On April 8, 2019, Canada's International Trade Diversification Minister finally announced the appointment of Ms. Sheri Meyerhoffer as Canada's first Ombudsman for Responsible Enterprise ("CORE"). On January 17, 2018, the Government of Canada announced that it would create an Office of the CORE. This is one of Canada's progressive Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives to export Canada's values abroad. We previously posted an article entitled "Compliance Incentive": Canada to appoint a Canadian Ombudsman for Responsible Enterprise" at the time of the original announcement.
What is the mandate of Canada's CORE?
The Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise has the mandate to review alleged human rights abuses arising from a Canadian company's operations abroad, make recommendations, monitor those recommendations, recommend trade measures for companies that do not co-operate in good faith, and report publicly throughout the process. The CORE's scope will focus on the mining, oil and gas and garment sectors. There is an expectation that the scope will expand to other business sectors. This means that other business sectors should also get ready.
The CORE is one of Canada's two voluntary dispute resolution mechanisms, complementing Canada's National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (NCP).
The Ombudsperson is charged with investigating Canadian companies operating in foreign markets rather than investigating the activities of Canadian government officials. The Canadian Ombudsman for Responsible Enterprise will receive complaints about Canadian companies from Canadians, competitors, foreign governments, foreign citizens, not-for-profit organizations, activists and others. These complaints will be investigated.
Submitting a Complaint
When the CORE office is officially fully operational, a web portal will accept public submissions. There will also be an option to make submissions by mail for those who do not have access to a computer or the internet.
If there is an issue that needs to be addressed now it can be made through Canada's current dispute resolution mechanism. Notification can be submitted directly to Canada's National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, depending on the grounds for the complaint.
Should parties ignore requests for information from CORE or refuse to cooperative or act in good faith, CORE will have the power to impose trade sanctions, such as recommending the withdrawal of consular services or cutting access to Export Development Canada trade financing or insurance products and services. The Corporate Responsibility Ombudsman may also make non-binding recommendations concerning payment of compensation, which cannot be ordered by Canadian courts under Canada's export controls, economic sanctions, anti-bribery and other international laws.
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