Human Rights

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10 Things Canada's Human Rights Policy Should Include

Thus far, election discourse has been dominated by exchanges on the economy and related issues such as jobs, growth, taxes, and the like, and where the term "middle class" has become metaphor and message of that discourse. Accordingly, the Munk Debates on foreign policy are a welcome addition to the political discourse, particularly as foreign policy itself is not characterized as a salient issue for electoral purposes.
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The Economic Case Against Leg Room Being a 'Human Right'

I almost spit out my coffee the other morning when I stumbled upon this piece by a fellow named Christopher Elliott. In it, he argued that having enough room for your legs on an airplane should be a "human right." One has to be willfully ignorant to not understand that this type of regulation, if adopted, would raise the cost of airline tickets everywhere.
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Giving Women a Part in the Peace Process Promotes Lasting Security

The number of conflicts -- especially intra-state conflicts -- is on the rise worldwide, contributing to record numbers of forcibly displaced people in 2014. Many of these conflicts are marked by violent extremism and acts of gender-based violence and abuse. The practice and policy of war and security have traditionally been dominated by men. Women and girls are almost always excluded from the political processes that are essential for peace and security: between 1992 and 2011, less than four per cent of signatories to peace agreements and fewer than 10 per cent of negotiators at peace tables were women. Yet, there is solid evidence that women's participation in peace negotiations contributes to more lasting peace.
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In Response to Rentboy Bust, the Case for Decriminalizing Sex Work

As the proliferation of online escort services -- gay and straight alike -- suggests, Americans engage in escort services in considerable numbers. Moralism aside, what's the actual harm? We reviewed the available scientific evidence on HIV, other health issues, violence and human rights among sex workers, including among male sex workers -- and gained invaluable insights into the power of decriminalization to reduce harm.
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This Is What Being Hard of Hearing Is Like at the Movies

I am hard of hearing and rely on lipreading. Video can be difficult, for a variety of reasons, including camera angle, voice-overs, sound effects, accents, and animation. Every time captioning fails at the movies, I am reminded of my inability to participate in activities many Canadians take for granted. I feel belittled, squashed, unimportant.
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Sex Workers Rights Are Human Rights

Following over two years of consultations with sex workers and human rights experts in member countries globally, a leading human rights organization, Amnesty International, put forward a draft policy in support of decriminalization of sex work as critical to ensuring the human rights of all citizens. The policy recognizes decriminalization as a key measure for protecting the human rights of sex workers globally and will be discussed and voted on at the International Council Meeting to be held later this week in Dublin, Ireland.
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The Law Society of Upper Canada Is Attacking Charter Freedoms

The Law Society of Upper Canada -- now with the Court's approval -- won't recognize TWU's law degree solely because the person who earned that degree decided, while studying law, to join others in a religious community where people share a personal commitment to traditional marriage. Lawyers have the freedom to advocate for, and practice, their moral beliefs about sexuality. This reflects a basic respect for fundamental Charter freedoms. So why should it be any different for those seeking to enter the legal profession?
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The Law Society of Upper Canada Is Attacking Charter Freedoms

The Law Society of Upper Canada -- now with the Court's approval -- won't recognize TWU's law degree solely because the person who earned that degree decided, while studying law, to join others in a religious community where people share a personal commitment to traditional marriage. Lawyers have the freedom to advocate for, and practice, their moral beliefs about sexuality. This reflects a basic respect for fundamental Charter freedoms. So why should it be any different for those seeking to enter the legal profession?
ASSOCIATED PRESS

How Far Should We Go to Accommodate Religious Requests?

Last week, a woman travellingon a Porter flight from New York to Toronto was asked to move to another seat to accommodate an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man. The woman was very upset. She said that the man never looked at her nor spoke to her. It may be rare for Porter Airlines, but our public schools, like our airplanes, trains, busses, theatres and other public venues are facing a an increase in such requests.
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Why NGOs Are Relieved the UN Called Canada out on the Income Tax Act

Canada has received a rebuke from a United Nations treaty monitoring body for its lack of respect for human rights. The Human Rights Committee (HRC) released a lengthy list of issues it cited as concerning as part of its concluding observations on the country's review of civil and political rights. Included was an important reference to the federal government's efforts to silence human rights organizations and advocacy through the Income Tax Act -- a welcome expression of support for charities under audit.
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Trinity Western Grasps at Hypocritical Half-Truths

John Carpay's condemnation of the Ontario Superior Court alleges that 'half-truths' have been relied on to scuttle Trinity Western University's quest to establish a law school. Ironically, Mr. Carpay's own analysis is built upon factual and legal mischaracterizations. These are designed to stoke suspicions of a nonexistent anti-Christian bias among legal institutions and to undermine the crucial public policy considerations invoked by the Law Society of Upper Canada in denying TWU's accreditation. The dispute surrounding TWU is about the public interest obligations of law societies to promote equal access to the profession, not about meddling with university policies or religious doctrines.
Anastasia Lin

After I Won Miss World Canada My Father Was Threatened in China

My father was never so proud of me as when I was crowned Miss World Canada in May. It's an incredible honour to be able to represent my country on the world stage. To my father, who still lives in China, it was validation that all of his efforts to support me have paid off. Although access to information is restricted in China, news of my win spread quickly in my home province of Hunan, and my father was inundated with messages congratulating him and wishing me well. But things soon took a dark turn. Now, just a few weeks after I was crowned, my father is afraid to speak to me.
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My Refugee Journey Involves Gunshots, Homelessness and Hope

Over the following months in 2001, the violence continued in Burundi between the rebels and the government. My passion for my work diminished. I no longer felt like doing anything. I even stopped watching the news on TV, or even listening to it on my own radio station. Everything looked hopeless. In 2002, some Canadian journalists visited Burundi. If I were going to ask for help, it was now or never. Six months later, they invited me to visit Canada, and I jumped on the opportunity. I arrived in Canada with $60 in my pocket -- my mother's life savings.
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How Social Media Helps Human Rights

During the Arab Spring, social media usage in the Middle East skyrocketed. Social media has become a tool of empowerment, handing the reins over to the citizens. Over in Afghanistan, human rights activist Omaid Sharifi and IHRTP alumnus uses social media in all aspects of his work. Sharifi is a man of all trades, but focuses heavily on women's rights. Recently, he and a large group of civil society activists came together to organize a protest to condemn the recent increase in violence against women in Afghanistan
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Canada Must Take Action to Protect Human Rights in Bangladesh

Few media outlets have mentioned the abuses that minorities in Bangladesh have endured since the country won its independence from Pakistan in 1971. Discrimination is particularly brutal against the indigenous peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts region, who have suffered horrific human rights violations at the hands of Bangladeshi settlers and the military forces supporting them. Canada is an aid donor to Bangladesh and must take action to end the ongoing human rights violations against religious minorities and indigenous peoples.
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Bill C-51 Assumes Human Rights Can Be Trumped By National Security

The rushed passage of Bill C-51 through Parliament, the furthest-reaching national security reforms in Canada since 2001, continues. It is soon to be passed by the House of Commons and then head off to the Senate. And all signs are that the government intends to push it through the Senate as quickly as possible, with an eye to the Bill becoming law before the summer Parliamentary break. At its heart Bill C-51 grounds itself in the flawed notion that human rights have to give way when national security is on the line.
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The Mediterranean Has Become a Morgue for Migrants. Canada Must Help

The number of deaths have been mounting over the years. The International Organization of Migration estimates that somewhere in the range of 20,000 women, men and children have drowned in the Mediterranean between 2000 and 2014, while trying to reach safety and new lives in Europe. Canada can and should be central to international efforts to address the underlying crises in Syria, Eritrea and other countries, propelling the displacement that leads to the Mediterranean. This is not a crisis that Canada should simply observe and lament.
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The Children of Canada's Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Are Forgotten

The children of these women are almost forgotten. Our half-hearted national conversation on the ongoing racialized violence against stolen indigenous women barely acknowledges their existence. If there is even an estimate of the number of children affected, please let me know. And yet, the surviving children's loss is unimaginable. They lost mothers, sisters, aunts and cousins. You don't need to be a psychiatrist to understand that the grotesque violence aboriginal women suffer affects the mental integrity of the children they leave behind.
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Fighting Climate Change Is Fighting for Human Rights

Last week, the world observed Earth Hour. Across Canada people flipped off the lights in a symbolic gesture to support action against climate change. But some influential voices like Watt-Cloutier and Mary Robinson -- former prime minister of Ireland and United Nations High Commissioner -- suggest we're looking at climate change the wrong way. Climate change is not only an environmental issue, they say. It's also a human rights issue.