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Building the Case for a Home-State Grievance Mechanism: Law Reform Strategies in the Canadian Resource Justice Movement

  • Charis KamphuisEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Rights book series (CHREN, volume 3)

Abstract

The vast majority of mining companies operating globally are Canadian. For nearly two decades, social justice advocates systematically documented the concerns of mine-affected communities in relation to Canadian operations in developing countries, producing a significant body of empirical work that described not only the nature of the social conflicts associated with Canadian companies but also the mechanisms whereby the Canadian government provides companies with political, economic and legal support. Beginning in 2005, activists, policy makers, industry leaders and international human rights bodies participated in a sustained debate over the appropriate Canadian regulatory responses to these issues. This chapter analyses the strategies of law reform advocates between 2000 and 2017 to critique Canadian policy and the overseas conduct of Canadian extractive companies. It gives special attention to the 2016 law reform proposal from Canadian civil society, the draft Business & Human Rights Act. The strategies profiled here are of special interest because they resulted in a significant, if not unexpected, breakthrough in early 2018 when the Canadian government announced a globally unprecedented new grievance mechanism: the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise. The discussion is of interest to those concerned with law’s potential (and limitations) as an instrument of social justice in the global economy, and particularly for communities affected by foreign resource extraction.

Notes

Acknowledgements

This chapter was supported in part by the work of the Justice & Corporate Accountability Project (JCAP). Thank you to Lavinia Floarea and Heather Hall for research assistance and to the organizers of the 2017 Thompson Rivers University (TRU) Arts Colloquium (Canada) and the 2016 Human Rights in the Extractive Industries conference at Goethe-University (Germany) for the opportunity to discuss some of the materials presented here. This paper also benefited from conversations with Shin Imai, Ruth Buchanan and Robert Wai. Any errors are my own.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Thompson Rivers UniversityKamloopsCanada

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