Ottawa ON – In defence of beleaguered Minister of International Cooperation, Bev Oda, Prime Minster Stephen Harper told Parliament that the Canadian International Development Agency should give money only to “the poorest and the most vulnerable.” This is NOT what CIDA is doing.
According to CIDA, tax payer dollars are now subsidizing the corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects of the world’s wealthiest mining companies.
In June 2010, CIDA acknowledged having received proposals to fund CSR projects in which “… NGOs and firms have described arrangements of shared responsibility …”
The firms CIDA refers to are among the world’s largest and most profitable multinational mining companies such as Barrick Gold and Rio Tinto. Barrick Gold posted record 4th quarter net earnings in 2010 of $896 million dollars.
In a letter received by MiningWatch Canada, Bev Oda acknowledges the agency has set aside $499,445 for a corporate social responsibility project at a Barrick mine site in Peru. Barrick will contribute “approximately $150,000.” Oda goes on to state that she is “pleased to inform you that I have recently approved the contribution of $500,000 over three years to a project in … Ghana”. This project is located at a Rio Tinto Alcan mine site and Rio Tinto Alcan will contribute $268,000.
Corporate Social Responsibility, as the name implies, is the responsibility of corporations. Traditionally, Canadian mining companies have contracted large Canadian NGOs to carry out development projects in communities at their mine sites. But now, the Canadian tax payer is footing the lion’s share of the bill through CIDA.
Catherine Coumans of Mining Watch Canada notes:
“It is clear that at least some tax payer dollars at CIDA are going to subsidize the corporate social responsibility projects of the world’s most profitable mining companies.” According to Coumans, “this government defeated Bill C-300, which would have held the government accountable for its financial support to the mining industry, and now we see this same government denying funding to long-time development partners such as KAIROS and shifting resources to provide aid dollar support the mining industry.”