"Never before have Canadian organizations worried so much that there might be consequences if they disagree publicly with the government on a human rights concern." - Amnesty International
Ottawa (4 April 2011) - Canada's global reputation as a human rights champion has been eroded in recent years, according to a Amnesty International report that raises frequent criticisms of human rights and foreign policy under the Harper Conservative government.
The report, Getting Back on the 'Rights' Track,  released March 30, addresses a broad range of human rights issues that must be tackled if Canada is to reclaim its place as a leader.
Amnesty calls on political party leaders to use the federal election campaign to make concrete commitments to restore Canada’s leadership role. “As Canadians go to the polls they have a crucial opportunity to reflect on these fundamental issues."
“Deep at the core of the well-being, safety and prosperity of a country, and its place in world, is the approach a country takes to human rights issues,” says Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International. “Canada must reclaim its leading role in human rights.”
James Clancy, president of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) echoed Shetty’s comments. “Canada had a reputation of standing up in the face of injustice across the globe. Now, from women and maternal health to the environment to protecting Canadians abroad, Canadians hang their heads in shame because of government inaction.”
Shetty continued, “Candidates vying for office must know that Canadians are expecting and demanding they meet this international human rights challenge.”
But restoring Canada’s human rights leadership abroad is only half of the equation. The other half of what needs to be done is at home.
"On the home front, Canada's human rights movement feels under siege," the report states and points to "devastating cuts" in funding to Canadian agencies such as Kairos and the Canadian Council for International Co-operation for publicly disagreeing with government policy.
"Never before have Canadian organizations worried so much that there might be consequences if they disagree publicly with the government on a human rights concern."
The 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. NUPGE