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The Government of Canada has announced two new initiatives in a bid to strengthen the country’s approach to responsible business conduct for Canadian companies, including those in the garment sector, doing business and operating abroad.

The first of its kind, the independent Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) will be responsible for investigating allegations of human rights abuses linked to Canadian corporate activity abroad.

Announced by International Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne, the CORE will seek to assist wherever possible in collaboratively resolving disputes or conflicts between impacted communities and Canadian companies, and will be empowered to independently investigate, report, recommend remedy and monitor its implementation.

Its scope will be multi-sectoral, initially focussing on the garment, mining, and oil and gas sectors, with the expectation to expand within a year of the Ombudsperson taking office to other business sectors.

The creation of the CORE sets a new global benchmark to ensure responsible business conduct globally, says the Government of Canada.

“Canada’s leadership in strengthening responsible business conduct abroad reflects the values supported by Canada’s progressive trade agenda where all parties should benefit from economic development, and contributes to Canada’s reputation as an international business partner of choice,” Champagne says.

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Meanwhile, a multi-stakeholder advisory body has been formed that will advise Canada’s Government and the CORE on responsible business conduct abroad.

Building on Canada’s existing expertise and leadership in corporate social responsibility (CSR), these measures will be “best in class”, reinforcing Canada’s approach to inclusive economic growth, and helping keep Canadian companies at the forefront of responsible business conduct abroad, a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace, it adds.