Presentation of Development and Peace petition to MP Kevin Waugh

Michelle Dinter-Lipinski, MP Kevin Waugh, and Joanne Steckler (l-r) with copies of the Development and Peace petition to be tabled in the House of Commons. The petition asks the government to pass legislation empowering the ombudsperson for responsible enterprise to investigate allegations of abuse by Canadian companies operating abroad -- and to take meaningful action. (Submitted photo)

By Joanne Steckler, Development and Peace Representative, Holy Spirit Parish, Saskatoon

On March 8, 2022, Michelle Dinter-Lipinski and I presented over 1,000 petition signatures to our Conservative MP Kevin Waugh. These petitions came from the Development and Peace/Caritas Canada fall campaign in 2021.

The request of the petition was that the Canadian government create legislation which would empower the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) to investigate allegations of abuse by Canadian companies operating abroad. This ombudsperson would have the power to implement meaningful consequences for companies that fail to carry out and report on adequate due diligence.

Michelle had 950 signatures from Holy Cross High School and St. Philip Neri Parish. She and some of her students had met with Kevin Waugh on a previous occasion concerning another petition, so she arranged our meeting on March 8, 2022.

Kevin and his office staff were very welcoming and gave us ample opportunity to explain the petition and our concerns with previous petitions on this topic.

On Jan. 17, 2018, the government of Canada announced the creation of an independent Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise. This announcement came after 10 years of Development and Peace campaigning, during which our members collected over 500,000 signed postcards addressed to the Canadian government, and met with their Member of Parliament to call for this office. This ombudsperson would have the power to investigate human rights abuses linked to the overseas operation of Canadian companies. However, after significant delays, the ombudsperson opened to receive complaints on March 15, 2021, without the promised powers.

In conclusion, we asked Kevin to accept the petitions presented and table them in the House of Commons. He readily agreed and suggested because there were so many, he could table them in groups on several occasions. This would put the issue before parliament more often.

Michelle and I were pleased with this response and encourage other Development and Peace representatives to meet with their MPs.