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As Ottawa replaces watchdog for firms operating abroad, advocates urge full reform

OTTAWA — Advocates are calling on Ottawa to profoundly change the powers of the watchdog who monitors Canadian corporations operating abroad, as the Liberals review how a new ombudsman should take on the job.

The Trudeau government replaced a monitor for the mining sector five years ago with what it called the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise.

The office only launched its first investigations last summer and completed just one case in March, finding a Vancouver firm had not done enough to prevent possible slave labour in China.

In that report, ombudsperson Sherri Meyerhoffer said her inability to compel documents and testimony prevented her from fully holding corporate Canada to account.

Meyerhoffer ended her term this past week, and Ottawa has appointed a former Global Affairs Canada lawyer, Masud Husain, as her replacement.

Karen Hamilton, director of the advocacy group Above Ground, says Ottawa must give him powers to compel documents and expand his mandate beyond the mining, petroleum and garment sectors. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 5, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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