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Sharp criticism for Bill C-300: Lawyers tell parliamentary committee Private Member's Bill threatens Canada's minerals industry

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November 26, 2009

Ottawa, Canada – Fasken Martineau, a leading international business law and litigation firm, appeared today before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development in Ottawa to oppose Private Member's Bill C-300, which proposes the Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act.

Representing Fasken Martineau before the Standing Committee were the Honourable James Peterson P.C., Counsel with the firm and former federal Minister of International Trade; Raymond Chrétien, partner and Strategic Advisor with the firm and former Canadian ambassador to France, the United States, Belgium, Mexico and the Congo and was Associate Under Secretary of State for External Affairs from 1988 to 1991; and Michael Bourassa, partner and coordinator of the firm's Global Mining Group.

Highlights of the speakers' remarks included:
  • "While the intentions behind the Bill are laudable and while it is without question that Canadian companies must operate in a responsible and accountable manner, we submit that this Bill is flawed in its construction and unduly prejudicial towards an important Canadian industry." – Mr. Peterson
  • "If passed, this Bill could deter companies from working in less stable developing countries as it does not provide companies with any opportunity to address and remedy an issue without immediately being subject to a complaint, possible investigation and sanction." – Mr. Peterson
  • "… in my time serving as Canada's ambassador to a number of developing countries with mining sectors, including Mexico and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Canadian mining companies contributed to improved health, education and infrastructure and were welcomed and well-regarded for such investments." – Mr. Chrétien
  • "If passed, Bill C-300 will undermine the competitive position of Canadian companies and could cause an exodus of mining companies from Canada and potentially render Canada a less attractive jurisdiction for mining investment." – Mr. Bourassa
  • "… if this Bill becomes law every Canadian company or any company contemplating setting up in Canada, would have to undertake a serious risk and cost benefit analysis as to whether to locate here." – Mr. Bourassa
  • "If Bill C-300 were passed, a Canadian mining company's ability to work with its own government to remedy a situation would be impaired. Often in situations such as this, our ambassadors and trade commissioner service will liaise with host governments and provide guidance to Canadian interests. Once a complaint is filed, the role of our foreign service would change from collaborative problem solving mode to that of investigator. A Canadian mining company would be 'cut loose' and left to fend on its own. We would be doing a disservice to our own economic interests." – Mr. Peterson

About Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP

Fasken Martineau, which ranks among the three largest law firms in Canada, is a leading international business law and litigation firm. With over 650 lawyers, the firm has offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, Québec City, London, Paris and Johannesburg. For additional information, please visit the firm's website at www.fasken.com.