by Andrew Stephens-Rennie
This morning I had the opportunity to sit down with Stefan Cherry, a policy analyst with the Mennonite Central Committee, and a church planter in the Vanier neighbourhood of Ottawa. Amongst the many things we discussed, was the MCC’s work on Mining Justice.
Canadian companies are a dominant force in the mining and resource extraction industry across the globe. Seventy-five percent of all mining companies in the world are based in Canada. In 2008 some 1200 companies operated in Canada and in 100 other countries. That’s not insignificant.
To round it all out, some of these companies receive subsidies from the Canadian government. This is a reason for great concern, especially considering the current environmental and human rights abuses that are being uncovered in many places throughout the world.
Canadian mining operations around the world are a mixed blessing. On the one hand, mines provide jobs, they contribute to the host nation’s economy, and they often contribute schools, clinics and similar supports to local communities. But there is another side. Jobs are often short-lived and the financial benefits to the economy are meager. Mines often displace people from their homes, destroy land, and contaminate water supplies. Frequently, the people who occupy the land – often, Indigenous peoples – are not adequately consulted. Sometimes, Canadian mining operations contribute to human rights violations, violence and armed conflict.
So. What can we do about it? For those of us from Canada, how can we address these issues? For starters, check out the MCC Resources. Learn more about the proposed Bill C-300 and write to your MP in support of it.
Another thing we hope to be able to do in the not-too-distant future is to facilitate a screening of Jamie’s “Return to El Salvador” which contains more of the Marcelo Rivera story. We’re currently in discussions to host a viewing in Ottawa sometime in the coming months. We’ll let you know as things pan out.