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Annual Report 2010

Canada’s National Contact Point

For the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises

  1. Introduction
  2. The Canadian Policy Context
  3. Update on the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Strategy for the Canadian International Extractive Sector
  4. Peer Review of the NCP of the Netherlands
  5. Institutional Arrangements
  6. Information and Promotion
    1. Information and Promotional Tools
    2. Promotion with Social Partners
    3. Promotion with the Government
    4. Updating the Guidelines
  7. Inquiries
  8. Submissions and Implementation in Specific Instances
  9. The Past Decade
  10. Concluding Remarks
  11. Glossary

1. Introduction

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (Guidelines) is an instrument of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  The recommendations set forth in the Guidelines are a voluntary, multilateral framework of standards and principles on responsible business conduct.

As a member of the OECD and signatory to the Guidelines, Canada is obligated to establish a National Contact Point (NCP).  The role of the NCP is to promote awareness of the Guidelines and ensure their effective implementation.  This report provides a summary of the activities undertaken by Canada’s NCP in the past year (June 1, 2009 – May 31, 2010).

2. The Canadian Policy Context

The Guidelines continue to be an important element of the Government’s approach to promoting corporate social responsibility (CSR).  A number of federal government departments are active in this area, through activities such as promotion of awareness, information dissemination, facilitation of dialogue among interested parties, promotion of CSR in international fora (such as the G8, OAS, UN, APEC and the Francophonie) and support for the development of international norms.  The Guidelines are a central part of these activities, their contribution heightened by the fact that they represent the shared views of forty-two national governments on what constitutes appropriate corporate behaviour. 

The business community in Canada is promoting CSR as well, with an increasing number of associations and enterprises adopting codes of ethical, environmental and social conduct and related management strategies.  The Guidelines offer a frame of reference for private sector initiatives and the NCP serves as a mechanism to facilitate cooperation between the Government and the business community in the promotion of CSR.  The Guidelines and NCP also provide a forum for engagement with other key stakeholders, such as labour groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on CSR issues.

The Guidelines make an important contribution to the Government’s policy on promoting sustainable development.  Achieving sustainable development requires the responsible engagement of all sectors of society, including the business community.  The Guidelines encourage corporations’ contribution to sustainable development and help to strengthen the basis of mutual confidence between enterprises and the communities in which they operate. 

Thus, while the Canadian NCP has a clear mandate to implement the Guidelines, its activities also support broader policy objectives of the Government. 

3. Update on the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Strategy for the Canadian International Extractive Sector

While adherence to the OECD Guidelines constitutes a core component of Canada’s overall CSR approach, the promotion of CSR is a comprehensive undertaking which involves policies, programs, initiatives and projects that are complementary and far-reaching in a variety of fields. 

On March 26, 2009 the Government of Canada announced the adoption of a new CSR strategy named Building the Canadian Advantage: A CSR Strategy for the Canadian International Extractive Sector. The four components of the strategy were described in last year’s NCP annual report.  There have been a number of key developments in the implementation of the strategy since it was announced.

The first component of the strategy involves supporting initiatives to enhance the capacities of developing countries to manage the development of minerals and oil and gas, and to benefit from these resources to reduce poverty.  This component is being led by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).  CIDA has established an internal focal point with expertise in extractive sector development issues and continues to provide support to developing countries to enhance their capacity to manage their extractive sectors. 

The second component of the strategy involves the promotion, in addition to the Guidelines, of the following CSR performance guidelines with Canadian extractive companies operating abroad:

  1. International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards on Social & Environmental Sustainability for extractive projects with potential adverse social or environmental impacts;
  2. Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (Voluntary Principles) for projects involving private or public security forces; and,
  3. Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) for CSR reporting by the extractive sector to enhance transparency and encourage market-based rewards for good CSR performance.

The promotion of these CSR performance guidelines is being done primarily through the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).  Each of the three performance standards are recognized in the Strategy for their particular relevance to the extractive sector and are complementary to Canada’s commitments under the Guidelines as well as to the OECD Risk Awareness Tool for Multinational Enterprises in Weak Governance Zones

In March 2009, Canada was welcomed as an Engaged Government in the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, a set of guidelines to help companies in maintaining the safety and security of their operations within an operating framework that ensures respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Following the submission of its Work Plan, Canada was officially accepted as a full participating member of the VPs on March 19, 2010, during the VP’s tenth Annual Plenary in London, UK. As such, Canada is now a member of the VPs Steering Committee and, among other initiatives, will be working with the organization on the Implementation Guidance Tools project that will create clear, practical guidelines for on-the-ground action for its members.

The third component of the strategy involves supporting the development of a CSR Centre of Excellence within an existing institution outside of government.  The purpose is to encourage the Canadian international extractive sector to implement these voluntary performance guidelines, including the OECD Guidelines, by developing and disseminating high-quality CSR information, training and tools.  The Centre serves as a forum through which sector stakeholders can provide timely access to high-quality CSR tools and information for clients in industry, civil society and government, at home and abroad.  The Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum is the host organization for this centre.  The Centre for Excellence in CSR was launched on January 13, 2010. 

The fourth component of the strategy involves the establishment of the Office of the Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor (“Counsellor”) to assist stakeholders in the resolution of CSR issues pertaining to the activities of Canadian extractive sector companies abroad.  The mandate of the Counsellor relates exclusively to the activities of Canadian extractive sector companies operating abroad.  The Counsellor reviews the CSR practices of Canadian extractive sector companies operating outside Canada; and, advises stakeholders on the implementation of endorsed CSR performance guidelines. The Counsellor reports directly to the Minister of International Trade. 

The Counsellor and the NCP operate as two separate and distinct bodies.  Canada’s NCP for the OECD Guidelines continues to be responsible for promoting the effective implementation of the Guidelines across all industry sectors, as well as reviewing any specific instances which it receives, including those in the extractive sector.  The NCP remain the primary authority with respect to the OECD Guidelines.  The Counsellor and the NCP will ensure that overlapping activities are closely coordinated. The first Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor was appointed in October, 2009. Consult the website of the Office of the Counsellor.

4. Peer Review of the NCP of the Netherlands

During the summer of 2009 the Dutch NCP invited the NCPs of Canada, Chile, France, Japan, and the U.K. to participate in a peer review of the Dutch NCP.  The Canadian NCP viewed the invitation as a good opportunity to engage in peer learning and contribute to the evolution and strengthening of the NCPs.  A member of the Canadian NCP Secretariat was designated as the Canadian NCP representative and acted as chair of the peer review team.  The peer review took place between September, 2009 and March, 2010. 

The objectives of the peer review were to: (1) evaluate the structure, practice, effect and results of the Dutch NCP; (2) to create a learning process for all participating NCPs; (3) to assess issues which may serve as useful input into any possible future revision of the OECD Guidelines; and (4) to provide a review report which may be used as input for the Dutch NCP’s preparation of its own evaluation report for the Dutch Parliament in June 2010.

The peer review team carried out the review through a series of meetings with stakeholders, a questionnaire survey, review of documents, and discussions.  The peer review team was impressed by the Dutch NCP’s performance and standards. A final report was issued in March 2010 containing twenty-eight recommendations.  This report was presented to the Working Party of the OECD Investment Committee at its meeting in March 2010. The peer review report may be obtained on the OECD website.

The peer review proved to be a useful learning opportunity which has had an impact on the operations of the Canadian NCP.  The Canadian NCP is currently developing a number of documents, including a Terms of Reference for the Interdepartmental NCP Committee and a Procedures Guide, to make its operations more robust. 

5. Institutional Arrangements

The key responsibilities of Canada’s NCP are to promote the Guidelines, respond to inquiries and contribute to the resolution of specific instances of corporate conduct in relation to the Guidelines.  Important guiding principles for the NCP’s activities include visibility, accessibility, transparency and accountability.

The NCP is an interdepartmental committee chaired by DFAIT at the Director-General level.  Partner members include Industry Canada (IC), Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), Environment Canada (EC), Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), Finance Canada (FIN) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The Secretariat of the NCP is located in the Trade Commissioner Service Support Division. 

The Trade Commissioner Service Support Division has a team that advises trade commissioners in Canada and abroad on CSR and coordinates an annual CSR-related program, which includes training and financial support for trade commissioners on CSR-related activities.  Given the trade commissioners’ contributions to the project, coupled with the usage of extensive networks both domestically and abroad, Canada’s NCP has been able to raise awareness of the Guidelines and effectively promote their implementation.

The Canadian NCP’s key business and labour interlocutors on the Guidelines are the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC), the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN).  The NCP also has frequent contact with domestic and international NGOs.

6. Information and Promotion

a. Information and Promotional Tools

The Canadian NCP web site is a useful tool for promoting the Guidelines. It has also become an efficient way to communicate information on the Guidelines to overseas missions. Canadian embassies, high commissions and other DFAIT offices in Canada and abroad have been informed of the Guidelines and the importance of this instrument for the promotion of CSR.

Overall, the web site offers a convenient point of reference for a growing number of Canadian organizations and businesses that are seeking information on CSR.  Between January 2009 and March 2010 inclusive the website received an average of 500 views per month.

Various other federal government web sites promote the Guidelines, including the Trade Commissioner Service’s internal web site, DFAIT’s CSR web site, and the sites of other departments and agencies, such as IC and NRCan.

The NCP has also been promoting awareness of the existence of the OECD Risk Awareness Tool for Multinational Enterprises in Weak Governance Zones.  The “What’s new” section of the NCP website indicates that the tool is recommended for companies operating in weak governance zones and provides a link to the document on the OECD web site.

b. Promotion with Social Partners

Primary focus is being given to the extractive sector (mining, oil and gas).  Because Canada is a major player in the global extractive sector, both the Canadian Government and the Canadian industry share an interest in maintaining a positive image of Canada in this sector, and ensuring that Canadian businesses contribute positively to the broader social and environmental objectives of the communities in which they operate.  Promoting the Guidelines in this sector is a concrete way for the Government to engage Canadian companies in supporting these objectives.

Canadian embassies, high commissions and other DFAIT offices in Canada and abroad provide support and services to Canadian firms interested in expanding their international business operations.  As a result, DFAIT offices are an excellent vehicle for the promotion of the Guidelines in cooperation with the business community.  DFAIT offices incorporate CSR-relevant information, including references to the Guidelines, in the business briefings to Canadian clients.  In addition, they communicate the Government of Canada’s commitment to CSR to both Canadian, local business audiences and relevant stakeholders.

Officials from Canada’s NCP were present at the annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) International Convention, Trade Show and Investors Exchange in Toronto on March 8-10, 2010, to promote awareness of the Guidelines.  This event is widely considered to be among the most important mining conferences in the world.  

DFAIT has undertaken a number of initiatives to enhance the capacity of its officers through information and training sessions, as well as an Intranet Web portal offering guidance, reference material, inventory of national and international experts, best practices and other learning tools on CSR. 

DFAIT has created a CSR Fund to assist Canadian offices abroad and in Canada to foster and promote CSR to clients and engage with host-governments, communities, indigenous organizations, NGOs and other stakeholders in CSR-related initiatives (e.g. CSR seminars, the development of mining toolkits and the other CSR tools, etc.). In 2009 the CSR Fund’s $180,000 was used to fund 35 CSR-related projects at Canadian missions around the world.  This year, the CSR Fund’s resources have been increased to $250,000 which is being used to fund 49 CSR-related projects.

Communications and marketing materials have been developed to promote CSR within the Government and to Canadian stakeholders.  DFAIT is also increasing its ability to engage in policy development through a series of research analysis projects aimed at understanding the CSR context internationally.

In Latin America, CIDA and NRCan have provided assistance to resource-rich developing countries to improve their governance capacity in the extractive sector.  Canada has also held discussions with free trade agreement (FTA) partners, including Colombia and Peru, on how best to address CSR in the context of negotiations.  The FTAs with both these countries include CSR provisions that are directed at the parties, encouraging them to promote voluntary principles of responsible business conduct with their business communities.  In addition, the Labour Cooperation Agreements (LCAs) – which are parallel agreements to the FTAs with Colombia and Peru – explicitly recognize the importance of encouraging voluntary practices of CSR within the territories of the parties in order to ensure coherence between labour and economic objectives.

Canada is also active in promoting CSR-related principles in the financial arena.  The Canada Investment Fund for Africa (CIFA) publicly discloses its principles related to business integrity, and social, environmental, and health and safety objectives.  The CIFA fund managers also report periodically to the Government of Canada on CSR measures implemented in specific investments and reference to these measures is included in CIDA’s Departmental Performance Report, submitted annually to Parliament.  Canada also supports the consistent implementation of the World Bank Group International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards.  Canada is a State Party to the UN Convention against Corruption.

In February 2007, Canada endorsed the EITI, which seeks to ensure revenue transparency in the extractive sector. After which Canada has held three national outreach sessions on the initiative (the only supporting country to have done so) in order to promote the EITI’s principles as well as its application to the extractive sector. Most recently, on the margins of the 2010 Globe Conference in Vancouver, Canada hosted an EITI session to help develop the Government of Canada’s contribution to the EITI Board meeting that will examine the evolution of the initiative.

Industry Canada (IC) continues to promote the Guidelines as part of its CSR activities to strengthen the capacity of Canadian business to develop and use CSR practices, tools and knowledge towards  positive economic, environmental and social performance results, and ultimately towards greater competitiveness of Canadian companies.  IC participated in a meeting of Canadian industry associations in October 2009 and promoted the Guidelines at that time.  Links to the Guidelines and the NCP appear on the department's CSR website, which receives about 7000 hits per month.

Industry Canada finalized the implementation of commitments made in its Sustainable Development Strategy (2006-2009), including those related to CSR.  Accordingly, IC supported and disseminated the results of the following research and other activities: the development of a management tool to help Boards of Directors integrate CSR principles into their decision-making processes; a learning tool to help companies conduct marketing for sustainability; further development of the SME Sustainability Roadmap through the addition of a social dimension, and modules on buildings, transportation and services;  a tool to help companies effectively  embed sustainability principles within and across corporate structures; research on the materiality of  GRI indicators for institutional investors; and research on the integration of sustainability curricula at Canadian universities’ faculties of business, engineering, and actuarial sciences.

Industry Canada also supported research in support of the development of a North American framework for sustainable consumption and production (SCP) under the United Nations-led Marrakech Process. Central to IC’s work on SCP is the view that sustainable consumption and production practices can enhance competitiveness, innovation and productivity. SCP is a key pillar in research work being supported by IC under the Pathways to Low Carbon Society project, led by the Policy Research Initiative.  IC also supported research on the identification and development of an Actor and Activity Map for SCP in North America.

Environment Canada (EC) is actively collaborating with the private sector, academia, non-governmental organizations and other departments  to accelerate corporate engagement in sustainability.  Environment Canada’s engagement around business sustainability includes defining and supporting research projects clarifying the link between sustainable governance practices and competitiveness and building on projects outputs to develop information products and tools for  Canadian businesses.

In collaboration with Industry Canada, Environment Canada has supported the development of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Governance Guidelines. These Guidelines provide guidance to board of directors and senior management on a best practice approach for CSR governance. It includes an assessment tool to help boards of directors identify current practices and gaps and a roadmap to help board of directors develop a CSR governance framework or methodology. It also includes a list of CSR questions for Senior Management to help board of directors understanding the firm’s approach to CSR management.

EC also promotes the use of clear and measurable targets to achieve corporate sustainability based on its Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators. Canadian companies can use these indicators to measure their progress towards reducing the environmental impact of their activities within Canada. Environment Canada has also released in 2009 an Environmental Code of Practice for Metal Mines. The Code describes operational activities and associated environmental concerns of this industrial sector. The document applies to the complete life cycle of mining, from exploration to mine closure, and environmental management practices are recommended to mitigate the identified environmental concerns.

The Canadian social partners for the OECD Guidelines include the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC), the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN).  Each of these three partners was invited to contribute to this report with a description of their activities promoting the Guidelines.  In 2009, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce promoted the Guidelines and the NCP to its members across Canada, Members of Parliament, Senators and the general public in the context of discussions regarding legislation and policies governing responsible business conduct.  The Canadian NCP will be meeting with each of these social partners to discuss future initiatives and means by which the objectives of raising awareness of the Guidelines and their successful implementation can be further achieved.

In 2006, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) developed a Mining Information Kit for Aboriginal Communities in collaboration with indigenous communities and the mining industry with a view to strengthen indigenous communities and their capacity to better understand and take advantage of the opportunities offered by mining development in their region. This approach has been well received both domestically and internationally. The Mining Information Kit for Aboriginal Communities and has been adopted by a number of countries (the Philippines, Australia, New-Caledonia, Norway, Guatemala, Ecuador, Chile, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso) and it has been adapted for a number of other countries (Peru, Mexico and Colombia).

Given the success of this Tool Kit within Canada and uptake by several other countries, NRCan is working with the Arctic Council to develop a Circumpolar Mining Tool Kit for Indigenous Peoples and Northern Communities, which will be applied to the circumpolar arctic region and based on the experience of the original Canadian Information Kit.

c. Promotion within the Government

Promoting the Guidelines within the government is an essential aspect of the NCP’s responsibility to raise awareness of the instrument.  A number of departments and agencies interact directly with the business community, labour groups and NGOs through their programs and consultative activities.  This is an important channel for alerting these groups of Canada’s commitment to support the Guidelines.  The interdepartmental structure of the NCP greatly facilitates promotion within government.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) provides information sessions on the Guidelines for overseas trade officials.  Indeed, Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service recognizes the importance of including CSR as an element of its promotional activities.  Responsible business conduct by Canadian companies abroad reinforces the positive effects that trade and investment can have on human rights, the environment and competitiveness.  Canada’s trade commmissioners are encouraged to incorporate the promotion of CSR (including the OECD Guidelines) into the delivery of the core services provided to Canadian companies operating abroad.  DFAIT is, with that perspective in mind, enhancing the capacity and knowledge of government officials on CSR through training and devlopment tools.  

One example of information sessions is the CSR workshop that DFAIT held for approximately 55 trade commissioners who were attending the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) International Convention, Trade Show and Investors Exchange in Toronto on March 8-10, 2010.  The workshop included an overview of the government’s CSR policies, as well as a learning exercise involving the discussion of several hypothetical and realistic scenarios involving multiple CSR-related themes. The workshop this year was enhanced by the participation of a number of academics, consultants and representatives of  NGOs who exchanged views and contributed to the peer to peer learning experience.  

During the past year DFAIT held a number of information sessions for purposes of informing trade commissioners and Heads of Missions of the Government’s CSR policies and the obligations under the OECD Guidelines, including the role and function of the NCP.  Similar information sessions have also been regularly organized for officers at DFAIT headquarters in Ottawa.  DFAIT also regularly invites visiting guests to speak to the staff of DFAIT and other government departments about various aspects of CSR and, in the process, participating officials articulate government engagement in the CSR file, including commitments with respect to the OECD Guidelines.  Further, DFAIT officials, up to the Director-General level, have regularly travelled to various regions of the world and participated in CSR-related presentations and workshops which included Canadian officials working abroad and the local stakeholders.  These presentations addressed the government’s CSR policies as well as the OECD Guidelines and the NCP.  

Industry Canada (IC) continues to promote the Guidelines internally with a view to improving the department’s understanding and awareness of the business case for CSR and sustainability and its related economic benefits within companies, sectors and the economy as a whole. Within the department, CSR and sustainability related training, seminars and workshops are regularly featured and the Guidelines are often referenced at that time. IC participates in an interdepartmental working group under the CSR Memorandum of Understanding. 

Industry Canada is the lead for the Government of Canada and the Government Stakeholder Group within the Canadian Advisory Committee on the development of the ISO guidance standard on Social Responsibility (SR 26000). IC consults widely across government on the formulation of the government’s position on various issues related to the standard.   IC has worked to ensure that the Guidelines will be referenced in the Annex to the Standard as a useful tool for companies and others in the development of their CSR policies.

Environment Canada participates in several interdepartmental initiatives aimed at promoting CSR and improving coherence of governmental CSR actions. These include the CSR Memorandum of Understanding, interdepartmental working groups for the implementation of the CSR strategy, the development of ISO 26000, the management of NCP’s activities, the review of the OECD guidelines. In the context of the preliminary assessment of the need for a review of the Guidelines, EC has introduced and circulated the Guidelines to a numerous audience within the department.

Environment Canada is actively promoting governmental action and initiatives on CSR within the Department through intradepartmental meetings and news releases. Environment Canada has published a news release to inform departmental employees of the launch of the Centre for Excellence in CSR and of the resources made available through the Centre.

The Labour Program of Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC), which is part of the Canadian NCP, has specific expertise and particular interest in labour-related principles.  The Labour Program manages Canada’s participation in the International Labour Organization (ILO) and promotes compliance with the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, which encompasses the following fundamental principles and rights: freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour, the effective abolition of child labour, and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment.  The principles are embodied in the OECD’s Guidelines and in the Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy.

A member of the Secretariat of Canada’s NCP made a presentation on the Guidelines at a federal-provincial-territorial governments’ workshop on Canada-ILO issues at an annual meeting, held in March 2010, in the offices of the Labour Program of HRSDC.  The meeting was attended by representatives of provincial and territorial ministries of labour. The meeting served as a forum to raise awareness of the Guidelines with provincial and territorial counterparts and to discuss different aspects of the Guidelines.

d. Updating the Guidelines

From January 25 to March 25, 2010, the Canadian NCP underwent a stakeholders’ consultations process in order to develop its position on the relevancy and terms of reference of the impending revision of the OECD Guidelines. In total, twenty-one umbrella organizations representing various groups of interest were consulted formally, including through letters, e-mails and direct interactions, including industry associations, labour associations, academia, aboriginal groups, and other interested non-governmental organizations. Notices were also posted in the Canada Gazette as well on federal government departmental websites namely: Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Industry Canada, and Environment Canada. Canada’s provincial governments’ representatives were also notified of Canada’s consultations process. Finally, the Guidelines review process was advertised in various meetings, including at the Canadian Environmental Network-IP Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on CSR, held on March 3rd, 2010. A number of organizations, including Canada's social partners the Canadian Labour Congress and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, provided extensive and very useful comments which informed Canada's position on the impending review's terms of reference, and will inform Canada’s position on the review itself, when it takes place.

7. Inquiries

A number of inquiries about the Guidelines were received by the NCP in the past year.  Inquiries received via e-mail are often from think-tanks and academic institutions looking for information on Canada’s experiences with the Guidelines.  Other inquiries come through meetings with businesses or NGOs.  Canadian embassies, high commissions, and other DFAIT offices in Canada and abroad have also requested information on the Canadian NCP.  Often such inquiries are about the nature of the Guidelines and their possible application in certain situations.  As well, the Guidelines are occasionally raised in public correspondence with Ministers.

Inquiries were also received from other NCPs regarding the institutional structure of the Canadian NCP and the procedures used in dealing with different issues.  The Canadian NCP also consulted with a number of other NCPs on similar matters.

8. Submissions and Implementation in Specific Instances

The Canadian NCP was involved in four specific instances during the past year.

In the first specific instance the Canadian NCP was contacted by several community and NGO organizations shortly after a Canadian company acquired a minority interest in a consortium that is developing an offshore gas field project in Ireland.  The consortium consists of three companies from three different adhering countries. One of the companies has been acting as the project manager.  The community and NGO organizations had previously raised issues about possible non-observance of the OECD Guidelines with the NCPs of each of the companies’ home country as well as the NCP of Ireland.  The Commentary on the Guidelines provides that issues are to be dealt with by the NCP in whose country the issues have arisen, in this case Ireland. The Canadian NCP consulted with the NCPs that were involved in the matter and the Canadian company.  As the Irish NCP was already acting as the lead NCP, the Canadian NCP offered its assistance and requested to be kept informed of developments.

In the second specific instance the Canadian NCP was contacted by the NCP of Norway and asked for an assessment of issues raised in relation to the operation of a subsidiary of a Norwegian aquaculture company operating in Canada.  The initial submission of a request for review was made by Norwegian NGOs with the Norwegian NCP in relation to a Norwegian multinational enterprise with subsidiaries in other countries. The Canadian NCP reviewed the documents received from the NGOs and the Norwegian parent company.  The NCP further consulted with federal and provincial officials involved in the regulation of the acquaculture industry.  A reply was sent to the Norwegian NCP with a summary of the Canadian NCP’s views on the issues raised and whether they merited further examination.  The Norwegian NCP currently has the lead on the matter.  The Canadian NCP asked to be kept informed of developments.

The third specific instance involved the receipt of a submission from a community group and an environmental NGO who raised a number of issues relating to the observance of the Guidelines by a Canadian mining company at a particular mine in Guatemala.  The NCP has conducted an initial assessment and informed the parties that the issues raised were considered to merit further examination.  The NCP’s good offices were offered for purposes of facilitating a dialogue between the parties with a view to resolving the issues raised.

The fourth specific instance involved the receipt of a submission from an NGO in Mongolia regarding the development of a mining project involving a Canadian mining company.  A number of environmental issues were raised relating to the observance of the Guidelines.  At the time of writing the NCP is conducting an initial assessment.

9. The Past Decade

Since the last revision of the Guidelines in 2000 Canada has maintained an NCP which has evolved and strengthened over the years.  The institutional arrangement has always consisted of an interdepartmental committee, chaired by DFAIT where the Secretariat resides.  While this structure has not changed, recently consideration has been given to expanding the membership by inviting another federal government department with expertise in indigenous peoples’ issues to join the interdepartmental committee on a permanent basis.

In terms of promotion of the Guidelines, the NCP has acquired more and more experience with the promotional task and increasingly pursues opportunities to raise awareness of the Guidelines in as efficient a manner as possible.

With respect to the handling of specific instances, although the number of specific instances that the Canadian NCP has dealt with over the past decade has been modest, valuable experience was acquired and practical lessons were learned in each case.  During a period of not having any cases the NCP’s relevance was sustained through its promotional work and responding to inquiries about the Guidelines.  However, the recent increased number of requests for review has raised awareness of the Guidelines and the NCP among governments offices and stakeholders. Thus, the NCP continues to offer a unique and valuable mechanism by which to raise and resolve issues of concerns relating to observance of the Guidelines.   A key challenge for the NCP continues to be the allocation of appropriate resources to the NCP given the difficulty in predicting the number of submissions that may be received and the unique circumstances of each situation.

10. Concluding Remarks

The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises continue to be a central element of the Government’s approach to promoting CSR, domestically and internationally.  The interdepartmental structure of the NCP facilitates the promotion of the Guidelines within the Government and other departmental constituencies, including business, labour and NGOs.   Throughout the coming year, the NCP looks forward to new opportunities to promote the Guidelines and contributing to any possible updating of the Guidelines with a view to making them increasingly more relevant in this rapidly changing environment.

11. Glossary

APEC: Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation

CIDA: Canadian International Development Agency

Counsellor: the Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor 

CSR: Corporate Social Responsibility 

DFAIT: Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

EC: Environment Canada

EDC: Export Development Canada

EITI: Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

Francophonie: Francophonie Countries

G8: Group of Eight

GRI: Global Reporting Initiative

HRSDC: Human Resources and Skills Development Canada

IC: Industry Canada

IFC: International Finance Corporation

MNE: Multinational Enterprise

NGOs: Non Governmental Organisations

NRCan: Natural Resources Canada

OAS: Organization of American States

Voluntary Principles: Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights

UN: United Nations