The National Contact Point (the “NCP”) for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (the “Guidelines”) contributes to the resolution of issues that arise relating to implementation of the Guidelines. The NCP offers a forum for discussion and assists the business community, employee organisations and other parties concerned to deal with the issues raised in an efficient and timely manner and in accordance with the Guidelines. For more detail on the Canadian NCP's approach to handling issues that may arise, please consult the Role of the National Contact Point in Helping to Resolve Issues.
Any individual, organisation, or community (“stakeholder”) that believes a multinational enterprise’s actions or activities have breached the Guidelines may lodge a formal request for review regarding a “specific instance” with the NCP of the relevant country. Stakeholders who wish to lodge a formal request with Canada’s NCP may consult Information Requirements for Raising a Specific Instance.
Since 2000, the Canadian NCP has received submissions from interested stakeholders regarding corporate conduct and the OECD Guidelines for MNEs. Some of these have been considered as specific instances. A description of these cases and/or relevant documents are found below and may also be found in the NCP annual reports. The identities of the parties involved in specific instances that the NCP determined did not merit further consideration have been withheld.
In July 2001, the NCP received a submission from Oxfam Canada involving the operations of First Quantum Minerals Ltd in Zambia. The NGO reported that the operations of the company were not respecting three OECD Guideline recommendations: 1) Chapter II, paragraph 2, regarding respect for human rights; 2) Chapter II, paragraph 7, regarding development of practices that foster confidence and trust between companies and the societies in which they operate; and, 3) Chapter V, paragraph 2(b), regarding communication and consultation with communities on environmental, health and safety policies. The central underlying issue that gave rise to the submission was the impending removal of local farmers from company-owned land. To address this issue, the Canadian NCP facilitated a flow of communications between the company's headquarters inCanada and the Canadian office of the NGO. Both Canadian parties in turn communicated with their operations inZambia where face-to-face meetings took place. While there was a variance in the facts and opinions reported on each side, a resolution was reached after the company met with groups from the affected communities and worked out an approach whereby the farmers could continue to use the land in the short-term. The Canadian NCP sent a final communication to the Canadian company, copied to the Canadian NGO, that welcomed the spirit of cooperation demonstrated by both parties. The NCP also encouraged the company to maintain an open line of communication with the Canadian NGO and other groups concerned about the welfare of people affected by the operations of the company in Zambia. Throughout the process, the Canadian NCP kept its counterpart inSwitzerland informed of developments.
In October 2002, the Second UN Panel of Experts Report on Illegal exploitation of natural resources and other riches in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) included an annex listing companies which, in their view, violated the Guidelines. In October 2003, the UN published a subsequent report in which seven of the eight Canadian companies were listed as issues "resolved - no further action required." One company was listed as "Pending Cases with Governments". The NCP accepted the Panel's conclusions and followed up with the "eighth" company Kakanda Development Corporation. In response to the NCP's follow-up actions, the company replied with a letter describing their involvement in the DRC. The letter indicated that the company had not been active in the DRC since 1997 and they had officially halted all activities in the DRC as of June 4, 2004. The NCP subsequently brought this case to a close as a specific instance procedure.
The NCP received a request for review in November 2002 from the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) regarding the operations of Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. in Burma. The request for review focused on elements of the Guidelines’ chapter on Employment and Industrial Relations. Following a review of the submission, the NCP decided that the CLC submission merited further examination under the Guidelines, and held a number of discussions with each party and offered to facilitate a dialogue between the two sides. Ultimately the NCP was not able to proceed with the dialogue as there was no agreement between the parties to participate in the process. A letter was sent to both parties in February 2006 to formally bring the NCP's involvement with the submission to a close.
A Canadian labour union submitted a complaint to the NCP onNovember 29, 2004concerning the operations of a foreign multinational enterprise in one of the Canadian provinces. The union alleged the company had violated Guidelines’ recommendations of the Employment and Industrial Relations Chapter. As labour issues fall under provincial jurisdiction, the NCP's consideration of whether to pursue the matter entailed a thorough examination of the remedies available in the province in question. The NCP determined that the provincial labour regulatory regime provided the appropriate procedure to address the issues raised and informed the labour union.
An international labour union submitted a complaint to the NCP onJanuary 25, 2005concerning the operations of a Canadian multinational enterprise in a non-adhering country. The international union was acting on behalf of a local union. The unions alleged that the company, through its handling of a labour dispute with its employees, had violated recommendations of the Guidelines chapter on Employment and Industrial Relations. The international union met with the NCP to present its concerns. The NCP was also in contact with the company to get its side of the story. Information relating to the labour dispute was also obtained from Canada's mission in the non-adhering country. The mission was informed that a process was underway to resolve the matter led by the local office of the Department of Labour to get the company and the local union to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the agreed final decisions/settlements. In light of that development, and the fact that the union workers returned to work, the NCP decided that it would be inappropriate for Canada's NCP to seek the participation of the parties in a dialogue in an alternative forum. The NCP sent a letter to both parties in November 2005 informing them of the NCP decision.
The NCP received a request for review dated May 16, 2005 from Mining Watch Canada (MW), Friends of the Earth Canada (FoE) and DECOIN (Defensa y Conservacion Ecologica de Intag) regarding the conduct of Ascendant Copper Corporation in Ecuador. The issues raised included respect for national law, human rights, refraining from seeking exemptions, disclosure policies, and communication with the public and employees on environmental, health and safety impacts.
The NCP’s initial assessment determined that the issues raised in the submission merited further examination and offered its good offices to Ascendant and DECOIN to participate in an NCP facilitated dialogue. While both parties initially agreed to participate, in January 2006, the NGOs withdrew from the process, citing their disagreement with the set terms of reference for the meeting, specifically the need to maintain confidentiality. In response to this action, the NCP sent the NGOs and Ascendant letters indicating that the NCP remained open and willing to facilitate a dialogue consistent with the Guidelines should the parties wish to reconsider their decision. Furthermore, the NCP encouraged Ascendant to continue to independently pursue ongoing dialogue with communities affected by their operations with a view to resolving outstanding issues. Finally, the Canadian NCP indicated an intention to monitor Ascendant's operations in Ecuador via the Canadian Embassy in Quito.
In August 2005, the NCP received letters from a coalition of NGOs requesting that the NCP investigate the operations of an international company incorporated in Canada operating in a non-adhering country. The NCP sent a reply letter to each of the NGOs informing them that the NCP's primary function is to play a facilitative or mediating role in resolving problems and not carry out investigations. The NCP also relayed that that it had informed the company of the communications the NCP had received from Canadian NGOs and that the company expressed a willingness and interest in meeting with these NGOs to discuss their operations in the non-adhering country. In November 2005, the NCP facilitated a meeting between the company and interested NGOs to provide parties with an opportunity to present their points of view and to objectively discuss the issues in a non-confrontational forum. Following the meeting, the NCP offered to host a follow-up meeting between the company and the NGOs, but the NGOs felt that this would not be necessary since there was now adequate contact between the company and their groups.
The Canadian NCP was contacted by the NCP of Norway in 2009 and asked for an assessment of issues raised in relation to the operation of a subsidiary of a Norwegian aquaculture company operating inCanada. 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 had the lead on the matter. The Norwegian NCP offered to mediate the dispute and the parties came to an agreement. A Final Statement was posted on the Norwegian NCP’s website on August 11, 2011.
On December 9, 2009, Frente de Defensa San Miguelense (FREDEMI), a Guatemalan NGO, assisted by Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL), an NGO based in Washington D.C. (the “notifiers”), filed a request for review with the Canadian National Contact Point (NCP). A number of issues were raised in relation to the Marlin Mine in Guatemala, owned and operated by Canadian company Goldcorp Inc.
The issues raised related to the recommendation that enterprises should “respect the human rights of those affected by their activities consistent with the host government’s international obligations and commitments”. The notifiers indicated that they were seeking the closure of the mine and a statement from the NCP.
The NCP’s initial assessment was that the issues raised merited further examination and offered to facilitate a dialogue between the parties. The offer was accepted by the company. However, the notifiers declined the offer. The NCP attempted to explore whether the notifiers would be willing to participate in facilitated dialogue without any confidentiality requirements. The notifiers also declined the NCP’s second offer of facilitated dialogue with more flexible confidentiality requirements and reiterated their request for a full investigation of the facts, including a field visit and for the NCP to issue a final statement.
On May 3, 2011, the NCP issued a Final Statement and recommended that the parties participate in a constructive dialogue in good faith with a view to addressing the issues raised.
An NGO submitted a request for review on April 1, 2010 relating to a mining development project in a non-adhering country led by a Canadian MNE. The NGO believed that the company was not observing the provisions of the OECD Guidelines that enterprises should contribute to economic, social and environmental progress with a view to achieving sustainable development; and that enterprises should conduct an appropriate environmental impact assessment. In June 2010, the MNE submitted to the NCP a list of completed and pending Environmental Impact Assessments, including one by the World Bank. The NCP found the studies to be complete and of high quality, and accordingly advised the notifiers in the initial assessment that the issues did not warrant further examination by the NCP under the OECD Guidelines. Since the request for review was submitted, the company has offered to hold quarterly meetings with the notifiers and a number of meetings have already taken place. The NCP closed its file.