Statement of Priorities and Accountabilities for the Canadian Commercial Corporation
September 6, 2019
Mr. Douglas J. Harrison
Chairperson, Board of Directors
Canadian Commercial Corporation
700–350 Albert Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0S6
Dear Mr. Harrison:
For nearly 75 years, the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) has helped Canadian exporters sell their goods and services to foreign-government buyers. The $1.3 billion in new export contracts signed by the CCC in 2018/19 is a testament to the organization’s continuing impact for Canadian innovation, jobs and prosperity.
A principal goal of this government is ensuring that Canadian businesses have the support they need to succeed in a highly competitive global marketplace. It is critical that all federal trade services have the right mandates, structures and tools to deliver maximum benefit to Canadian exporters.
As the CCC approaches its ninth decade of operation, it is important that we reflect on the organization’s role in today’s rapidly evolving international environment and look to renew
our vision for its future. For this reason, I have asked Global Affairs Canada to undertake a comprehensive review of the CCC.
A comprehensive review will explore how the federal government can most effectively help exporters win international procurement contracts, while ensuring that Canadian values such as openness, transparency and respect for human rights are upheld. Key themes for the review will include the CCC’s:
- mandate, governance and functions;
- impact for exporters, including potential to support more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs);
- coordination and fit with other federal business development and trade services; and
- capacity to maintain alignment with the Government of Canada’s international, defence and economic policy priorities.
A wide array of stakeholders will be invited to contribute to the review process, including exporters, industry associations, chambers of commerce and non-government organizations.
I know that I can count on the CCC to cooperate fully with Global Affairs Canada in this important undertaking.
Statement of Priorities and Accountabilities
I am pleased to provide the following Statement of Priorities and Accountabilities to inform the CCC’s ongoing operations and strategic direction while the comprehensive review is underway.
I ask that the CCC focus on the following priorities:
Support Canada’s Trade Diversification Strategy
Expanding and diversifying Canada’s trade is essential to the prosperity of all Canadians. The government’s Trade Diversification Strategy is focused on helping more Canadian businesses—of all sizes and sectors—grow by taking advantage of commercial opportunities abroad, especially in markets made more accessible by Canada’s new free trade agreements, including the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
I recognize the CCC’s progress to date in diversifying its contracting partners and enabling more Canadian companies to benefit from the CCC’s capacity to leverage the Canadian brand. I encourage the CCC to continue its efforts to help firms from more sectors secure a wider variety of international procurement contracts. I welcome the CCC’s commitment to strengthening relationships with partners in sectors such as aerospace; construction and infrastructure; information and communications technology; healthcare; clean technology, environment; energy; and defence. Greater diversity among the CCC’s contracting partners will support Canada’s trade and growth agenda, as well as the CCC’s financial sustainability. I therefore ask the CCC to continue its business development and diversification initiatives, while carefully assessing the results to ensure the best use of available resources.
To support alignment with the Trade Diversification Strategy, I request that the CCC continue to provide Global Affairs Canada with quarterly updates on the CCC’s planning, activities and results.
Support SME Exporters
SMEs constitute 99 per cent of all businesses in Canada and employ more than 10 million Canadians. These firms often embody the best of Canadian entrepreneurship, innovation and high-growth potential. However, only 11.7 per cent of them export. In order to maximize Canada’s economic growth and expand the middleclass, we need more of our SMEs to scale up through trade.
Canada’s Trade Diversification Strategy is dedicated to helping SMEs reach new markets and customers, and in turn, create new jobs. I commend the CCC on increasing the number of its transactions with SMEs in the last fiscal year, as well as the development of strategies to make the CCC services even more accessible to these businesses. I encourage the CCC to continue exploring effective and sustainable means to implement proposed SME initiatives, recognizing that supporting more SME partners has implications for the CCC’s resourcing and risk-management model.
As the CCC moves to increase its service offering for SMEs, I request that the CCC include in future annual reports the following information: a disaggregation of the number of SMEs supported directly and indirectly by the CCC services; the geographic distribution of these companies in Canada; and a breakdown of the markets in which these SMEs are active.
I also ask that the CCC gather information and/or conduct analysis to better understand how its services are benefitting members of groups under-represented in trade, such as women and Indigenous peoples. Businesses owned by members of these groups have tremendous potential to contribute to Canada’s prosperity. It is important to understand how federal trade services can be more supportive of their international business development.
Build on the CCC’s Responsible Business Conduct and Human Rights Review
In September 2018, I directed the CCC to undertake a thorough review of its risk assessment and transaction due diligence procedures, with the aim of ensuring that the CCC’s activities reflect Canada’s international commitments to promoting human rights and corporate social responsibility (CSR).
I thank the CCC for its June 2019 report outlining the review’s outcomes and resulting enhancements to the CCC’s CSR policies. In particular, I commend the creation of the CCC’s Responsible Business Conduct Framework and its alignment with Canada’s international commitments to responsible business practices, including those set out in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. In light of Canada’s pending accession to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), I am also glad to see measures designed to ensure the CCC transactions are consistent with ATT requirements. The CCC’s new Human Rights Policy and Transparency and Accountability Policy are likewise positive developments.
I congratulate the CCC on its hard work to develop and implement these policies. They represent a significant step in the right direction. That being said, it will be critical for the CCC to sustain the momentum of this most recent review and look to continually reassess and strengthen its CSR frameworks. Recent appointees to the CCC’s Board of Directors bring with them extensive CSR experience, and I trust that their perspectives will help contribute to an enduring and robust CSR culture at the CCC.
Close and proactive consultation with Global Affairs Canada will be key to ensuring the effective operation of the CCC’s enhanced CSR policies. I am pleased to see that the CCC is reaching out to
Global Affairs Canada to discuss prospective transactions early on, and to draw on Global
Affairs Canada’s knowledge and expertise. Global Affairs Canada’s Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion should be a particularly valuable resource for the CCC in this regard. I am also glad that the CCC has engaged with the Advisory Body on Responsible Conduct and the recently appointed Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise. I ask the CCC to maintain strong relationships with these partners as the CCC puts its new CSR policies into practice.
Share Information as Directed
The Government of Canada has a responsibility to ensure that the CCC meets the high expectations that Canadians have for federal organizations. As the Minister responsible for the CCC, it is important that my office and my officials have a full and up-to-date awareness of the CCC’s activities and strategic initiatives, including major projects in the CCC’s business development pipeline. I am pleased to see more frequent meetings between the CCC leadership and my office, as well as senior officials at Global Affairs Canada and the Department of Finance Canada, and ask that this regular and open interchange continue.
To further enhance information sharing between the CCC and my department, I request that the CCC provide me with materials related to meetings of the Board of Directors, including agendas and minutes. I make this request pursuant to Part X, Section 149(1) of the Financial Administration Act, which states that the CCC shall provide the Minister of International Trade Diversification with “accounts, budgets, returns, statements, documents, records, books, reports or other information” as he or she may require.
In closing, I would like to congratulate the CCC on its performance in the previous fiscal year and ask that the CCC continue to support Canadian export growth and diversification, while also leading in the promotion of transparency and corporate social responsibility.
The Honourable Jim Carr, P.C., M.P.