TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian lawmakers on Wednesday defeated a bill that would have raised the bar on human rights and environmental standards followed by Canadian mining companies working overseas.
Critics within and outside the Canadian mining industry had slammed the legislation, arguing that proposals in the bill would put companies based in the country at a disadvantage in competing against their foreign counterparts.
The proposal, known as Bill C-300, was introduced by John McKay of the opposition Liberal Party on February 9, 2009.
The bill stated that the Canadian government’s support to mining companies must be contingent on them following the highest corporate social responsibility standards.
The bill’s proponents believed the legislation would have ended injustices by Canadian and foreign mining, gas and oil companies.
“Despite the defeat of C-300, the Liberal Party remains committed to the important principle of corporate social responsibility for Canadian industries at home and abroad,” Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff said in a statement.
Those opposed to the bill contended that it could have jeopardized project funding to any Canadian miner that was hit with a complaint. They contended that agencies such as Export Development Canada and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board would have been forced to revoke funding from any company in such cases.
CIBC analyst Alec Kodatsky wrote in a recent note to clients that while the principles of the bill were noble, its mechanism for administration was flawed.
Kodatsky wrote that passage of the bill could have prompted many Canadian mining companies to relocate to other parts of the world.
Critics also said the bill could have encouraged frivolous complaints against companies, with no penalties against anyone making a false claim.
Editing by Toni Reinhold