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Office of the Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor

The Office of the Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Counsellor is part of the federal government's four-pillared CSR strategy, launched in 2009 to improve the competitive advantage of Canadian extractive companies operating abroad.

Working as a special advisor to the Minister of International Trade, the CSR Counsellor is mandated to review the corporate social responsibility practices of Canadian companies operating outside of Canada and to advise stakeholders on the implementation of the endorsed performance standards.

Marketa Evans, the first Counsellor to be appointed, opened her office in March of 2010. This office, located in Toronto, now has three staff and an Advisory Panel that provides strategic advice and input.

In the fall of 2010, the government officially launched its review process, a dispute resolution mechanism facilitated by the CSR counsellor and intended to mediate between aggrieved communities and Canadian mining, oil, and gas companies operating overseas.

The main steps of the CSR Counsellor's review process are as follows:

  1. A request for review is submitted to the office;
  2. The office sends an acknowledgement to the person(s) making the request;
  3. The office assesses eligibility;
  4. The CSR Counsellor works with parties in building trust;
  5. The CSR Counsellor and parties may engage in a structured dialogue.

 

By virtue of an Order-in-Council, the CSR Counsellor has a very limited mandate—s/he cannot review a case without the written consent of parties involved; carry out investigations to clarify disputed facts; apply standards other than the endorsed performance guidelines; make binding policy or legislative recommendations; or apply sanctions to discourage corporate wrongdoing.

As of early 2012, the CSR Counsellor had received two requests for review: one by Excellon Resources Inc. in Mexico, and the other by First Quantum Minerals Ltd. in Mauritania. In the case of Excellon, the process shut down as the company refused to participate in the dialogue process.