The appointment of Ms. Sheri Meyerhoffer to the office of Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) reflects the federal government's commitment to promoting responsible business practices abroad. The appointment is part of Canada's Trade Diversification Strategy, which seeks to diversify its trade and investment opportunities.

Ms. Meyerhoffer is a Canadian lawyer who has broad experience in the private and international sectors and is a world governance and diversity expert.

Her position as CORE is the first of its kind in the world. In Canada, it represents a new voluntary mechanism for resolving disputes, complementing Canada's National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

CORE's Mandate: Duties and Powers

The federal government has only provided a broad overview of the CORE's mandate. Generally speaking, this mandate consists of reviewing alleged human rights abuses arising from a Canadian company's operations abroad, making recommendations (and ensuring that they are implemented), recommending trade measures for companies that do not co-operate in good faith and reporting publicly throughout the complaint review process. The Ombudsperson will focus on the mining, oil and gas and garment sectors.

The CORE may conduct joint or independent fact-finding to review complaints that are submitted and may also undertake a review on their own initiative.

Moreover, should a company refuse to fully collaborate and participate in good faith in the review process of a complaint in which it is involved, the Ombudsperson may recommend that the government deny or withdraw some of its services, such as trade advocacy and Export Development Canada support. As such, the CORE has an effective means of persuasion to encourage companies to actively and constructively participate in the review process.

According to Minister Carr, two more months will be needed before the mandate and ancillary powers of the CORE will be confirmed by an Order in Council. For the moment, the details remain purely theoretical.

Complaint or Review Procedure at the Office of CORE

The Ombudsperson's Office is not yet operational, As soon as it is, any person, organization, community, Canadian company or designated representative will be able to submit a claim online, through a web portal, or by mail.

The standard operating procedures with regard to the complaint or review process have not yet been established by the Ombudsperson and little information in this respect is currently available.