Working group to assess Canadian human rights

U.N. experts plan Canadian visit to assess how businesses like energy impact human rights.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   May 18, 2017 at 6:42 AM
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May 18 (UPI) -- A U.N. working group on human rights said it would visit Canada to examine the impacts of the business environment, including in the energy sector.

Representatives from a U.N. working group on business and human rights visit Canada for nine days starting Tuesday. The experts representing the working group said they'd examine ways business practices interfere with human rights issues, including issues related to oil and natural gas.

"In addition to engaging with the government and various companies and business associations, we will meet with civil society and trade union representatives, human rights defenders and members of indigenous communities," visiting delegate Anita Ramasastry said in a statement. "We will give attention to the situations of groups that may be particularly vulnerable to business-related human rights abuse."

In January, the provincial government of British Columbia said it was satisfied that pipeline company Kinder Morgan had met the conditions to move forward safely with plans to nearly triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline to the western coast. Provincial Premier Christy Clark said there was a high bar set to ensure the aboriginal communities that rely on the region's pristine environment have a voice.

This week, the provincial government of Alberta was given an official voice in a judicial review challenging federal recommendations on the Trans Mountain expansion. Against tribal concerns, Alberta's leaders said the pipeline was in its best interest.

Organized under the banner of Idle No More, tribal communities across Canada have protested that pipeline development undermines their rights to land and water. According to Amnesty International, any widespread failure to protect the rights of First Nations in Canada ignores their culture, health and well-being.

The itinerary for the Canadian visit includes stops in the capital, Ottawa, two stops in oil-rich Alberta and Vancouver.

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