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Canada’s new parliament must confront racism, says human rights commission

OTTAWA, Canada – Marie-Claude Landry, chief commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, congratulated prime minister Justin Trudeau along with all members of Canada’s new parliament and issues the following statement.

“This election has left Canada fractured and many Canadians feeling marginalized and divided. There is an urgent need to reunite our country.

“I call on our newly elected parliament to take concrete action to confront racism and intolerance, a daily reality for millions of people in Canada. No one should be made to feel like a second-class citizen because of the colour of their skin, what they believe or where they are from. Parliament must also continue to advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and address the legacy of racist laws and policies that continue to impact their daily lives.

“Specifically, I am calling on parliament to:

  • Oppose any law in Canada that violates the human rights of minorities;
  • Strengthen and implement Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy;
  • Develop a comprehensive approach to address the rise in hate crimes, shut down online hate and hold accountable those who spread it;
  • Denounce Islamophobia and Antisemitism as well as all forms of xenophobia aimed at demonizing immigrants and refugees;
  • Undertake bold reforms to address the staggering over-representation of Indigenous and black people in Canada’s criminal justice system, including reserving mandatory minimum sentences for the most serious crimes;
  • Implement the MMIWG’s calls to justice by taking meaningful steps to address systemic discrimination and violence against Indigenous women and girls, including those who are members of the 2SLGBTQI+ community; and
  • End the inequitable funding to Indigenous communities and ensure equal access to safe drinking water, adequate housing, education, healthcare, and child and family services.

“A country that stands for diversity, freedom, and inclusion must not stand by and allow racism, intolerance, and inequality to undermine our peace and prosperity. Whether you make these urgent human rights issues your priority or you ignore them they will be a part of your legacy.”

In reference to the above, Marie-Claude Landry, issued a statement August 22, 2017 that reads:

These last few weeks have been filled with news of a troubling rise in intolerance throughout the world:  terror attacks in Europe, alt-right protests in the US white supremacist rallies being held in cities across Canada, and organized groups protesting the arrival of refugees.  We continue to see human rights tested every day around the world. 

Last year, on December 19, 2016, we issued a statement of warning that included the following observations:

“We should be concerned that so many Canadians do not feel included. That our greatest achievement our diversity is being challenged. It’s being challenged by the recent rise in hate messaging and violence. It’s being challenged by a persistent xenophobic discourse cloaked in “Canadian values.” It’s being challenged by increasing intolerance and bigotry – acts of anti-Semitism, islamophobia, racism, and misogyny. We must be continually mindful of history and the lessons it has taught us because history is littered with subtle examples when indifference and intolerance – the lifeblood of hate – led to devastating consequences.”

Nine months later, these words have taken on much more urgency. As Canadians continued to observe the rise in hate elsewhere in the world, here, in Canada, it has grown — emboldened by our collective silence that is only now starting to break. We must unite our voices to send a message: Canada’s strength is its diversity. We will not tolerate intolerance. We should not, and will not, remain silent in the face of hate and intolerance. Silence makes us complicit.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission is calling on the federal government to deploy resources to support communities looking to counter the rise in hate. We need to create together a campaign a movement of inclusion that is louder, more positive than any hate message can be.

We are calling on all leaders to work to promote inclusion and diversity. We are calling on NGOs to continue their hard work of rallying their communities because we must unite before intolerance takes hold.

Hate should not go undocumented, and the Commission encourages Canadians who are or have been affected to share their stories with their local authorities, provincial and territorial human rights agencies, as well as the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Together, let’s ensure that “My Canada Includes Everyone” isn’t just a slogan, but it remains true today and continues to be true tomorrow.






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