New EDC human-rights policy lacks power, say workers and watchdogs

(National Post, Ottawa,  May 2019) OTTAWA — Export Development Canada is declaring itself a leading defender of human rights, but workers groups and advocates say the Crown agency’s long-awaited new policy falls well short of what’s needed. The United Steel Workers of Canada declared it a missed chance to show leadership in global finance, business and human rights. The arrival of the new policy comes as Canadian businesses and human-rights advocates await a legal review by International Trade Minister Jim Carr that will determine the powers of the government’s new “ombudsperson for responsible enterprise.” Karen Hamilton, the spokeswoman for Above Ground, a non-governmental agency that specializes in tracking human rights infractions involving businesses, said the group hopes Carr’s legal review leads to a change in EDC’s legislation to make stronger human rights obligations mandatory. “If we really want to see change, it has to be legislated,” Hamilton said.