4.11.6 Corporate accountability

The growth of multinational enterprises and global supply chains has been accompanied by growing concerns regarding labour standards, environmental protection, and respect for human rights in developing nations. The public is increasingly aware of the social and environmental impacts of business practices, and more and more people are beginning to demand that Canadian corporations act ethically and responsibly in Canada as well as abroad.

Numerous serious and high-profile breaches of corporate ethics have contributed to elevated public mistrust of corporations, and highlighted the need for improved corporate governance, transparency, and accountability. There are growing concerns that voluntary self-regulation is not leading to responsible and sustainable business practices. The Canadian government can create stable and fair standards that will ensure Canadian corporations operate in a responsible manner.

The Green Party understands the need for greater corporate accountability, and decries the lack of legal provisions that would allow for civil actions against the big polluters in Canada. Our businesses need to be both competitive and accountable, and our government needs to create a legal environment that will make this happen. We recognize that Canadians want to feel proud of the corporations that represent them abroad and we will take practical and balanced steps to ensure Canadian corporations are economic as well as ethical leaders around the globe.

Green Party MPs will:

  • Adopt the recommendations of the Advisory Report from the National Roundtables on Corporate Social Responsibility. This framework sets out clear standards and reporting obligations for Canadian corporations. It would establish an ombudsman office with the power to investigate and evaluate complaints from affected communities and determine levels of compliance with the established standards;

  • Work with the provinces to establish a national Canadian Securities Commission and bring in a federal Securities Act to protect investors from unfair, improper, or fraudulent practices, and foster fair and efficient capital markets, as well as confidence in those markets;

  • Introduce legislation to hold Canadian corporations that are working overseas to the same environmental and human rights standards as they are subject to in Canada;

  • Prevent legal intimidation of ordinary people by limiting the rights of corporations to sue groups and individuals only for actual loss;

  • Develop laws similar to the U.S.’s Alien Tort Claims Act that will allow those who are not Canadian to sue Canadian corporations for gross violations of basic human, environmental, or labour rights in their own countries;

  • Prohibit the use of SLAPP suits (Strategic Litigation against Public Participation) so often used by large corporations to frighten and silence their critics;

  • Reduce the disclosure requirements for prosecuting corporations. In a complicated stock market fraud or investment scam, disclosure can amount to hundreds of thousands of documents that have to be gathered, sorted, organized, and copied so they can be given over to the defendant and the defendant’s lawyers as soon as charges are laid in a case;

  • Oppose the takeover of Canada’s stock exchanges, such as the Toronto Stock Exchange, by corporate entities based outside of Canada.