OTTAWA â€“ Peter Julian, NDP MP (New Westminster-Burnaby) tabled Private Memberâ€™s Bill C-331 that would ensure that the Canadian judicial system is accessible to victims of human rights abuses that are committed abroad by corporations, or others actors.
â€œWhen global corporations abroad, including some Canadian mining companies, conduct business in a way that does not respect human, labour and environmental rights, they must be held legally accountable,â€� said Julian. â€œThe problem is that the legal system in many of these countries is dysfunctional and unable to provide justice to victims in the places where those violations occur. That is why the Canadian justice system must be allowed to play its part.â€�
Julianâ€™s Bill C-331 would create the necessary legal framework by amending the Federal Courts Act to permit foreign nationals to bring forward tort claims in Canada that take place abroad. In addition to giving the Federal Court original jurisdiction in these cases, Julianâ€™s bill would set out the manner in which the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal can exercise their jurisdiction to hear and decide these tort claims.
â€œCommunity leaders, workers, human rights defenders, environmental rights activists and Indigenous Peoples are at the greatest risk of becoming victims of corporate malfeasance abroad. Civil society must be given the opportunity to demonstrate these rights violations in a court of law and be justly compensated for damages caused by egregious business practices. The Canadian legal system must provide foreign victims of this abuse the chance of obtaining justice in a court by directly dealing with this unfortunate global reality. It is an unacceptable double standard that Canadian corporations can assist, or even instigate, serious rights violations abroad with impunity when that same conduct would be prohibited in law at homeâ€�, stressed Julian.
Bill C-331 reinforces other options aimed at building a stronger global framework of corporate accountability, which include appointing a Canadian Human Rights Ombudsperson for extractive industries and referrals to bodies such as the International Criminal Court, where applicable.