Business

Panellists quit corporate responsibility panel citing 'erosion of trust'

Citing an erosion of trust, civil society and labour representatives have resigned from a panel set up to advise the federal government on ensuring Canadian firms operating abroad are accountable for how they conduct themselves.

Civil society and labour representatives have resigned from panel set up to advise federal government

Alex Neve of Amnesty International Canada speaks during a press conference on Parliament Hill on Wednesday, April 27. Citing an erosion of trust, civil society and labour representatives have resigned from a panel set up to advise the federal government on ensuring Canadian firms operating abroad are accountable for how they conduct themselves. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Citing an erosion of trust, civil society and labour representatives have resigned from a panel set up to advise the federal government on ensuring Canadian firms operating abroad are accountable for how they conduct themselves.

The 14 members withdrew from the "multi-stakeholder advisory body on responsible business conduct" Thursday, complaining that a newly created adviser on corporate accountability lacks the teeth to ensure companies conducting business outside Canada do so in a responsible manner.

The government announced in January 2018 the creation of a Canadian ombudsperson for responsible enterprise (CORE), saying the office would be given the tools to conduct credible, independent investigations.

The ombudsperson's powers were to include the ability to summon witnesses and compel documents.

But civil-society leaders say the appointment in April of this year of a special adviser to the international trade minister instead, without giving that adviser proper investigative powers, backtracked on the pledge.

And because of that, organizations operating under the umbrella Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability said they lost faith in the ability of the advisory body to function as originally envisioned.