Economic development should serve everyone, says Trudeau as Chile reforms mining sector

The world is changing and all governments must tackle the climate crisis and ensure that economic development benefits everyone, including indigenous peoples, the Prime Minister of Canada said on Monday as Chile continues reforms in its mining sector .

“You can’t build a strong, resilient economy in the 21st century unless you also protect the environment, unless everyone has the chance to participate, unless you include people who have been excluded,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his appearance alongside the Chilean. President Gabriel Boric during his visit to Ottawa.

Asked by a Spanish-speaking reporter about the impact of mining reforms on Canada’s view of Chile as an investment location, Trudeau declined to comment on the specific democratic processes underway in the country.

But he said leaders and democracies must ensure they keep up with changes in the world, not just for moral but also practical reasons.

“It’s the only way to build a strong future and a strong country.”

About 10% of Canada’s mining assets abroad are located in Chile, according to 2019 figures from the federal Ministry of Natural Resources. The only country with more Canadian mining assets is the United States. In 2020, the ministry said Canadian mining assets in Chile amounted to 55 companies worth about $21 billion.

Boric, who became the youngest president in Chile’s history when he took office in March, is a former left-wing student activist who had campaigned for greater environmental protection in a country notorious for its huge mines of copper.

The two leaders answered questions from local high school students Monday afternoon at the Museum of Nature in Ottawa.

Asked about Canadian mining companies that operated in Chile under more lax regulations in the past, Boric said some companies were destroying the territory and generating massive revenues without giving enough back to the country, and that some of those companies were Canadian.

“The way we can change our development goals is compelling and compels the private sector to work better,” he said.

Ensure economic development works for all, says @JustinTrudeau amid #Chile’s mining #reforms. #CdnPoli #Indigenous

Boric also said he told Trudeau that Chile wanted to force Canadian companies to act the same way in his country as they would on home soil, saying “there is no reason to justify that in certain countries, you behave in a way that you would not do in your country”. own country.”

Trudeau said the two leaders discussed the issue in an extensive bilateral meeting. He said he believes the vast majority of Canadian mining companies are responsible, but acknowledged “there are some who are not, and we need to be tougher on them.”

Chile is currently undergoing reforms to its 1980 constitution, which dates back to when dictator General Augusto Pinochet was in power. The project will be submitted to voters in September.

Last month, the assembly working on the project approved a proposal to include a section that would require mining companies to set aside resources to deal with damage caused by mining activities, although it rejected the plans nationalization of certain parts of the industry.

The assembly also gave the green light to a ban on mining in glaciers, vital areas for the protection of water supplies and other protected regions.

Catherine Coumans, research coordinator at MiningWatch Canada, said she hopes reforms in Chile will also ensure that mining companies must also obtain informed consent from indigenous peoples in that country.

“Trudeau must put Canada’s house in order by implementing human rights due diligence legislation…that will require Canadian companies to respect human rights in their operations abroad. abroad and to provide aggrieved persons with access to Canadian courts for redress,” she said in an email.

Meanwhile, Boric hailed Canada’s freeze on the import, purchase, sale or transfer of handguns, which the Liberals have made a central part of gun control legislation introduced last week.

He said he wanted to introduce his own legislation that would ban everyone from owning a gun.

The Chilean government’s goal is to eliminate guns from criminal groups, and it does not want guns in civil society, Boric said in Spanish.

It is not enough to have regulations within a country, but international regulations are also necessary to stop the cross-border flow of firearms, he added.

Trudeau also said Canada and Chile are committed to co-sponsoring the Americas for the Ocean Protection Declaration, which aims to protect the Pacific Ocean.

“Canada and Chile are both ocean nations,” he said.

“We know that healthy oceans are essential for jobs in communities and for fighting climate change. Today’s announcement focuses on how we keep the Pacific Ocean healthy, from protecting migratory routes of marine animals to the preservation of delicate coastal ecosystems,” he said.

Canada and Chile also signed an agreement to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women in both countries. Gender Equality Minister Marci Ien said the agreement aims to establish a framework for the two governments to cooperate on public policies to promote women’s empowerment.

She said the two countries plan to support each other to remove socio-economic, cultural and institutional barriers that prevent women from participating in the economy and public life.

Trudeau said Canada and Chile have a long-standing positive relationship, and at a time when authoritarian states are rising and democracies are receding, it’s important to welcome a “strong and progressive voice” to the world stage.

“It’s great news for Chile, it’s great news for Canada, to have such a strong partner at the end of the continent.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on June 6, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of Meta and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.