The Canadian mining industry

Canada has more mining companies than any other country: approximately 75% of the mining companies across the world are registered in Canada, and approximately 60% are also listed on the Toronto Stock (TSX).35 This is not a coincidence. in Canada mining companies benefit from a number of legal, political, diplomatic and economic conditions that work largely in their favour. Industry Canada reported in the 1990s that the government and the multinational companies established in Canada are “partners along the path to obtaining a competitive advantage,” and that the Canadian policies on commerce and foreign business “focus on the multinationals and their investments.”36 It is also clear that the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) contributes more in regions where Canadian companies hold mining claims by funding reforms of Mining Codes, or developing the infrastructure necessary for mining projects.37

The Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) is one of the largest pools of high-risk capital. It offers very competitive benefits to the mining companies, such as large amounts of cash for exchanges, access to American capital, and the possibility of being listed on more than one exchange at a time. There is a regulatory framework with the purpose of promoting risk-taking by shareholders, but no regulation applicable to companies regarding the respect of human rights.38

Canadian political figures also contribute to the diplomatic support of mining companies on an adhoc basis, despite human rights violations and community conflicts.39 Canadian ambassadors have made public statements in Guatemala, promoting the benefits of mining activities (James Lambert in 2004) or discrediting the civil movements opposing the mining industry (Kenneth Cook in 2007). On other occasions the diplomatic support came from other political actors, such as Canada’s ex-Governor General, Michaëlle Jean, or the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Peter Kent in 2009. These contributions show a clear bias in favour of Canadian mining companies, boasting their benefits and their promises for development. In Canada, the defeated Bill C-300, a bill that tied government financial support to mining companies on the condition that they respect human rights abroad, was a lost opportunity – a narrow majority of federal MPs rejected the bill in 2010.

  1. TMX Toronto Stock Exchange Mining Sector Sheet, Global Leader in Mining, et Americas Policy Group’s Briefing Note: Mining, Avril 2012, en ligne 

  2. Industrie Canada, Les multinationales comme agents du changement, définition d’une nouvelle politique canadienne, Lorraine Eden, 1994, à la page ii. 

  3. Affaires étrangères, commerce et développement Canada, rapport Priorités et progrès : Le Canada dans les Amériques, 2009, en ligne : et Réseau canadien pour la reddition de compte des entreprises (RCRCE), rapport Affaires douteuses, pratiques douteuses : Le soutien du gouvernement fédéral aux entreprises minières, pétrolières et gazières canadiennes à l’étranger, mais 2007. 

  4. TSX Bourse de Toronto et Comité pour les Droits humains en Amérique latine, La Bourse de Toronto, en ligne : 

  5. Ibid, rapport du RCRCE.