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The ultimate summer running playlist

Lace up your runners and put your earphones on, you’ll want to turn up the volume for these hot tracks

The ultimate summer running playlist

We all know Toronto only has two seasons: winter, and construction. So, now that the weather is starting to warm up, try listening to these tunes to block out the city noise when you feel like going for a run.

  1. “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, 1982

I strongly recommend starting your cardio workout with a light jog transitioning to a sprint with this classic track featured in Rocky III. This song is my go-to warm-up beat and is guaranteed to help you run the distance.

  1. “Run Run Run” by Celeste Buckingham, 2012

In this catchy tune, the artist sings, “You better run, run, run / Nowhere to run / But to me.” If lyrics can contain subliminal messages, then they are sure to get you motivated for the exhilarating run ahead!

  1. “Nonstop” by Drake, 2018

With over 800 million streams on Spotify, Drake’s song “Nonstop” from his 2018 album Scorpion is clearly a popular fan favourite. The Toronto native sings about the fast-paced music industry and his impressive work ethic that evidently paid for his timeless timepiece: a Rolex watch. Cue the beat: “This a Rollie, not a stopwatch, shit don’t ever stop.” If this isn’t a Toronto man’s jam, I don’t know what is.

  1. “Stayin’ Alive” by Bee Gees, 1977

When you feel a runner’s cramp coming on — usually on the right side, just under the ribs — keep your beats per minute (BPM) steady to this tune featured in the 1977 drama/romance movie Saturday Night Fever, featuring a bearded John Travolta. Fun fact: the beat in this song has also been used repeatedly to teach CPR.

  1. “Summertime Sadness” by Lana Del Rey, Cedric Gervais remix, 2012

Summertime is rad, not sad! Especially when you’re listening to the sweet, seductive voice of Lana Del Rey. Her angelic vocals, which are remixed in this up-beat version, are pure serenity. So, enjoy the summer sun heat and feel the beat while the soles of your feet skip through the streets.

  1. “All Day and Night” by Jax Jones, Martin Solveig, and Madison Beer, 2019

The best thing about this song is the continuous melody which makes it a perfect track to run to without interruptions. Hopefully, this trio of artists will collaborate again to make another great running anthem.

  1. “Runnin” by Mike WiLL made-it, feat. A$AP Rocky, A$AP Ferg, and Nicki Minaj, 2018

“Runnin, runnin, runnin, this shit, both legs broke / Runnin, round town, yeah they comin for my head though / Funny thing about it they don’t always see my head though.” The lyrics speak for themselves, but please don’t break your legs for the sake of your run.

  1. “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” by Daft Punk, 2001

I highly recommend blasting this tune to get you pumped for summer. Daft Punk’s songs have an incredibly unique way of engaging the listener, using fool-proof beats that are guaranteed to keep you moving, and maybe even dancing.

  1. “Alors On Danse” by Stromae, DubDogz remix, 2010

Speaking of dancing, this French song “Alors on Dance” — meaning so we dance — is the perfect track. Whether you’re training for a marathon, hitting the treadmill at your local gym, or warming up for a dance-off, this is your tune!

  1. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, 2013

End your workout on a high — a runner’s high. While cardiovascular exercise increases the release of endorphins, adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine in your body, this upbeat and feel-good song will similarly leave you feeling euphoric and energized.

Blue Sky Solar Racing unveils new solar-powered race car

Viridian will compete in race of over 3000 kilometres across Australia

Blue Sky Solar Racing unveils new solar-powered race car

A team of U of T Engineering undergraduate students named Blue Sky Solar Racing unveiled Viridian, the 10th generation of its solar-powered race car, in its first public unveiling event on June 24.

For over 22 years, different compositions of the team designed, built, and raced solar-powered cars, creating a new generation every two years.

This year, Blue Sky Solar Racing completed the design and manufacture of Generation X. The vehicle was showcased to the public for the first time at Myhal Centre Auditorium.

Race car’s manufacture celebrated by keynote speakers

The buzzing audience included team alumni, sponsors, and staff from the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. Around 200 guests attended in total.

Following an introduction by Managing Director Hubaab K. Hussain, two professors delivered remarks onstage.

Professor Amy Bilton, the Director of the Centre of Global Engineering, discussed her experiences as an alumna of Blue Sky Solar Racing. She reflected on her involvement as the Aerodynamics Team Lead in 2006, and noted that the team puts in an incredible amount of effort each year.

“[The team members] are basically doing more than a full-time job at the same time as they are doing a full load of engineering courses,” she said.

Professor Cristopher Yip, the Dean of the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, also spoke at the event, and congratulated the team on their successful manufacture of Generation X.

The unveiling of Viridian onstage

In a wave of applause, team members pulled back the curtain to reveal their feat of design.

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Viridian is a boat-shaped solar-powered race car with a length of approximately three metres. The hood of the vehicle is covered with an array of solar panels. A glass hemisphere swells from the middle of the car, serving as the windshield.

In an interview with The Varsity, Hussain said that Viridian can reach a top speed of 120 kilometres per hour according to previous testing.

He said that the team continues to work on testing and characterizing the car ⁠— in addition to getting some much-needed sleep. This will be in preparation for racing Viridian in the international Bridgestone World Solar Challenge this autumn.

Racing 3000 kilometres in Australia

Viridian’s race will be the seventh time that the team’s vehicle will make the cross-continental trip from Darwin to Adelaide in Australia. Travelling north to south of the country, Viridian will race a course of 3000 kilometres.

The competition is set to begin in October. Before then, the team will repeatedly test the car to get as much characterized information about its performance as possible. Details such as its power consumption at certain speeds, as well as how certain environmental conditions affect Viridian’s performance, are especially valuable.

Potential commercial applications

Outside of racing competitions, solar-powered cars have an immense commercial potential. Hussain highlighted Lightyear, a start-up electric car manufacturer in the Netherlands.

The European company released their first solar-powered electric car on the same day as Blue Sky Solar Racing’s unveiling event. Its new car, named Lightyear One, is set to be released on the market soon, with a listed price of €149,000 in the Netherlands, roughly equivalent to 218,400 CAD.

In addition to developing solar-powered race cars, Hussain said that Blue Sky Solar Racing also aims to provide opportunities to enrich the experiences of undergraduates.

“The [goal] of the [Blue Sky Solar Racing],” said Hussain, “is to provide students with an opportunity to grow and develop outside of the classroom, as well as promote sustainable technology.”

Opinion: A national pharma care plan could rein in soaring drug prices

Lack of prescription drug coverage has led to some of the highest costs in the world

Opinion: A national pharma care plan could rein in soaring drug prices

Canada has one of the highest prices for prescriptions drugs in the world. Prescription drug spending has become the second-largest cost to the Canadian health care system, ranking only behind hospital expenditures.

That cost is only rising.

A number of factors, such as demographics and prescription volume, are responsible for this increase. However, the main factor driving up overall spending is the ballooning cost of prescribed medications itself.

The drug development process

The pharmaceutical industry has made incredible advances in recent years. There are now medications that can help manage and even cure diseases that were once untreatable. However, these medications often come with hefty charges. For example, the cost of hepatitis C treatment can well exceed $100,000 per patient.

It is estimated that these high-cost drugs will account for 42 per cent of prescription drug expenditure by 2020, a figure that is well above its 17.5 per cent share in 2010.

According to pharmaceutical companies, the steep price is needed, in part, to finance the extensive drug development process. This process takes well over a decade and includes preclinical testing, clinical trials for safety and efficacy, as well as the federal drug application review.

For every 5000 compounds discovered, five drugs enter clinical trials and just one new drug receives federal approval. Although most firms decline to disclose the cost of research and development, it can vary from several hundred million dollars to over $12 billion.

Once the drug is approved for sale in Canada, the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) — a federal agency — sets the maximum price of the drug based on the price of similar medications on the market.

Prescription drug coverage in the Canadian health care system

Canada is the only high-income economy — nations with at least $12,056 USD in gross national income per capita — with a public health care system that does not include prescription drug coverage. Although drugs administered in hospitals are provided to patients at no cost, patients out of hospitals must purchase prescription medications either through insurance plans, whether public or private, or from their own pocket.

Public insurance plans are offered by provincial and territorial governments to special populations, such as the elderly, individuals with disabilities, and unemployed individuals. Private insurance plans may be available as a benefit to individuals through their employer.

The number and type of medications covered by public and private insurance plans vary significantly. Patients who have neither a public nor a private insurance plan must pay for their prescriptions themselves.

Furthermore, due to the presence of multiple public and private insurance plans in Canada, there is no single agent for pharmaceutical companies to bargain with when setting drug prices.

“When you have a single agent, [that agent has a] much stronger ability to drive down what [Canadians are] going to pay,” said Dr. Jodel Lexchin, an associate professor at U of T’s Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, in an interview with The Varsity.

“Drug companies know that if they cannot reach a suitable price with that bargaining body, then they may still be able to sell the drug in the country.”

However, Lexchin noted that companies are disincentivized from selling prescription drugs directly to the public. The firms would receive less revenue, as insurance providers can afford to pay higher prices for prescription drugs as opposed to patients who are paying out of pocket.

The role of the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board

The PMPRB attempts to mitigate the lack of a single payer health care system in Canada by controlling the prices of patented drugs. The organization can challenge the price of patented drugs sold in Canada and demand pharmaceutical companies to repay some revenue.

While the number of investigations into high-cost drugs has been rising, regulations proposed by Health Canada would allow the PMPRB to assess the value of new drugs by reviewing cost-effectiveness analyses, which may lower maximum drug prices.

However, these individual successes are unlikely to have a significant impact on the pricing war between pharmaceutical companies and bargaining agents. The PMPRB can control the price of a single high-cost drug on the market, but subsequent drugs may also be priced outrageously upon entering the market.

Considering it is not feasible for federal agencies to open investigations into all emerging high-cost drugs, Lexchin believes that a system-level change to address drug prices is needed.

Drug prices in the global pharmaceutical market

“The only group that really benefits [from high drug prices] are the companies that are making the products,” explained Lexchin. These are multinational companies that have substantial power in the United States. For this reason, the US has the highest drug prices in the world and a considerably larger market than Canada.

Pharmaceutical companies worry that similar prices could spread into the US, if Canada attempts to lower our drug prices. Therefore, these companies lobby the American government to put pressure on Canadian officials and prevent regulation that would result in lower drug prices.

Despite having lower prices than the US, drug prices in Canada are already greater than the global average. Drug prices in other high-income countries, such as Denmark, can be less than half of those in Canada.

Many of these high-income countries have a universal health care system that includes prescription drug coverage. Having a single payer system for prescription drugs gives them greater bargaining power and effectively reduces drug prices. Other countries may have profit controls.

Either way, pharmaceutical companies must control drug prices such that their profits are within the designated margin.

Next steps for Canada

There have been growing efforts within the federal government to establish a national “pharmacare” program. This means that prescription drugs would be covered as part of the universal health care system.

A national drug plan requires a national formulary, explained Lexchin, which is a list of medications covered by public insurance. Drugs on this formulary would be selected based on evidence of cost effectiveness.

For example, if five drugs in a class of medications are equally effective and safe, but vary in price, the government may only elect to pay for two of the five medications. The plan would only pay for the most cost effective medications in that group, without compromising safety or efficacy.

Patients may still be able to use private insurance plans or out-of-pocket payments to purchase the other, more expensive medications.

But without effective reforms, such as national pharma care, drug prices in Canada will continue to rise. Several drugs already have an annual cost exceeding hundreds of thousands of dollars,  which can mean a difference between life and death.

For most Canadians to be able to afford these life-saving medications, however, reform must take place to rein in these current drug prices.

Women in STEM: Mehnaz Ahmed

Recent Master's graduate discusses representations in media and challenges of academia

Women in STEM: Mehnaz Ahmed

This year, Mehnaz Ahmed completed her Master of Science at U of T’s Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. In addition to conducting scientific research, Ahmed has participated in Dove’s Project #ShowUs, an advocacy project that aims to better represent women and non-binary individuals by creating a library of stock photography for use in advertising and media, and was a mentor to undergraduate students like me. 

The hidden challenges of academia

As a graduate student, Ahmed investigated the relationship between the activity of an enzyme — named peripheral glutathione peroxidase — and the cognitive performance of individuals at an early stage of vascular dementia. Vascular dementia is a neurological disorder caused by impaired blood flow to the brain.

She described the challenges she faced as internal ones. “In essence doubting myself and wondering if I would ever be successful in research or in science overall,” she wrote in an email to me.

What helped her overcome these obstacles, she wrote, was changing her perspective: “redefining what success [means] to [her] in terms of establishing a certain work-life balance.”

But striking a work-life balance is a challenge on its own.

To reach this balance, she planned for “things to look forward to after a long period of working,” which helped prevent feelings of burnout or demotivation, which can stem from long-term work.

Having completed her Master’s degree, Ahmed is in the process of choosing a path that will enable her to pursue a fulfilling career.

She is motivated “to build a life that is worth living according to [her].” Ahmed also believes that “material items will [neither] make [her] happy at the end of the day,” nor contribute to her efforts to make positive change in the world.

Mentorship as a tool for growth

Ahmed was my Senior Peer Mentor in U of T’s “First in the Family” program, which connects first-generation university students to mentors, with the aim of easing the new students into university life. We eventually fostered a close friendship.

“[Being a mentor] gave me the validation that I had important knowledge to share and reminded me that I had overcome the same difficulties my mentees had and I was able to hopefully serve as a source of support,” wrote Ahmed.

Ahmed’s own mentor, Dr. Krista Lanctôt, a Senior Scientist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, played an important role in her development.

Ahmed noted that having a female supervisor and mentor is crucial as she “was able to see that conducting productive research was possible while still living a fulfilling life outside of the lab and juggling a family as well.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re doing a lot better than you think.”

Dove created the Project #ShowUs initiative alongside Getty Images and Girlgaze to create a stock photo library of women and non-binary individuals.

Ahmed was photographed for the project by Alia Youssef, who had previously captured Ahmed’s image for Youssef’s “The Sisters Project,” which strives to dismantle discriminatory beliefs against Muslim women.

Participating in Project #ShowUs was important, wrote Ahmed, as it reinforces “the notion that these images of beauty in all forms must first start with appreciating the perspectives of women.”

The importance of a diverse representation of people in the media was noted by Ahmed, who added that “not all women and Muslim women are similar and they can often be painted with the same monolithic brush. The more representation there is, the more people will be comfortable being themselves.”

Ahmed added that the particular stereotype of Muslim women being reserved has sometimes been a challenge for her.

“There have been instances when I describe potential career trajectories [to others] where I can’t help but feel a tiny instance of being judged, in terms of not conforming to what others may perceive me as,” she wrote. This has sometimes created a pressure for her to perform to a certain standard, to challenge these expectations.

Ahmed’s advice for women pursuing STEM is to believe in yourself, be curious, and be resilient.

“Whatever is meant for you will not pass you.”

Canadian companies criticized for abuses abroad

The occlusive power of Canadian corporate identity

Canadian companies criticized for abuses abroad

In 2015 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told The New York Times that Canadian values include “openness, respect, compassion, willingness to work hard, to be there for each other, [and] to search for equality and justice.”

Of the prominent corporations headquartered in Canada, such as the mining companies Barrick Gold, Nevsun Resources, and Hudbay Minerals; the transportation company Bombardier Inc.; and the software company Netsweeper, most carry out the majority of their operations overseas. This means that although they are technically Canadian, they overwhelmingly impact the non-Canadian communities that they operate within and employ from.

Nevertheless, their reputations are buoyed by their Canadian identity. The Globe and Mail reported that such corporations enjoy a “strategic advantage” in Canadian markets.

In other words, Canadian consumers are more willing to trust, purchase products or services from, and work for corporations with Canadian identities.

This is especially true for mining corporations, reports The Walrus. Such companies headquartered in Canada enjoy “a positive national image, a solid reputation for mining expertise, and access to government resources through [Canadian] embassies abroad.”

Yet as Canadian companies enjoy these perks back home, advocacy groups have questioned whether they are acting in accordance with Canadian values in their operations overseas. Many have grappled with lawsuits and protests stemming from alleged human rights violations in foreign countries, contravening the so-called Canadian values of compassion, equality, and justice.

Barrick Gold is a recent example of a Canadian corporation that made headlines for alleged human rights violations. The firm was founded by philanthropist Peter Munk, after whom the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy is named.

The Munk School of Global Affairs. File photo: BERNARDA GOSPIC/THE VARSITY

Munk donated $6.4 million to the construction of the Munk School of Global Affairs, which was at the time named the Munk Centre for International Studies. The institution opened in 2000, and in 2009 his foundation made an additional donation of $35 million. In 2018, the school merged with U of T’s School of Public Policy & Governance to form the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.

His foundation’s donations to the Munk School have drawn criticism from students and professors alike, some of which questioned whether the U of T is compromising its institutional integrity by accepting Munk’s donations.

Gold, human rights, and Papua New Guinea

On May 7, Barrick Gold faced scrutiny from the advocacy group MiningWatch Canada during its annual general meeting, a mandatory gathering for the corporation to hold for its shareholders.

“It is shameful that year after year since 2008, either I or people affected by your mines from all over the world, have had to stand here to testify to ongoing environmental and human rights abuses at your mines,” said Catherine Coumans, a research coordinator for MiningWatch Canada at the general meeting.

Coumans cited Barrick Gold’s alleged complicity in abuses including “excessively violent security guards” and unsafe disposal of waste byproducts from mining.

This corresponds with earlier accusations, including research from 2009 led by legal scholar Sarah Knuckey, now associated with Columbia Law School, alleging that Barrick Gold did not do “due diligence in hiring security” for its facilities in Porgera, Papua New Guinea.

According to Knuckey, Barrick Gold’s lack of diligence in hiring security contributed to a number of problems. Her team has since submitted “evidence of eight rapes and two other acts of sexual violence” to the Canadian government.

Flag held by demonstrators agitating against Barrick Gold. SHANNA HUNTER/THE VARSITY.

According to The National Observer, Barrick Gold “dismissed reports that security forces were killing men and raping women as lies,” until a report in 2011 by Human Rights Watch documented six alleged incidents of gang rape by mine security personnel in Papua New Guinea from 2008–2010.

During its 2019 annual general meeting, Barrick CEO Mark Bristow responded to Coumans by acknowledging that there are “specific issues that you [Coumans] refer to,” but noted that Barrick has “dealt with them in the past, and… will always continue to deal with those allegations.”

However, Bristow downplayed the role of Barrick in alleged incidents of rape, arson, and assault by mine guards in Tanzania, saying that Acacia Mining, which employed or hosted the guards, operates independently of Barrick, even though they are Acacia’s majority stakeholder.

Bristow further contended that Barrick seeks to “create value” for the communities in which it operates, raising the quality of life of its 17,000 employees across Africa by giving them training and employment to contribute to their local economies.

This echoes a previous defence given by Munk to the Toronto Star in response to protests in Toronto against Barrick’s activities in Papua New Guinea in 2010.

“By moving into these countries and developing their mines, we provide — way beyond the importance of money — we provide human dignity,” said Munk. “We provide an opportunity for these people to earn their money, rather than hold out their hands and depend on charity.”

While Barrick may not have deliberately directed violence against the locals, advocacy groups contend that the company had a responsibility to prevent violence committed by its personnel. Barrick’s response has been to deny responsibility and deflect attention from the negative consequences of its operations by drawing attention to its role in job creation.

Though Barrick’s response may minimize its legal exposure, advocacy groups contend that it has not prioritized the lives of its employees or local residents in the areas where the company operates.

Similar allegations levelled against Hudbay in Guatemala

Barrick is not the only Canadian mining company under fire for alleged complicity in human rights violations overseas. Hudbay Minerals has faced similar allegations in Guatemala, resulting in Canadian lawsuits for negligence.

Eleven women reported gang rape in 2007 and identified the perpetrators as men employed by Hudbay to remove them from their homes in Lote Ocho, Guatemala for the company’s operations, according to a report by The New York Times.

The Times further reported that Hudbay has faced legal claims over alleged negligence which resulted in the death of local leader and teacher Adolfo Ich Chamán, as well as the shooting and paralysis of a bystander, German Chub, as the result of gunfire during protests against Hudbay’s operations in El Estor, Guatemala in 2009.

Hudbay has denied wrongdoing, saying that no “mining security officials” were present during the evictions at Lote Oche, and that no rapes took place.

The corporation further disputed that it was liable for any alleged damages affecting these women, saying that the mine responsible for the evictions was owned by a subsidiary of Skye Resources Inc., another Canadian company, until 2008, when Hudbay purchased it.

In response to legal claims that Hudbay is responsible for the death of Chamán and severe harm to Chub, the corporation maintains that these resulted from self-defence on the part of the mine’s security guards against armed protestors.

Despite Hudbay’s position, Mynor Padilla, the mine’s head of security during the El Estor shootings, has been placed on trial in Guatemala for the death of Chamán and the paralysis of Chub.

Bombardier, Netsweeper face allegations of complicity in human rights violations, by virtue of their clients

Barrick and Hudbay have faced accusations of negligence due to severe crimes allegedly committed by their employees. Yet Canadian corporations such as Bombardier and Netsweeper have also come under fire for allegations of knowingly conducting business with entities likely to use their services to violate human rights.

Following the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, which used to be Ukrainian territory, Canadian foreign policy has been to support Ukraine in the de facto Ukrainian-Russian conflict.

But in July 2018, Bombardier won an $8 million contract to install rail-control systems which would help construct a railway line between Russia’s western and southern military districts.

According to military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer in an interview with The Globe and Mail, the railway line is “of highly strategic importance” to Russia, as the primary function of the line is to transport military personnel within areas of Russian territory near Ukraine.

In response to The Globe’s inquiries, Bombardier has maintained that its projects are “compliant with Canada’s sanctions against Russia,” despite the Ukrainian Canadian Congress lobby group contending that the project has “evident military implications.”

Bombardier has also come under fire for allegedly enabling human rights violations by Israel against Palestinians, according to a recently published book by Associate Professor David P. Thomas of Mount Allison University in New Brunswick.

Thomas, who studies politics and international relations, has contended that Bombardier has been “complicit” in the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory of Beit Surik, due to Bombardier’s sale of supply trains for Israel’s A1 railway. The high-speed rail link, which connects Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, uses land near Beit Surik, reports Reuters.

By selling the trains to Israel, Thomas asserts that Bombardier contributed to a project that requires the occupation of Palestinian territory, which Canada considers to be illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Netsweeper, a Waterloo, Ontario based company, has faced similar criticism for creating software that has enabled 10 countries to prevent access to “news, religious content, LGBTQ+ resources, and political campaigns” from their citizens, according to research by U of T’s Citizen Lab.

“Canada is a country that’s defined by its values. This is a Canadian company headquartered here,” said Citizen Lab researcher Ron Deibert to CBC News. The researchers maintained that the censorship enabled by Netsweeper’s software has posed serious concerns to the human rights of residents in those countries.

The role of Canadian courts

Canadian courts will judge whether companies like Hudbay are legally complicit in human rights violations.

A precedent-setting lawsuit against Vancouver-based mining company Nevsun Resources Ltd. has reached the Supreme Court of Canada, as three lawsuits stemming from allegations against Hudbay have been under review by the Ontario Superior Court.

The charges against Nevsun stem from its alleged complicity in using conscripted labour to build a gold mine in Eritrea. In an interview with The Varsity, Yolanda Song, a U of T research associate in the International Human Rights Program, said that conscripts allegedly faced conditions of “slavery, forced labour, and torture” from members of the Eritrean military.

The Supreme Court of Canada. RWHGOULD/CC FLICKR

The refugees who filed the case against Nevsun allege that the corporation knew or should have known about the use of forced labour in its mine, failed to do anything to stop it, and “knowingly decided to work with the Eritrean government, despite its poor track record of human rights violations,” explained Song.

Nevsun’s defence lies in the “act of state doctrine,” which asserts that Canadian courts cannot judge the lawfulness of the sovereign acts by another country. Song explained that Nevsun has asserted that the act prevents Canadian courts from determining whether the Eritrean program of indefinite forced labour is illegal.

If this is true, Nevsun argues that the corporation is not liable for the human rights violations of using forced labour in Eritrea.

“Our big concern is that if the rule was applied in this way,” said Song, “then you could have huge implications for corporate accountability for their practices.”

“It essentially immunizes companies who knowingly partner up with dictatorships… and it helps incentivize the corporations to pass off their responsibilities, and turn [a blind eye] if they do eventually discover evidence in some wrongdoing.”

Possible solutions 

As Maighdlin Mahoney of The Varsity wrote, corporate sponsorship of public events can deflect attention away from alleged complicity and enablement of human rights abuses.

Mahoney wrote about the hypocrisy of Bud Light in becoming a major sponsor of Pride Toronto while also being a major sponsor of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, despite Russia’s anti-gay purges in Chechnya.

Use of student activism, both inside and outside of social media, can draw attention to the alleged lack of accountability of such companies, mounting pressure on key stakeholders to act.

A key influence in pushing for accountability in companies, argues opinion columnist Errol Mendes of The Globe and Mail, is the stakeholders of these companies. Mendes contends that shareholders of Canadian companies have a responsibility in ensuring that the firms they invest in act ethically.

These ethical standards can be set by international instruments such as the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which provides a mechanism for companies to best ensure they do not contribute to human rights violations.

In contrast, Associate Professor Penelope Simons of the University of Ottawa, and Professor Audrey Macklin of the University of Toronto have placed greater emphasis on change stemming from legislation, in an op-ed to The Globe and Mail.

“The government needs to take bolder steps to protect the human rights of individuals and communities affected by resource extraction by Canadian companies,” they wrote. “Companies insisting that voluntary self-regulation is adequate and that their conduct already meets or exceeds global standards have little to fear from regulation.”

“They should welcome measures that compel their less scrupulous colleagues to cease engaging in the kind of conduct that gives Canadian extractives — and Canada — a bad name.”