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September 15th, 2014

ACTION ALERT: Email your MP about the Conflict Minerals Act

As Parliament resumes today, it is important important more than ever to email your MP to support Paul Dewar’s Conflict Minerals Act. Members of Parliament are due to vote on the bill in the coming days, and your vocal support is key.

Visit the Conflict Minerals Act page of the STAND Canada website about emailing your MP, including:

  • How to find your MP
  • Who else to contact
  • What to say in your emails.

Don’t forget to also sign our Conflict Minerals Act petition too!

This Wednesday, September 24 marks a national day of action in support of Bill C-486. Help us turn off conflict by joining Canadians across the country by shutting down your cell phone for 486 minutes between 6:00p.m. and 2:06 a.m. (local time).

This act will help stand in solidarity with the survivors and bring awareness to those killed in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo which has been fueled and funded by the illegal trade of conflict minerals. Check out the event on Facebook.

Scott Fenwick
Executive Director, STAND Canada

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September 15th, 2014

Conflict Minerals: know your products.

By Colin Baulke

Bill C-486, known as the Conflict Minerals Act, would require Canadian corporations to practice due diligence in the trade of specific minerals originating from the Great Lakes Region of Africa. Although this law would make significant steps in reducing the exploitation of “conflict minerals” originating in the region, it is still important for individuals to self-audit their own purchases. To help you with this, STAND has created a list of five household products you may not have realized used minerals that would be in violation of proposed Bill C-486.

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September 14th, 2014

STAND in The Varsity, the U of T newspaper

STAND Canada’s Advocacy Director Kristen Pue wrote an op-ed this week in The Varsity, the student newspaper at the University of Toronto. In the article, Kristen writes:

Consumers may be inadvertently complicit in this violence through our purchases. Up to 95 per cent of revenue for armed groups is derived from the sale of conflict minerals, sustaining rebel operations and providing a strong incentive to avoid peace. Mineral wealth is thus a driver of conflict.

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September 13th, 2014

The Conflict Minerals Act: What happens after second reading?

Bill C-486, the Conflict Minerals Act, is a Private Member’s bill, introduced by NDP MP Paul Dewar. Although STAND Canada’s campaign is centred around its second reading vote, it is just one step of several when it comes to making this bill a reality.

The bill has been tabled and has gone through its first reading in the House of Commons. The purpose of the first reading is to ensure that the bill can be printed and distributed to all MPs. It is a formality; all bills pass the first reading. Bill C-486 has also been through two debates in the second reading stage and will be voted on in the fall legislative session, tentatively September 24. If a majority of the House votes in favor, Bill C-486 will continue. If not, it will be defeated. Debate on the second reading is restricted to a bill’s general principle, rather than the details of specific provisions.

If Bill C-486 advances beyond the second reading, it will proceed to be reviewed by a committee. Usually, a bill is referred to the committee whose mandate is most relevant to the bill, so the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development is most likely to review it. The committee will likely hold public hearings, commencing with a speech from the bill’s sponsor, MP Paul Dewar. Other relevant individuals will be invited to speak as well. This can include experts, representatives of relevant organizations, or other individuals who would be affected. If the bill proceeds to committee, we would want to have a STAND representative speak at the hearing, which would mean having a strong sense of the amendments that we would like to see inserted in the bill.

After the public hearings, the committee will consider the bill clause-by-clause. At this point, all committee members – and only committee members – can propose amendments to the bill. STAND would aim to coordinate with MP Dewar and other Foreign Affairs committee members to ensure that our priorities were reflected in the new text of the bill. We will then want to campaign for public support of the bill as it proceeds to the third reading.

The committee will then report its recommendations to the House. It can recommend a bill as it is or with amendments, but it cannot comment otherwise. After the report has been presented, MPs are allowed to propose additional amendments. However, the Speaker will normally rule amendments out of order if they have already been considered and rejected in committee. This is part of the “consistency” principle that the House takes toward amendments. The Speaker of the House can choose to rule amendments out of order or group them together for debate and voting. When all amendments are voted on, the bill immediately moves on to the third reading, where it is debated and voted on for a final time within the House of Commons. If a majority of the House votes in favor, Bill C-486 will proceed to the Senate and, if it passes there, it receives royal assent.

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September 12th, 2014

The impact of the Conflict Minerals Act

By Priya Ramesh, Policy Director, and
Kristen Pue, Advocacy Director

Should it ascend to law, the Conflict Minerals Act would affect several groups in the following ways.

The Democratic Republic of Congo: Often, minerals in the DRC are extracted by local citizens in illegal mines controlled and taxed by armed groups. Minerals that are mined, traded, and moved under such conditions are sold into the global minerals marketplace and find their way into the products Canadian consumers purchase. The Conflict Minerals Act will make financing war in the DRC more difficult.

Canada: First and foremost, the bill would contribute to improving the conflict situation in the region by focusing on a key driver in the cycle of mass atrocities while also reflecting fundamental Canadian values of peace, stability, and security. Canada would continue to be a leader in international human rights by encouraging our businesses to adhere to human rights standards abroad.

Canadian mining companies: The bill encourages Canadian companies to establish frameworks for tracing supply chains through due diligence requirements and enhance transparency through disclosure requirements. By requiring that companies trace their supply chains and publish this information, Canadian mining companies must commit to a degree of transparency in their operations in the Great Lakes Regions. However, no enforcement mechanism is stipulated in the bill.

Canadian consumers: This bill will circumvent the flow of illegally produced minerals into our products and allow them to be aware of the type of minerals going into their goods.

Strengths of the bill

The Conflict Minerals Act is firmly rooted in internationally recognized due diligence standards, maintains a holistic approach to enhancing transparency and establishes clear expectations for companies. For these reasons, STAND views the Conflict Minerals Act as an important first-step for Canada in curtailing trade in conflict minerals.

Transparency: Transparency is established through annual reporting; when a company comes into contact with a designated mineral in any manner, a full public report with detailed accounts of all activities surrounding its use is required. This will allow Canadian consumers to know whether their purchases are perpetuating conflict in the DRC.

Holistic Approach: The Conflict Minerals Act applies to Canadian companies that engage with designated minerals from their extraction to the sale of a final product. A wide net needs to be cast so that primary and secondary players involved in minerals trade, manufacturing, etc. are monitored in order to tackle the conflict minerals problem. This is particularly necessary because many products containing designated minerals, such as electronics and airplanes, are manufactured globally; approaching only one link in the supply chain would unduly narrow the range of products that the legislation addresses, leaving room for conflict mineral sales to continue.

Internationally-recognized Standards: The Conflict Minerals Act closely follows the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD)  Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas (OECD DDG), which was developed through a multi-stakeholder process engaging governments, industry, civil society, and the United Nations. The OECD DDG constitutes a practical approach to implementing due diligence for conflict minerals, as has been confirmed by the final report of the OECD DDG pilot implementation project, and is the centrepiece of international efforts to curtail the trade in conflict minerals.

Clear Guidelines: The Conflict Minerals Act identifies the core issue, details existing standards with which Canadian companies comply, establishes clear definitions of key terms, and sets-up a demand for due diligence all companies must exercise with instructions on how it must be done.

 

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