An upcoming public and policy engagement non-profit consultancy focusing on Social, Political and Ecological Justice issues in Afrika. We work and stand in solidarity with communities in mineral rich areas in Afrika and other global south environments.
State apparatus and those who labour to run governments indeed have a gigantic task to ensure that their lips, voices and facial appearance are straight enough to defend the ‘undefendables’ – corporate injustices.
At the closing of the 2013 Ontario Council for International Cooperation (OCIC) Global Citizens Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation in Canada, Lois Brown praised the work Barrick Gold Corporation is doing both in Honduras and Burkina Faso saying that, “Barrick is a great Canadian mining company doing a lot of good work in Honduras and has introduced a lot of good corporate social responsibility programs in Ouagadougou [Burkina Faso’s Capital].”
Confronted by one of the participants who asked Ms Brown “if Canadian involvement in Honduras could still be termed healthy and would it be possible for you to highlight what is going on there at the moment?” Ms Brown answered without flinching, “Canada has a good relationship with Honduras and our presence there is appreciated much by the locals who seem to flourish and are flying with happiness. What is your name?”
The reference to the CSR performance in Burkina Faso may just not have been clearly stated but apparently Ms Brown did not realise that IAMGOLD is the biggest Canadian mining company operating in Burkina Faso.
According to the information posted on Thursday, October 31, 2013 on Mining Watch Canada website, “The 149th Session of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington DC this Friday will hear from delegates from Colombia, Honduras, Peru, Chile and Brazil about the negative impacts of Canadian mining activities in the region, highlighting the Canadian government’s role.”
The report goes on to state that, “Special concern will be raised about how Canadian government representatives have intervened in the creation or reform of laws in other countries without respect for what mining-affected communities have been calling for.”
From this information, it is clear that Ms Brown was either playing ‘dumb’ or trying to fool participants who attended the closing remarks session. The group was mainly composed of youths who were taking in every word that she spoke. It should not take anyone by surprise that the Canadian government in the persona of its representatives evidences high levels of being instrumentalised by the corporate world. One other thing which I found to be really interesting (which I also experienced with Ms Brown in Ottawa) is how fond she is to talk about her business ventures in the developing world – especially with government dignitaries. This time round she was talking to youths from Latin America and she was happily talking about parts of machineries which are manufactured for a company in her hosted in [my] her riding! The encounter with her in Ottawa, she was talking about her daughter getting married to the son of a minister in Africa.
All this, in the name of what is good for business while children and entire families in the countries where Canadian mining interest is present are forced to live lives of vagabonds, and on top of that, destitution, rapes, and killings.
References and further readings:
Inter-American commission on human rights hear about Canadian government’s role in mining abuses
Canada and Honduras mining law – June 20, 2012 [PDF]
Honduras democracy denied [PDF]
Devastating impact of Canadian mining in Honduras
Honduran partners mobilize against new mining law