By Rachel LaFortune
Many Canadians have heard of the Site C dam: a hydro-electric megaproject in northeast British Columbia that has been backed by successive federal and provincial governments despite its unlawful impact on Indigenous rights. What fewer people may know is that three years ago, in a hearing that received scant media attention, Department of Justice lawyers successfully argued that the federal Cabinet’s decision to sign off on Site C—one of the largest, most expensive, and most destructive energy projects in Canadian history—should be shielded from judicial scrutiny. It’s a story worth revisiting in light of recent revelations and allegations about how other high-stakes decisions balancing the law and corporate interests have reportedly been handled in the Trudeau Cabinet.
TREATY 1 TERRITORY, WINNIPEG, MB – On April 11, 2019, Indigenous women from northern Manitoba and northeastern BC will be hosting a panel discussion on the harmful social impacts of large-scale resource development on the health and wellbeing of Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people.
The public event is being held on the eve of a special hearing being conducted by the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. The one-day hearing in Winnipeg has been organized as part of the Committee’s study of Bill C-69, proposed federal impact assessment legislation for resource development projects. Amnesty International will be testifying before the Committee.
Troubling reports of gender-based violence in communities surrounding resource development projects in northern Manitoba and northeastern BC highlight why it is important to consider the experiences of Indigenous women and girls when planning large-scale resource development projects like hydroelectric dams.
Date: Thursday, April 11, 2019
Location: Ukrainian Labour Temple, 591 Pritchard Ave, Winnipeg, Manitoba
The US is not safe for all refugees. The Canadian government should suspend the US/Canada border pact and allow those in need of refugee protection to access it in Canada.
Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the US government, at the request of the Canadian government, is considering altering an agreement that would make it more likely that refugees seeking asylum in Canada would be returned to the United States. This week, the Canadian government also introduced a bill that includes provisions that would bar individuals from making a refugee claim in Canada if they have made a prior asylum claim in certain countries, particularly the United States.
The request to renegotiate concerns a possible expansion of the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) between the two countries, which currently applies only at official ports of entry along the U.S.-Canada border. It requires individuals who arrive in Canada or the US to request protection in the first country in which they arrive. There are only limited exceptions.
Proposed legislation crucial to reconciliation is being threatened by partisan stalling tactics in the Senate.
Conservative Senators yesterday prevented Bill C-262 being sent to Committee for review.
“This is a shameful moment for Canada,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “It’s profoundly troubling that a crucial opportunity to now move ahead with the urgent work of reconciliation could be jeopardized by Conservative Senators resorting to procedural dirty tricks.”
Passage of Bill C-262 would establish a legislative framework for future governments to work collaboratively with Indigenous peoples to interpret and apply the global human rights standards set out in the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
A Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability Press Release
Canadian Network on Corporate AccountabilityThe Government of Canada failed today to appoint an independent Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) with real powers to investigate abuses and redress the harm caused by Canadian companies operating abroad.
Canadian companies operating overseas have been associated with widespread and egregious human rights abuses including forced labour, rape and murder.
Fifteen months ago, the government announced that it would create an independent office with the power to investigate. Instead, it unveiled a powerless advisory post, little different from what has already existed for years. It is clear that Canada needs an ombudsperson to help prevent Canadian complicity in corporate abuse and help ensure Canadian mining and garment supply chains respect human rights.
An ombudsperson operates at arms-length from government and has the power to order those under investigation to produce documents and testimony under oath. The advisory position created today does neither.
In January 2018, the government of Canada committed to creating a Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise to investigate allegations of human rights abuses by Canadian extractives and garment sector enterprises. Today, it announced an Ombudsperson has been hired, however, without the necessary investigatory powers to do the job. In today's announcement, the government promised that those powers would be incorporated into the role after further study.
After15 months of delays, and after years of courageous testimony from human rights defenders about the terrible abuses they suffered in the context of Canadian mines, actions speak louder than words. We are deeply disappointed by today's announcement and vow to carry on Amnesty's campaign for a fully independent Ombudsperson with investigatory powers.
Today, Amnesty International released the organization’s 2019 Human Rights Agenda for Canada and called on all governments in the country to take a serious stance against human rights abuses, domestically and abroad. The report, Building Hope, Addressing Injustice, is being released with less than six months to go before the 2019 federal election, against an international backdrop of conflict, strife, and continued rise of political agendas fueling hate and demonization; and amidst a domestic context of growing divisive political rhetoric about refugees, violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people, systemic discrimination against racialized communities, and failure to uphold the land rights of Indigenous peoples.
Amnesty International appeared today before the Senate Human Rights Committee to urge government to take immediate steps to address sterilization of Indigenous women in Canada without their consent.
Amnesty International testified alongside Alisa Lombard, a lawyer leading a class-action lawsuit representing women who allege they were forcibly or coercively sterilized; Sandeep Prasad from Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights; and Karen Stote, a professor at Wilfrid Laurier University who has extensively studied the historic record on this issue in Canada.
On April 3rd, the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre (DEWC) in Vancouver released Red Women Rising: Indigenous Women Survivors in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, a report based on the lived experience, leadership, and expertise of Indigenous survivors, which “urgently shifts the lens from pathologizing poverty towards amplifying resistance to and healing from all forms of gendered colonial violence.”
Amnesty International had the privilege of speaking with three of the women involved in producing the report: Carol Martin, Priscillia Tait (Gitxsan/Wetsuweten), and Harsha Walia. Here’s what they shared with us.READ THE REPORT
What motivated you create this report?
Tomorrow, April 2, is the next crucial opportunity to advance the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples implementation Bill, private member’s Bill C-262, toward its eventual adoption into law.
Indigenous peoples’ organizations, human rights groups and faith communities have all called on Senators to support an anticipated vote to send Bill C-262 to Committee in preparation for its final adoption so it can receive Royal Assent before the House rises.
Following the tabling of a proposed bill on “secularism” (laïcité) in the Quebec legislature on March 28, Amnesty International is reminding the Quebec government that it must uphold its international human rights obligations toward all those living in the province.
“It’s the responsibility of the government to do everything possible to fight systemic discrimination towards marginalized groups,” said France-Isabelle Langlois, Executive Director of Amnesty International Canada’s Francophone Branch. “The government must ensure that Quebec remains an inclusive society that respects human rights.”
Amnesty International joins others here today in welcoming Vanessa Rodel and her daughter to Canada as refugees resettled through private sponsorship. It is a happy end to a search for safety that began when Ms. Rodel fled from the Philippines in 2002; and took an entirely unexpected turn in 2013 when, along with five other asylum seekers in Hong Kong, including two children, she was drawn into the effort to provide support and shelter to Edward Snowden. Mr. Snowden was, of course, being actively sought by US authorities for having publicly leaked documents showing the massive extent of US surveillance practices.
Ms. Rodel, her daughter and the other five individuals have been at risk in Hong Kong ever since that time. Joining with Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International approached the Canadian government nearly two years ago, in May 2017, urging that private sponsorship applications that been filed for their resettlement to Canada as refugees be approved.
TORONTO, March 25, 2019 /CNW Telbec/ - This evening a plane carrying Vanessa Rodel and her 7-year-old daughter Keana will land at Toronto's Pearson airport. It is the partial culmination of a saga that began in 2013 when Rodel, her daughter and five other asylum seekers sheltered Edward Snowden, at the time the most wanted man in the world.
Rodel's application to come to Canada as a privately sponsored refugee was filed in 2016 by non-profit For the Refugees. That application was finally approved by the Canadian government in January, but the decision was kept secret until now for security reasons. The other five refugees, whose applications were submitted at the same time, remain in limbo in Hong Kong as they wait for their approvals. These vulnerable refugees face documented threats of torture and death if returned to their home countries, according to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations.
Amnesty International welcomes today’s Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench decision that Omar Khadr’s sentence has been served. The decision gives Mr. Khadr, whose ordeal has spanned 17 years and three unanimous Canadian Supreme Court decisions in his favour, his long-awaited full freedom.
Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada noted: “The litany of serious human rights violations Mr. Khadr has endured since the beginning of this ordeal – particularly during 10 years of detention at Guantánamo Bay – include torture and ill-treatment, discrimination, arbitrary imprisonment, unfair trial, denial of consular rights and refusal to recognize his status as a child soldier.”