Harper government latest attack on human rights

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kim elliott kim elliott's picture
Harper government latest attack on human rights

I know it shouldn't, given everything we've witnessed this government do, yet it still boggles my mind. Here is the full media release:

"Harper government attacks human rights

Closure of CHRC offices will punish marginalized people


OTTAWA, March 25 /CNW Telbec/ - The Public Service Alliance of Canada condemns the Harper government's decision to close Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Halifax. The union maintains that the closure of the three offices will make it substantially harder for individuals from marginalized groups to launch human rights complaints.

The three offices slated for closure received 70 per cent of all signed complaints to the CHRC in 2008.

The union, which represents CHRC employees, says this latest attack will have a particular impact on racialized people and recent immigrants. In many cases, the closures will make it much more difficult to challenge both systemic abuses and individual instances of discrimination.

For John Gordon, National President of PSAC, the closures are indicative of a strategy by the Conservative government to destabilize human rights organizations and women's groups in Canada.

"When the Conservatives took power in 2006, one of their first moves was to abolish the Court Challenges Program and close Status of Women Canada offices across the country," Gordon said. "Women's groups were denied government funding if they engaged in research or advocacy work, and equality-seeking groups lost the ability to fund Charter of Rights challenges. The government has also cancelled funding to notable NGOs such as KAIROS, and appointed ultra-conservative partisan board members to Rights & Democracy - manufacturing a massive crisis within the organization. The closure of CHRC offices is another example of this outrageous trend."

Canadians living in British Columbia, Ontario and the Atlantic provinces will no longer have access to walk-in or telephone services at a CHRC office even remotely close to where they live. The urban centres where the CHRC offices are being closed represent a high percentage of racialized people. In fact, 60 per cent of all racialized people in Canada live in Vancouver, Toronto and Halifax.

In B.C., residents will no longer have access to a human rights commission of any kind, as the B.C. Human Rights Commission was dismantled by the provincial government five years ago.

PSAC sees the closures of the CHRC offices as part of a broader trend by the Harper government toward self-regulation - something that puts both public safety and human rights into question. By severely hampering the Canadian Human Rights Commission's ability to adequately deal with complaints throughout the process, the federal government is relying on employers to voluntarily meet employment equity obligations and address discrimination. But with no mechanisms for enforcement, the CHRC's mandate will be reduced to mere suggestions.

"PSAC will fight the closures of the Canadian Human Rights Commission offices and continue to fight the Harper government's attacks on democracy and human rights," said Gordon."


Issues Pages: 

Let me guess.  The offices in whitebread small towns are still open, right?


Michelle, small towns don't get many federal offices, period.  I'm guessing that it's Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City left, if that.


Oh I know.  I'm just saying - they made sure to close offices in the cities with the largest non-white immigrant communities in the country.  I'm pretty sure that wasn't a coincidence.

It's amazing to me that they're being so open and blatant with their racism.


This is some red meat being tossed to their redneck base, after the business with Macleans last year.  The timing, coinciding as it does with the visit of a certain speaker from down south and the attendant controversy (I'm trying to maintain my perfect record of not mentioning her name at all), was actually really well conceived from their perspective, as almost no-one in the mainstream media will think this is worth covering.  It also completely fits with Paul Wells' hypothesis this past week about their "hard right turn".

I do wonder what it's going to take to get the Liberals angry enough to join in on a move to turf the Conservatives, though.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Didn't see this on the news tonight.


It would probably take the Liberals agreeing on a single issue. I am sure there are Liberals who agree with this move. 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

CBC reports: Conservative ridings benefit from Service Canada closures

Opposition ridings hardest hit: opposition, union


Other pockets of the country will see jobs moving from opposition ridings to Conservative ones as well:

  • In Quebec at least three processing centres in NDP ridings (Sept-Îles, Rimouski and New Richmond) are seeing their jobs transferred to the riding of Megantic L'Erable - which belongs to Industry Minister Christian Paradis.
  • And, several EI processing centres that will remain standing in Quebec are located in ridings that up until last May were also Conservative: for example in Quebec City and the Saguenay.
  • In Ontario, the Kingston processing centre in a staunchly Liberal riding is closing. That's despite the fact it had seen an infusion of resources in recent years to make it the central processing centre for mail from the northeast region of Ontario. Under the centralization plan, those mail processing services will now be shut down and moved to the Conservative riding held by MP Jay Aspen in North Bay.


I've asked my NDP MP to comment on this - Sept-Iles is our regional office covering a huge area. Closing this office will cause major headaches here. A friend of mine out west has experienced a closure of an office there, and the re-located office, when you call the 1-800 number, can put you on hold for an hour. Surprised


When I saw the title of this post, I thought it would be about gay marriage rights. I should of known that that was yesterday's issue that the Cons promised not to touch during the election campaign. I wonder what is tomorrow's issue.