Mr. Speaker, I would like to start my speech by paying tribute to the bill's sponsor, my colleague from Scarborough—Guildwood. He believes strongly in this topic and has been patient and tenacious over the years as he fights to get justice for people in developing countries where mining companies, many of which are from Canada, develop the subsurface resources that are so valuable to the global economy. He does not give up.
This is his second bill to hold mining companies accountable to the people who provide labour, without which mining would be impossible. His first attempt to hold this sector accountable, Bill C-300, narrowly missed being passed in the House.
I would also like to pay tribute to my constituents who come to see me or write to me regularly in order to ensure that I keep up to date on the latest developments in this matter. A number of them contact me after they have travelled abroad and visited mining areas to tell me about the situation in those areas.
I would like to mention the Reverend Shaun Fryday, who regularly visits some of the most violent and dangerous areas in the Philippines; Yvonne Bourque, who is with St. Thomas à Becket parish in Pierrefonds; Monica Lambton, from the Office of Justice of the Canadian English-speaking Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame; Father Ernie Schibli, pastor at St. Edward the Confessor Mission in Pointe-Claire; and the Reverend Ian Fraser, pastor of St. Columba by-the-Lake Presbyterian Church in Pointe-Claire.
They all hold out hope, even when their efforts do not seem to have any impact immediately. They take the time to meet with MPs like me in order to raise awareness about this issue and the urgent need to take action. Through these contacts and meetings that are patiently organized, one at a time, these and other committed Canadians hope to establish a critical mass of MPs who will be more aware of the urgent need to take action.
They hope that one day either this government will finally wake up and take progressive action, as in the days of the Progressive Conservatives, or we will have a new government in Canada that will do what is right in this matter.
I sincerely believe that there are members opposite who would like to support this bill from the outset. I hope that they will do so for themselves and for the people overseas who rely on their support.
The measures in Bill C-474 are long overdue. The fact that the government has not already proposed and implemented these measures is in contradiction to the principles that Canada has repeatedly endorsed on the international stage. I will come to that in a moment.
As we all know, Canada is a world leader in mining, oil, and gas, with the latter two sectors also falling within the purview of this bill. If I am not mistaken, about half of the world's mining companies have their head offices in Canada and trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange, yet we lag behind in demanding, through law, greater transparency in the accounting practices of these companies.
This bill, which would compel Canadian-based extractive companies operating abroad to disclose to the Minister of Natural Resources any payment made to foreign governments, would level the playing field, just as the U.S. and the European Union have already taken steps to legislate on this issue. In other words, this bill would bring Canadian companies up to international standards.
In 2008, following the financial crisis in the United States, a provision was included within the Dodd-Frank financial bill, the Cardin-Lugar amendment. The amendment would require extractive companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange to publicly disclose all payments made to foreign governments. A number of a major Canadian companies cross-listed on the New York Stock Exchange have been caught under this new regulation.
A similar bill is also under consideration in the European Union and will require companies to comply with regulations similar to those in the Cardin-Lugar amendment and Bill C-474.
What is also important, as I mentioned earlier, is that we be consistent with principles we express we are in favour of on the international stage. The Canadian government has expressed an interest in revenue disclosure in the past through various international forums. The government has indicated its support for the extractive industries transparency initiative, which promotes the disclosure of payments made to governments.
Canada's sustainable economic growth strategy advocates increased transparency to aid in the promotion of international development. Canada has also ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which requires state parties to take measures to promote the transparency of private entities and to ensure that the public has access to information.
Canada is also a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions; is a signatory to the G8 Declaration: Renewed Commitment for Freedom and Democracy; and was party to the G8/Africa Joint Declaration: Shared Values, Shared Responsibilities, issued at the G8 summit at Deauville, in 2011.
It is not as if the government has never heard of this kind of measure that would require greater accounting transparency on the part of extractive companies doing business abroad. It is not as if it is a new issue. Not only is it not a new issue, it is one we support in words in the international arena.
Adopting this bill would simply be consistent with the path the government claims it wants to take. It would be beneficial to the mining companies themselves. Sometimes companies in the private sector balk at certain regulations. Then they find out later that, in fact, those regulations were beneficial to those companies in the long run.
For example, there are many investors, more and more, who want to invest ethically. They want to make ethical investments. If they see that these Canadian mining companies and other extractive sector companies operating abroad are being fully transparent, they will be able to invest. They will have licence, essentially, to invest in these companies. I think all CEOs and all management teams in all publicly traded companies want to have buy-in of their shares.
In the long run, this will be good business. It will also confirm, in law, the values we claim on the international stage to hold dear.