Export Development Canada: Out from the shadows

(Above Ground, Ottawa 29 August 2019) For decades, Export Development Canada (EDC) has been subject to minimal public scrutiny, with media and Parliament rarely asking questions about the social and environmental costs of the business it supports. But recently, with some of the agency’s highest-profile clients facing charges of wrongdoing, that’s started to change, prompting reporters and lawmakers to question EDC’s screening practices. EDC is one of the largest export credit agencies in the world, providing roughly $100 billion in loans, insurance and other financial services to Canadian and foreign companies every year. It facilitates business in nearly every sector, including those widely recognized as high-risk for corruption, human rights abuse and environmental harm. Last year over 40 percent of EDC’s support went to companies involved in oil and gas, mining, construction and infrastructure. EDC’s track record of questionable business deals goes back decades. Without strong oversight of EDC’s operations, the government runs the risk of facilitating harmful and illegal activities that are too often present in these industries. It also risks putting Canada in breach of its international obligations, such as its duty to avoid contributing to human rights abuse.