Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
July 9, 2001
Lobbying government could spur change — CCODP head
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA — Progress on human rights issues doesn't come quickly but the president of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace believes governments respond to pressure from individuals and organizations like the CCODP.
"There's always more progress than we give ourselves credit for," Susan McNamara Scott said in a CCN interview.
She noted that in a recent meeting between CCODP representatives and International Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew, the minister acknowledged that the government relies on voices such as Development and Peace.
CCODP is buoyed that its petition campaign to tighten Canadian laws regulating business practices overseas has started to bear fruit.
"One of the signs is that Mr. Pettigrew agreed to meet with us so soon after our request," said McNamara Scott. "And we have it from the minister's own words that if we keep the pressure up, things can change."
More than 140,000 Canadians signed the petition asking for tighter controls on the Export Development Corporation.
"The issues that you have raised are important and I am struck by the fact that so many Canadians have taken the time to bring their concerns to my attention through your campaign," Pettigrew said in a letter to CCODP.
"Your voices matter and you may be assured that your views are heeded."
"Sometimes we want immediate results but it takes time," said McNamara Scott.
Lobbying efforts on other issues such as anti-tobacco legislation and recycling have taken 20 years before changes are made, she said.
But for some, the long-awaited changes to the EDC's policy are not coming fast enough. "The government has left the fox in charge of the hen-house," said Emilie Revil, coordinator of the NGO Working Group on the Export Development Corporation.
The working group, a coalition that includes the CCODP, wants the corporation to come under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Assessment Act. Instead, the government took the "low road" in legislating the environment under the EDC's own act instead of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), said Revil.
The working group welcomed the report of the Auditor General Sheila Fraser when it was released May 15.
It called on the EDC to strengthen its environmental practices and be more open with the public, especially when it comes to projects that are environmentally risky.
Her report found that the EDC correctly implemented its own framework in only two of 26 projects reviewed.
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