Catholic makes her mark on Canadian mining

By 
  • October 5, 2007
{mosimage}TORONTO - The Young Liberals of Ontario are urging the Liberal Party to regulate Canadian mining companies operating abroad.

This is thanks to the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace member Danielle Takacs, who convinced the Brant Young Liberals group, of which she is a member, to propose the policy recommendation titled: “Enforcing standards of practice for Canadian mining companies operating abroad” to the regional and then provincial youth parliament.  

“My work with Development and Peace inspired me to bring it to the political level,” said the 24-year-old studying for her masters degree in political science at the University of Guelph.

{sidebar id=2}Development and Peace, the official international development organization of the Catholic bishops of Canada, has been raising awareness and lobbying the federal government to regulate Canadian mining companies abroad since last fall.   

Some 170 youth under age 26 gathered at the Ontario Young Liberals Policy Conference Aug. 10-12 in North Bay, Ont., to vote on policy recommendations that the Liberal Party of Ontario should adopt. The Canadian mining recommendation was one of five proposals chosen out of 15, receiving only 10 opposing votes. It came in as the third resolution just after student discounts for public transit and rebates on environmentally friendly products.

Having one of the young Liberals put a human face to the issue at the conference may have helped the resolution pass, said Takacs.

“He got up and said ‛I want everybody to know here that I’m from Chile, and this issue is real.’

“Youth today are socially active minded when it comes to things such as the environment and I think Canadians, as well, are concerned about their international image,” said Takacs, recently nominated as the southwestern Ontario regional youth co-ordinator for Development and Peace.  

“There was concern if it would hurt the Canadian stock market and some people didn’t believe it was Canadians’ responsibility to put these standards in place. It was the country’s (responsibility) where the mining goes on.”

Takacs disagreed. She said certain mining companies are diminishing the international reputation of Canadians.

“I think going abroad and not being afraid... is worth more than the stock market doing well one day.”  

The policy would see all Canadian mining companies use the same ethical standards when operating outside of Canada.

“If you are (a company) operating legitimately then you don’t have anything to worry about,” Takacs said.  

While Takacs has been involved with the Young Liberals since she was 14, this is the first policy that she contributed.  

“This policy recommendation will ensure that Liberal leaders will be informed about this injustice being perpetuated by some Canadian mining companies,”said Development and Peace national youth director Lori Ryan.

Currently, a federal policy analyst is rewriting the policy. Then the Young Liberals will  lobby the Liberal members of Parliament at caucus meetings in the hopes it will be adopted as official policy.  

“I think (faith) can definitely be a guiding and inspiring drive,” said Takacs. “Politics can be a tough and often a dirty game. I think it’s important to be involved for the right reasons and persevere.”

Canadian youth are invited to join one of the 12 regional Development and Peace youth representatives to meet with their area MP this fall to call on the government to regulate Canadian mining companies.

Contact Takacs for more information at danielle.takacs@utoronto.ca.

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