Canada’s Reputation on Human Rights Continues to Slide

OTTAWA - The Green Party of Canada is saddened but not shocked by the scathing review of the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) for Canada’s lack of action to fix devastating conditions in First Nations communities. 

“Canada continues to talk about and study the issue but action never happens. UN CERD has long ago made recommendations that Canada never implemented. We had a Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) in 1996 and UN CERD made recommendations to implement the RCAP findings. This has been going on a long time,” said Green Aboriginal Affairs Critic Lorraine Rekmans. “Now the international community is taking notice. I can only hope that this latest condemnation from human rights experts will spur some action by the government.”

“The irony is that this criticism is coming directly after a First Nations and Crown gathering where no real commitments were made to address human rights violations. The Prime Minister has only just last week announced funding for literacy training,” added Rekmans.

All State parties, who are signatories to the CERD, are obliged to submit regular reports to the UN on how the rights are being implemented. States must report one year after acceding and then every two years. The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of concluding observations.

The report of the UN CERD, made up of human rights experts, was released last week in Geneva. Most of the criticisms centred on the problems faced by First Nations communities in Canada. 

“This is very unflattering international attention for Canada. It tarnishes us all,” said Rekmans.

“The UN Committee noted the terrible disparities between the way people in First Nations communities are forced to live and the way other Canadians live. First Nations are truly facing third-world conditions in this first-world country,” said Green Leader Elizabeth May.

The Green Party has been advocating for justice, equality and nation to nation dealings between Canada and First Nations. The Green Party has called for increased funding for First Nations education, economy, housing, health, and governance. In addition to the elimination of the out-dated Indian Act, the Green Party has been calling for greater investment in First Nations education, safe drinking water, and improved housing (at least $800 million a year), and restoration of the $5.1 billion commitment of the Kelowna Accord.

Media Contact: 
Rebecca Harrison