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Canada

    May 25, 2016

    By Craig Benjamin

    The president of Royal Society of Canada – a national association of Canada scholars – has written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to urge the government to "step back" from the Site C hydro-electric project. It's reported that this is the first time in decades that the Royal Society has taken a public position in opposition to a specific project.

    The letter states that government approval of the Site C dam – despite numerous serious concerns identified in the environmental impact assessment process – "goes against the Canadian government emphasis on evidence-based decision-making."

    The letter also condemns the failure to uphold the Treaty rights of First Nations in the Peace River region, stating, "That is not the blueprint for Canada in the twenty-first century, especially given Canada's recent decision to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Work on the Site C project should be discontinued for this reason alone."

    May 25, 2016

     

    By Craig Benjamin

    "Clean the English-Wabigoon River System. Water is sacred." Judy da Silva, Grassy Narrows First Nation

    May 23, 2016

    The Honourable Stéphane Dion      The Honourable Omar Alghabra
    Minister of Foreign Affairs                Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs
    125 Sussex Drive                             125 Sussex Drive
    Ottawa, Ontario                                Ottawa, Ontario
    K1A 0G2                                           K1A 0G2

    May 20, 2016

    Dear Minister Dion and Parliamentary Secretary Alghabra,

    May 20, 2016

    Sixty-six percent (66%) of Canadian respondents say our government should do more to help refugees fleeing war or persecution.  Younger Canadians are much more likely to think that their government should do more to help refugees (76% agree).  This is the arresting result of an international survey, the Canadian portion of which was conducted from March 7 to 24, 2016, only days after the Government of Canada met its objective to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees between November 2015 and the end of February 2016.  The survey was carried out by internationally renowned strategy consultancy GlobeScan and polled more than 27,000 people in 27 countries.

     

     

    Has Canada done enough?

    May 17, 2016

    Yesterday, the Canadian Border Services Agency, (CBSA) announced that a 24-year-old-man, detained under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act at the Edmonton Remand Centre, had passed away. 

    “We are saddened by the news of a third death in CBSA’s custody in 2016,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International, Canada.

    “It is unconscionable that immigration detainees can die in custody and that there is no independent agency with a mandate to step in and ensure human rights obligations have been met.”

    On March 8, Amnesty International joined other human rights organizations across Canada, calling for an independent oversight of CBSA.  Clearly, it is now ever more urgent that the Government of Canada explore alternatives to immigration detention and mandate an independent agency to oversee CBSA.

    Click here for our response to the death of a person held for immigration related reasons at the Toronto East Detention Centre, on March 7.

    May 17, 2016

    Amnesty International welcomes Bill C-16, tabled today by the government of Canada to enshrine the equality rights of transgender individuals in Canadian law and protect them from hate crimes.  The important move will uphold the human rights of individuals who are vulnerable to significantly heightened levels of discrimination and violence, in Canada and worldwide.

    Bill C-16 will add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act, bringing federal law into line with human rights legislation in eight provinces and territories.  It will also add gender identity and gender expression to hate crimes sentencing provisions in the Canadian Criminal Code, providing transgender individuals with stronger protection from being deliberately targeted for acts of violence.

    May 17, 2016

    By Alexander Kennedy, LGBTI Coordinator

    In June 2005, I sat in the gallery of the House of Commons the night the Civil Marriage Act was passed. It was a moment of joy, the culmination of years of work by LGBTI activists, and yet in the midst of the celebrations I found myself wondering when trans people would get our moment, the recognition that our rights matter too.

    This morning, more than a decade later, I sat in the gallery of the House of Commons as the Minister of Justice introduced Bill C-16 to extend human rights protections to trans people in Canada, surrounded by some of the many trans activists who have worked long and hard to make this day a reality.

    May 13, 2016

    Guest Blogger: Michelle Robidoux from the War Resisters Support Campaign

    Twelve years ago this month, a campaign was launched in Canada to assist U.S. conscientious objectors to the Iraq War in gaining asylum here. Canadians massively rejected the war, and in 2003, the Canadian government made the decision not to participate in it. The many thousands of Vietnam War resisters – both deserters and draft resisters – who were welcomed to Canada 40 years earlier were concrete evidence of Canadians' support for freedom of conscience.

    But unlike their predecessors, the Iraq War resisters experienced systematic obstacles to being allowed to stay. Between 2008 and 2012, three of these conscientious objectors were deported by the Canadian government to the United States, where they were arrested, court-martialed and jailed. Each of them was harshly punished, with jail terms of 12 to 15 months and felony convictions.

    May 12, 2016

    Amnesty International strongly welcomes Canada's recent statement of unconditional support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

    On May 10, federal Minister of Indigenous Affairs Carolyn Bennett told the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues that Canada is "now a full supporter of the Declaration, without qualification."

    The Minister went on to describe implementation of the Declaration as "breathing new life into section 35" - the provision of the Canadian Constitution affirming Aboriginal and Treaty rights - "and recognizing it now as a full box of rights for Indigenous peoples in Canada." 

    May 09, 2016

    “Our Elders continue to remind us that we must protect the land, and exercise our Indigenous Rights and Treaty Rights. Every week we learn of a new reason why Site C should not proceed….” Chief Roland Willson, West Moberly First Nations

    In the coming weeks, the federal government will make decisions on permits necessary for continued construction of the Site C dam in north-eastern British Columbia.

    If the government rejects or puts these permits on hold, it would buy time for important legal challenges by First Nations and local landowners to be addressed.

    At stake:

    May 04, 2016

    In many ways, Canada waged war against Indigenous peoples through Law, and many of today’s laws reflect that intent. ... The full adoption and implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will not undo the War of Law, but it will begin to address that war’s legacies.

    Senator Murray Sinclair, Truth and Reconciliation Chair, April 2016

    The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a global human rights instrument setting out minimum standards for the “survival, dignity and well-being” of Indigenous peoples around the world.

    In its Calls to Action, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission named the UN Declaration as “the framework” for Canadians to come together to redress the terrible harms that have been inflicted on Indigenous peoples throughout Canada’s history.

    May 03, 2016

    by Alex Neve 
    Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada

    How is it that a government minister beat us to a perfect campaign slogan! 

    “The Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture will not be optional anymore for Canada.”  

    It has always been an unwieldy name for a United Nations treaty that deals with something so incredibly important: preventing torture around the world. How fitting and powerful therefore to hear Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion use those very words to make it clear that Canada is now going to get on board and join the Optional Protocol. His tremendous announcement, at an Amnesty International parliamentary reception co-hosted by 10 Members of Parliament and Senators, elicited immediate and sustained applause.

    May 03, 2016

    Human rights defenders, torture survivors, parliamentarians and youth activists celebrated a significant milestone following the announcement that Canada has committed to joining an important UN torture prevention treaty. Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion made the announcement in Ottawa as he accepted more than 50,000 Amnesty International petition signatures calling on Canada to help end torture around the world.

     

    “The news that Canada is readying to join the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture is a tremendous step forward. It is long overdue and will position Canada strongly in the global fight to prevent torture. This has been 13 years in the waiting. Now it is time to make it happen.”
    - Alex Neve, Secretary-General of Amnesty International Canada

     

    April 25, 2016

    The Legal Strategy Coalition on Violence Against Indigenous Women (LSC), a national coalition of individuals and civil society organizations, has supported the call for a national inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIW). Like other advocates, activists and community members, the LSC is deeply concerned that the inquiry be a meaningful one.

    LSC members have a breadth of knowledge and interdisciplinary expertise regarding the MMIW issue. Today, the LSC has released a statement on the importance of full provincial and territorial cooperation with the upcoming national inquiry.

    It is crucial that the role of provinces and territories and the extent of their participation in the upcoming national inquiry be clearly determined as soon as possible. The full participation and cooperation of all Canadian jurisdictions in the upcoming national inquiry is necessary in order to ensure meaningful outcomes.

    April 19, 2016

    The latest scientific study of the potential impacts of a large hydro-electric dam now under construction in Labrador once again underlines the profound failure of the federal and provincial governments to properly safeguard the human rights of Inuit hunters and fishers who rely on downstream waters for their subsistence, health, and culture.

    Construction of the Muskrat Falls dam is underway. As is the case with all large dams, the flooding will result in the formation of methylmercury as vegetation decomposes.

    Methylmercury is one of the most dangerous environmental contaminants. It  accumulates in the food chain, reaching higher and higher concentrations in top predators such as seals and large fish. Consumed by humans, methylmercury can lead to a wide range of debilitating health effects, including neurological degeneration, and cognitive impairment among infants and children.

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