Green Party Platform: 4.11.5 Corporate accountability, 4.11.6 Access to justice

A continuing review of  the Green Party of Canada’s Platform:

4.11.5 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 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.
  • 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.

 

4.11.6 Access to justice

Canada seems to have a two-tiered justice system. The rising costs and complexities of litigation mean that only the wealthy have easy access to effective legal representation in our courts. Middle-class Canadians are increasingly unable to adequately defend themselves due to the cost and complexity of Canada’s judicial processes.

Greens understand, however, that we won’t have real justice in Canada until we have justice for all Canadians. This means affordable and accessible courts as well as laws that allow for the protection of our collective rights and the valuable natural resources we all hold in common. A responsible Canadian government can initiate a fresh approach to our justice system and ensure it becomes more fair and equitable.

The Green Party believes we, as a free and democratic society, must increase access to justice for the people of Canada through a range of measures. We also believe a responsible government must support lawyers who offer service to those in genuine need.

Green Party MPs will:

  • Increase access to justice for all Canadians notwithstanding their financial situation, by working with the provincial governments to establish a comprehensive National Legal Aid plan that will provide stable, long-term funding.

  • Simplify those matters within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal Court of Canada or Tax Court (e.g. intellectual property, income tax appeals, CPP and disability claims). Reducing the amount of time spent in court on civil and criminal matters saves taxpayers money and helps ensure cases are not kicked out due to excessive delay.

  • Increase the use of alternative dispute resolution processes, such as mediation and collaborative lawyering, in family and civil courts to reduce conflicts in relationship breakdowns.

  • Amend the Divorce Act to ensure children are no longer treated like the spoils of war. We will launch a consultation with Canadians, with the legal community, family therapists and other experts to seek ways to reduce, and preferably eliminate, the adversarial nature of family law. The Child Support Guidelines were intended as a step in this direction through standardizing the quantum of child support and not forcing the parties to prove need and ability to pay in court (see Section 4.11.2 Reforming the Divorce Act).

Comments and discussion are welcomed.  I am examining this as I go to gain a better grasp of their platform and invite all who are interested to do the same with comments and discussion.

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