Signatures sought for 'Raise Your Voices' declaration calling on the Harper government to respect the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
Ottawa (24 June 2010) - The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has joined a new national coalition against a mounting threat to the quality and health of Canada's democratic system.The group, called Voices-Voix, has just released a declaration entitled 'Raise Your Voices' that is being signed by labour groups, including NUPGE, as well as human rights, women’s, environment, student, faith-based and development organizations. The declaration calls on the Harper government in Ottawa to respect the right to freedom of opinion and expression, to act in accordance with Canada’s democratic traditions and values and to be more transparent.“Voices-Voix came together because of growing and serious concerns that the space for dissent and debate in Canada is rapidly shrinking,” says Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada. “It is vitally important that concrete steps be taken immediately to arrest this erosion. Canada’s reputation as a human rights leader is on the line.” The 'Raise Your Voices' declaration asserts that:“Since 2006, the government of Canada has systematically undermined democratic institutions and practices, and has eroded the protection of free speech, and other fundamental human rights. It has deliberately set out to silence the voices of organizations or individuals who raise concerns about government policies or disagree with government positions."“The Voice-Voix coalition is demanding that this government stop targeting and undermining organizations that speak out to change or challenge government policy,” says Gerry Barr, president and CEO of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC). “If you shut down diversity, there will be weak policy debate and that means bad public policy.”Leilani Farha, executive director of the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) adds that the government can use its power to deny organizations funding or fire people to silence their critique. "But Voices is a declaration that we will not disappear, that we will claim human rights and we will defend our democratic space," she says.The 'Raise Your Voices' Declaration can be signed through the link at the bottom of this report.NUPGEThe National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGEMore information:• Sign the Declaration of the Voices-Voix Coalition• NUPGE condemns ideological attack by Harper Tories on civil society organizations