Liberal Member of Parliament Nathaniel Erskine-Smith (Beaches-East York) has promised to present to the House of Commons a petition by Canadian Jesuits International (CJI) and Development and Peace calling for the passage of legislation that would require Canadian companies to be more accountable for human rights abuses in their operations overseas.
Jenny Cafiso, CJI Executive Director and a concerned constituent in Erskine-Smith’s riding, and Wendy McCreath, of Development and Peace, presented the petition with 407 signatures during a meeting with Erskine-Smith on Monday, March 27, in his constituency office in Toronto.
In presenting the petition, Cafiso explained that CJI doesn’t only support projects of its Jesuit partners in Africa, Asia and Latin America, but also conducts outreach and advocacy in Canada to raise awareness about “how our policies and businesses” affect people in the Global South.
The petition seeks the passage of two private Members’ bills, Bill C-263 and Bill C-262. Bill C-263 aims to give the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) the power to compel Canadian corporations to provide documents and testimonies in response to complaints about actions that violate human rights. Bill C-262 will require Canadian companies to exercise due diligence with respect to human and environmental rights throughout their global supply chains.
The signatures were gathered during an event organized by CJI and Development and Peace. For CJI, this was part of its Fall 2022 campaign, Green Justice: Human rights and energy transition, which focused on ensuring that the solutions to address climate change do not worsen the inequality between the Global North and South. The main speaker, Fr Jacques Nzumbu SJ spoke about how the boom in renewable energy and green transition has given rise to child labour and exploitation in artisanal mines.
The campaign sought to raise awareness about how the lack of mandatory human rights due diligence legislation has allowed the extractive industry to operate in the Global South with impunity.
Also present at the meeting with Erskine-Smith were Pieter Niemeyer, CJI Outreach Coordinator, and Victor Reyes, CJI Operations Manager.