Deals avoid issues like the environment, informed consent, and democracy.
by Ish Theilheimer
OTTAWA, June 13, 2013 (Straight Goods News) — The Harper government has announced new deals with Peru and Tanzania that clear the way for mining and oil companies but do little to protect the environment or the people of those countries.
In a news release, the government said, "Canada will work with governments, civil society and companies, in collaboration with other G-8 countries, in both Peru and Tanzania to improve regulatory oversight, tax and audit coordination, and the management of royalties collected by local and regional governments from oil, gas and mining companies."
The emphasis is on efficiency, not participation; certainty, not consent. And limiting expectations will be a big part of this.
Jamie Keen of Mining Watch Canada noted the absence, in the announcement, of protection for local people or the environment.
"Resource governance is widely seen as a technocratic problem, not a political one, and certainly the Canadian government sees it as a question of strengthening administrative institutions, not democratic ones," he told Straight Goods News.
"The emphasis is therefore on efficiency, not participation; certainty, not consent. And limiting expectations will be a big part of this, as they will be trying to dissuade governments and activists alike from discussing significantly greater capture of resource rents and/or nationalization of resources and projects.
Keen noted the absence, in the announcement of any mention of community consent (or informed consent, for indigenous peoples), tax avoidance and the use of tax havens, "and the larger socio-economic and environmental liabilities created by mining activities."
"The responsible and transparent management of natural resources is an important driver of sustainable economic growth in developing countries," said Prime Minister Harper. "Through these new partnerships, Canada will work with Peru and Tanzania to strengthen the tools they need to effectively manage their natural resource industries, thus ensuring that their citizens benefit fully from these precious assets."
Keen interprets the announcement as an attempt to demonstrate government and industry acceptance of the political demands for greater transparency and accountability, "to head off 'resource nationalism' and re-establish the 'social licence' to mine."© Copyright 2013 Ish Theilheimer, All rights Reserved. Written For: StraightGoods.ca