The federal government has appointed Sheri Meyerhoffer as the Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise. The Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) reviews allegations of human rights abuses against Canadian companies operating abroad.
The Ombudsperson will be guided by internationally respected norms, including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
Recommendations made by the Ombudsperson will be reported publicly and companies that do not cooperate could face trade measures, including the withdrawal of trade advocacy services and future Export Development Canada support.
The Ombudsperson’s role involves the following:
- The ability to conduct joint and independent fact-finding, as relevant and appropriate to the mandate, as outlined in the Order in Council.
- The ability to recommend denial or withdrawal of trade advocacy and future Export Development Canada financial support, either as an interim measure or as a final recommendation when companies do not cooperate in the process in good faith. This ability ensures that the Ombudsperson has sufficient leverage to encourage companies to meaningfully participate in the process.
- The Government is committed to ensuring that the Ombudsperson is equipped to pursue information requests and undertake joint and independent fact-finding. In circumstances where a company is not fully and appropriately cooperating in good faith, the Ombudsperson may recommend that consequences be applied.
However, the mandate lacks power to subpoena witnesses or documents.
While serving in this role, the new Ombudsperson will focus on the mining, oil and gas, and garment sectors and is expected to expand into other sectors in the first year of operation.
The roles of the new ombudsperson and the existing Canadian National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are complementary. The Ombudsperson may refer cases to the NCP, where appropriate and where parties are in agreement.
When the Ombudsperson’s Office is officially fully operational, a web portal will accept public submissions. There will also be an option to make submissions by mail for those who do not have access to a computer or the internet.