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February 09, 2009


Javier Ojer


I recently became a member ad I am really deligthed with this blog and the articles and comments I have read.

I agree with our responsibility to (AT LEAST) acknowledge our memebership to the global community. I have been working internationally in community development projects, including economic development, for many years. To overlook how our decisions as consumers affect others globally would be irresponsible, specially when over the years we (western countries) have benefited form setting up companies (including monopolies) and exporting subsidized goods to developing countries, killing local businesses and economies.

We have had access to cheaper products and produced savings that have improved our quality of life. The flip side: now we are suffering the impacts of our actions and we are freaking out. All of a sudden the free market that has given us so much is not valid anymore (or should I say it does not work for us as well as it used to? Cause actually there has never been such a thing as a global FREE market) and we talk about the need of veto, boycott, more limits to imports, etc. And only now we justify ourselves saying that it is about human rights in developing countries. That is a bit ironic, isn´t it?

There are obviously human rights issues all around the world, many of them linked to labour. But those are not new, as it is not new our unfair commercial relations with developing countries. The point is how we want to adress those issues: we can polarize our position and only buy goods produced in our country (good luck with that...) or realize that we have been part of the situation we are in and act accordingly.

I have read many opinions blaming governments for disregarding human rights issues and other problems related to social welfare. Blaming only governments overlooks the fact that, sadly enough, governments all around the world do not represent and support their people. More important, it overlooks the role and responsibility of business and other organizations in governance, as well as our role and responsibility as global citizens.

There are many factors to be considered. I hink that a key one is how companies can redesign their relations with their partners, producers and workers in developing countries, so human rights can be addressed and we can work towards a more balanced international production-consumption system that does not need to damage some in order to benefit others. That system bits many hands, including Canadian ones; Now we know.


Hi Javier,

Thanks for your thoughts. I agree, we as a global community must rebalance the international production and consumption equation. It's destorying our planet and seriously harming 2 billion something people.

Cheers (if one can be cheerful given all this misery.)


Hi, saddened but inspired by this article, I just made a donation to an organization devoted to empowering and improving conditions for the impoverished in Asia, Africa, and elsewhere. I hope that helps some of these very needy children and mothers living all over the world.


Hi S.B.

Great to hear. Every little bit helps.



I think you have a very valid point: we should be looking to help those in poverty to find work. This is more sustainable then hand-outs.
I was recently shopping in MEC, and chose not to purchase an item, becuase it was made in India. I think my apprehension is that if it is not made in Canada, I do not know for certain that the article was made in ethical, sustainable conditions. Even things labels "Made in the USA" don't necessarily indicate ethically sourced materials. I'm not sure if this is the right place for such advice, but if MEC is serious about this (sourcing clothing from other countries, seeing this as a way to reduce costs, but also aid these countries), MEC needs a way of indicating that the article is sweat-shop free. Some people may understand intrinsically that since it is MEC brand, it must be ethically sourced-I unfortunatly am too jaded to have an understanding like that. I like something to be explicit.

Thanks for your article, it is a great way to open discussion about how we shop, and choose what we do buy.


Hi Jim,

Thanks for your careful thoughts. We don't believe there is a perfect "sweatshop" free clothing item. Ethical sourcing is about continuous improvement in a factory. It's not about a state of nirvana where workers are in bliss and are making oodles of of money.

Any brand out there that claims there products are "sweatshop" free is likely inaccurate or has a very liberal definition of "sweatshop".

We don't use the term sweatshop. It exaggerates the conditions of factories just like its inverse, sweatshop free.

Every factory has pay, working condition and other issues. Flip through our Ethical Sourcing reports and you'll know why.


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