Monday, June 13, 2016

Canada must ratify the United Nations CRPD Optional Protocol

New York will be hosting many international delegates at the United Nations Headquarters for the CRPD meetings from June 14th to 16th.
I have been quite vocal on Twitter with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Cabinet Minister Carla Qualtrough in suggesting that Canada should ratify the Optional Protocol, please allow me to explain why.

The late Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau brought us the Constitution Act 1982, which included the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Unfortunately, it appears that section 15 of the Charter, which forbids disability discrimination since 1982, isn't taken very seriously judging by the thousands of human rights complaints that have been received by our human rights commissions and tribunals nationwide.
It's important to understand that no other Canadian legislation trumps the CCRF yet the photo above identifies 3,234 disability-related complaints to the Canadian Human Rights Commission for the 2009-2014 time frame. It seems quite evident to me that section 15 of the CCRF needs to be strengthened and I believe that one way to accomplish this would be for Canada to ratify the Optional Protocol of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Canada ratified the CRPD in 2010 but unfortunately didn't ratify the Optional Protocol, which would ensure a complaints process for any individual or group who would wish to have the CRPD Committee hear their CRPD concerns from Canada.

It's my personal opinion that combining section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the CRPD Optional Protocol would bring a level of international accountability to Canada's human rights that would help to ensure the fundamental rights of millions of Canadians with disabilities, far more than the proposed Canadians with Disabilities Act (which will take years and millions of dollars to bring into law whereas everything is already in effect at the UN).

So what will happen in New York from June 14th to 16th during the CRPD meetings? I'm not sure yet but I sure hope that Canada will announce the ratification of the Optional Protocol in order for our nation to move forward with full inclusion of all its citizens. "The measure of any nation is how it cares for its most vulnerable" and its various other paraphrasing brings awareness that Canada can and should do far better for its citizens with disabilities. I honestly feel that ratifying the Optional Protocol would be a clear example of how to move forward in a concrete manner, with the guidance and assistance from the United Nations.

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