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Letter from Minister of International Trade Diversification to Export Development Canada chair board of directors

September 24, 2018

Ms. Martine Irman
Chair, Board of Directors
Export Development Canada
150 Slater Street
Ottawa ON K1A 1K3

Dear Ms. Irman:

It was a pleasure to speak with you on August 14, 2018. Export Development Canada (EDC) performs a vital role in helping our exporters pursue international business opportunities, succeed in the global marketplace, and create jobs and prosperity for Canadians. As you settle into your new role, I would like to reiterate the Government of Canada’s commitment growing our trade and investment, in a manner that respects international human rights and humanitarian law.

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that all segments of society benefit from the opportunities that flow from trade and investment. Trade and investment are essential vehicles for improving the quality of life of citizens. Inherent in this approach is the imperative that we hold ourselves to a higher standard—and show leadership on the issue of responsible business conduct and respect for human rights. To this end, and with EDC’s vital assistance to exporters in mind, I ask that you undertake a thorough review of EDC’s ongoing risk assessments and transaction due diligence, to ensure that human rights, transparency and responsible business conduct are core guiding principles for EDC. This should include and build on your planned public consultations related to environmental and social risk management framework. It is my expectation that EDC’s policies and procedures in these areas would be best-in-class among its peers.

I would also ask that you examine the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights’ recent report: “Promoting Human Rights: Canada’s Approach to its Export Sector,” which recommends that EDC consider whether there is a substantial risk that a transaction could lead to serious violations of humanitarian law. As my predecessor launched a statutory legislative review in June 2018, you should also ensure that these two efforts are working in concert where appropriate. I would encourage you to consider how you comply in a commercial context with Canada’s international human rights obligations, including standards supported by the Government of Canada (e.g. Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights).

As part of this review, you should also actively consult with non-governmental organizations, Industry Associations, the multi‑stakeholder Advisory Body on Responsible Business Conduct abroad, and the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise, which was recently established. I have asked my officials to ensure that they support you in undertaking this review. I encourage you to work closely with them as you conduct this review and adopt any new approaches. I have also instructed my department to ensure that existing Global Affairs Canada resources and expertise are made available to EDC as part of any long-term due diligence process developed through this review. Moreover, it is my expectation that EDC will flag sensitive transactions under consideration to my office and department and continue to conduct risk assessments and ongoing monitoring going forward.

In summary, I would ask that EDC ensure that Canada’s international human rights obligations be more explicitly and transparently incorporated into its corporate social responsibility objectives and procedures. I would ask for an update on the status of this review by the end of November 2018. This update should include a detailed timeline for full implementation of new procedures by the end of June 2019. In the interim, please work closely with my office and Global Affairs Canada officials during your consideration of any transactions that warrant close analysis.

I look forward to the results of this review.

Sincerely,

The Honourable Jim Carr, P.C., M.P.

c.c.: The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Ian Shugart
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Tim Sargent
Deputy Minister for International Trade

Mr. Benoit Daignault
President and Chief Executive Officer
Export Development Canada

Members, Board of Directors
Export Development Canada

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