responsible enterprise.”

Deva said he was disappointed that International Trade Minister Jim Carr commissioned a further legal review, due in June, to assess what the ombudsperson’s powers should be when Carr finally filled the new job three weeks ago.

“Let me say very candidly, things are moving quite fast and if the Canadian government wants to maintain the leadership in this particular field, or in the field of human rights generally, they need to really act now and do certain things,” Deva said in an interview on Monday.

Deva said Canada is falling behind other countries such as France, Germany, Switzerland and Australia in enacting laws to improve the conduct of their companies operating abroad, especially in less developed countries.

“The Canadian government can’t just sit back and think, ‘Oh, we are the leader,’ ” he said. “This is a critical time and initiative and they should completely go ahead and do it.”

Carr’s decision to announce a further legal review also drew condemnation from rights groups when he announced the appointment of Sheri Meyerhoffer, a lawyer with a long record in business and international development.

Deva said if the government settles on anything short of full power to compel companies to supply witnesses and documents in Meyerhoffer’s investigations, it will hurt Canada’s reputation as a human-rights leader.

“If they’re going to go back on that promise, it won’t really send a good signal to the international community.”

The government took too long to choose Meyerhoffer, having left the appointment on its agenda for years, he added.

“This should not have taken this long, and things are not really that complicated if they really wanted to do this,” said Deva. “The Canadian government has been engaging with this issue for a while. It is a not a new topic for them.”

Deva delivered that message again Tuesday at a conference in Ottawa on corporate responsibility that included numerous civil-society groups, government officials, business representatives and lawyers.

Chris Moran, the director general for trade-portfolio strategy at Global Affairs Canada, said the current system gives her department’s 1,200 trade commissioners the necessary leverage to ensure companies act responsibly on foreign soil.

Her branch requires companies to sign an “integrity declaration” that promises good corporate behaviour in exchange for receiving the enhanced services that Canada’s trade commissioners can provide to help them find new business opportunities, she said.

“These are not rights that companies have to those services. Those are enhanced services. These are things that are nice to receive,” Moran told a panel.

If companies don’t live up to their human-rights obligations, those services can be withdrawn, she said.

“It is both a carrot and a stick. So we use it as an incentive to ensure that companies are engaging in good faith with us.”

Catherine Coumans, the research co-ordinator for MiningWatch Canada, dismissed that as “all not binding in any way” on resource companies, some of which she said have violated the rights of local populations in developing countries.

“Those things don’t actually obligate the embassy to act in a particular way or take particular actions. That’s where we’re still stuck.”  

The Liberals promised to enhance corporate responsibility as part of their 2015 campaign platform and announced the details of the new ombudsperson’s office in January 2018.

The new ombudsperson was intended to improve on the current “corporate responsibility counsellor,” which has faced widespread criticism as a toothless entity in addressing misconduct complaints against Canadian companies, mainly in the mining industry.

The reform effort has been spearheaded by Liberal MP John McKay, who introduced a private member’s bill on corporate social responsibility for Canadian resource and energy firms in 2010. It was thwarted by fellow Liberals, who joined with Conservatives in voting against Bill C-300 then.

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

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Minority Government passes Bill C10 on internet freedom. Opponents pleading with Senate to block it.

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Bill C 10 which is expected to fundamentally affect how Canadians experience the internet, has been hammered through the House of Commons.  At 1:30 AM Ottawa time, the minority Liberal Government with help from the BQ and the NDP were able to pass the bill.  In opposition were the federal Conservatives and lone Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould.   The urgency to pass C 10 before an election call expected later this summer resulted in the Liberals actually shutting down debate at the committee level.  That’s only happened twice in the history of the country before now!  The Liberals also attempted to pass secret amendments which were caught by the Conservatives and ruled “out of order” by the House Speaker.

Why the rush?  Opponents are concerned the Liberals, BQ, and NDP are far more concerned with regulating social media use, than they are with boosting individual Canadians creating new content.  It appears the urgency has to do with giving themselves the ability to guide internet content, just in time for the federal election campaign., a group striving to keep the internet “open, affordable, and surveillance-free” calls the government’s bill “outrageously flawed”.  The group published an article called “What’s wrong with Bill C 10?”  which asks and answers 8 key questions surrounding C 10.  The article provides excellent background knowledge for Canadians concerned about the future of the internet.

OpenMedia says the goal of the bill is to expand “Canada’s Broadcasting Act to apply to all streaming audio or video content on the Internet, including Netflix, Spotify, Youtube, and other popular streaming services.”  Streaming services will be forced to make higher payments to the Canada Media Fund which would mean higher rates paid for Canadian users.  According to OpenMedia streaming services will charge higher Canadian specific fees, and may even avoid Canada altogether.

OpenMedia calls C 10 a “cash-grab for traditional broadcast industries” which actually does nothing to serve the new wave of content creators who could really use a boost on the international stage.  As a last ditch attempt to stop the bill, is urging Canadians to email the Senate right now to ask for a REAL democratic examination of Bill C-10.

Conservative critic Pierre Poilievre is especially concerned with the federal government giving itself the power to block unapproved ideas from popular content creators like himself, just in time for the next federal election. Surprisingly, and maybe most concerning of all, both OpenMedia and Pierre Poilievre point out the bill ‘DOESN’T ADDRESS WHAT CANADIAN CONTENT IS’.  The current definition of “Canadian Content” was last updated in 1984, more than a decade before the internet changed everything.

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Loss of Brother to Addiction and Mental Illness Inspires Sister to Raise Money by Selling Face Masks.

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Starting June 10th, until midnight Sunday, June 13th customers across Canada can help raise funds for Mental Health Organizations in their own provinces by purchasing much needed luxury cotton face masks.

Jodee Prouse, from Sylvan Lake, Alberta, co-owner of Service Mask Supply (SMS) is the provider of one of Canada’s best-selling luxury 3-layer Cotton Face Masks. She announced today that they will be donating $1.00 from every mask purchase on June 10, 11, 12 and 13th to Mental Illness Programs and Organizations in communities across Canada. “We all look forward to when we no longer need to wear face masks,” says Jodee, “and we are getting really close. I am proud that we can provide a much-needed product and at the same time allow others the opportunity to come together to raise money for Mental Health in their own communities.”

SMS is excited to announce that for 4 days this week, $1.00 from every mask will be donated to different Mental Health Organizations across Canada. Customers can place their order online, each mask is $5.00, and will ship directly to their homes or businesses. Jodee is proud of her team and orders quickly ship the next business day, leaving from their warehouse in Alberta. All monies collected will go back into each province to where the order was shipped. As an example, Alberta portion will go back to Canadian Mental Health Association Alberta Division, Manitoba to Rainbow Resource Centre and so on. This allows every Canadian the opportunity to make a difference and take part.

From the beginning, SMS had an amazingly simple business model, originally supplying schools and oilfield companies: provide comfortable and affordable masks (each is only $5.00) with patterns that make people smile. Smile. It is what Jodee and her business partner son Ryan believes we need more of right now during these unprecedented times. “My son and I, at different times in our lives, have both struggled with anxiety and depression. We lost a much-loved member of our family when our brother/uncle lost his battle with mental illness and alcoholism when he took his own life in March of 2012. He was only 39. This helped solidify our commitment to helping to eliminate the shame and stigma surrounding mental health.”

Now more than ever we want to bring communities together. And remind people they are not alone.

SMS is proud to be celebrating over 17,000 customers across Canada this week. They know that much of their success has been driven by their passionate customers, repeat business and recommendations to family, friends, and co-workers. “It fills my heart to receive not only Facebook messages and emails daily on how much they love our masks,” says Jodee, “but also the heartfelt words where strangers feel comfortable and safe enough to share some of their own mental health or addiction challenges.”

SMS has over 150 unique colors and patterns with such unique designs as sunflowers, flamingo’s, tie dye, dog lover, pretty kitties, fishing lures, butterflies, hearts, breast cancer, yoga, fine wine, pride, cupcakes and many more. Great for work, play, indoors and outdoors too with sizes for the whole family.

Learn more visit:

For more information you can email [email protected]

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june, 2021

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