Thursday, October 12, 2006

Over The Hills, Far Away; Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Last month, in Ecuador’s Imbabura province, “ecoterrorists” kidnapped seven technical staff associated with the Vancouver-based mining company Ascendant Copper. Two of the workers escaped almost immediately; three were released the following day, and the last two hostages were freed after a four-day standoff, but only after 60 police officers moved in. The result was the arrest and conviction of two radicals from an extremist organization operating in the mountains.

That’s what Ascendant Copper says, anyway.

Increasingly, disturbing allegations are arising regarding the conduct of Canadian mining companies in the Congo, Romania, El Salvador, India, the Philippines, Peru, Mexico, and on and on. Sorting through all the claims and counterclaims shouldn’t be left to voluntary or nongovernmental organizations. And the companies shouldn’t be expected to regulate their own behaviour. But that’s pretty well the way it works.

The House of Commons standing committee on foreign affairs and international trade says it shouldn’t work that way. Last year the committee released a damning report, which attracted little attention, calling for a strict monitoring regime to ensure that Canada’s mining firms working abroad comply with clear environmental and social-responsibility standards, as well as rules governing workers’ rights and indigenous land rights.

All Ottawa decided to do was to proceed with a series of “roundtable” discussions. . .

That's from my Chronicles column this week. Mining Watch Canada is the best place to keep an eye on these things.

Still no word on Salah Chaudhury.


Post a Comment

<< Home