OTTAWA — A United Nations rights watchdog says Canada’s international reputation will be damaged if it doesn’t follow through and give real power to its new watchdog on responsible corporate conduct.
Surya Deva, the chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, is in Ottawa this week and will be seeking answers from the government on why it took 15 months to appoint its new “ombudsperson for responsible enterprise.”
Deva tells The Canadian Press he was disappointed that International Trade Minister Jim Carr commissioned a further legal review, due in June, to assess what the ombusdperson’s powers should be when he finally filled the new job three weeks ago.
That decision also drew condemnation from rights groups when Carr announced the appointment of Sheri Meyerhoffer, a lawyer with a long record in business and international development.
Deva says if the government settles on anything short of full power that to compel companies to supply witnesses and documents in Meyerhoffer’s investigations, it will hurt Canada’s reputation as a human-rights leader.
Deva says the government took too long to appoint Meyerhoffer because it has been on the government’s agenda for years.
The Liberals promised to create the position as part of their 2015 campaign platform, and announced the details of the new office in January 2018.