CIDA is short for Corporate Investment Development Agency

Published: Thursday 6 December 2012

About a month ago, the Harper government dropped the first shoe of its new foreign policy—economic agreements with the 3rd world and China. The latter will be at our expense but it looks as though our agreements with developing countries will be at theirs.

Canadian mining companies are implicated in dozens of cases of human rights and environmental abuses: Dorato Resources in Peru, Barrick Gold in Tanzania and New Guinea; Centerra in Kyrgyzstan; Excellon in Mexico; Hudbay Minerals in Guatemala. There are others.

If the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement we signed with China is any measure, the agreements we are signing in Africa and South America will allow Canadian mining companies to run roughshod over other peoples’ rights and their environment.

Now the other shoe has dropped. CIDA (the Canadian International Development Agency) will be funding non-government organizations like World Vision to work with Canadian businesses who want to set up shop in other countries.

The idea is to use the connections that NGOs have in those countries to help Canadian corporations hit the ground running. The theory is that NGOs will also teach them to behave.

If that’s the theory, it’s not working. Some $50 million has gone into this effort since the Conservatives came to power. And now citizens of the nations in which our mining companies operate are looking to the courts for help. The Q’eqchi’, a Mayan people from Guatemala, have even filed suits in Ontario courts for shootings and rapes at HudBay’s former mining project in El Estor.

Forced displacement, rape, murder, environmental degradation trail the industry like the chains on Marley’s ghost in A Christmas Carol. NGOs might have the knowledge to make Canadian companies better corporate citizens, but not the clout. Instead, they are being used to polish the tarnish growing on our international reputation.

ABOUT David McLaren
David McLaren is an award-winning writer living at Neyaashiinigmiing on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario. He has worked for government, in the private sector, with civil society and First Nations. He can be reached at http://jdavidmclaren.wordpress.com/.
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3 comments on "CIDA is short for Corporate Investment Development Agency"

Boris Badenov's picture
Boris Badenov

December 18, 2012 9:29pm

The true face of "Harpy" Harper.
World Vision!!! That's, the Christian Cult's cover for stealing Canadian Tax Dollars?
This is an insult to my pagan roots!

Arachne646

December 13, 2012 12:16pm

Our United Church of Canada is not the richest, but has the most adherents according to the Census numbers of any Protestant Church, and won't be doing CIDA's dirty work, rather working with our partner organizations which are formed by people in other countries, on a small scale.

FIPA has not been finally ratified, so if you have not been in touch with your nearest Conservative MP to leave a message at their office, please let them know how much the usurpation of environmental and safety protections that this agreement provides for upsets you. The secretive nature of the ratification of this super-NAFTA should bother you most of all.

Brian Glennie

December 10, 2012 9:02am

The Harper Conservatives have been stripping safety and environment regulations for Big Corporations to by-pass concerns of Canadian citizens.
Big money set up offices in Canada to use the Canadian Stock market to do their dasterdly deeds away from the prying eyes in the U.S. and Europe.