UN Committee Asks If Canada Can Lead with Progressive Legislation in Light of US Anti-Immigration Views
Whether it's fair or not, Canada’s global reputation often draws comparisons and contrasts to our neighbours in the United States. While Canada continues to work towards inclusive policies and attitudes, which are lately often at odds with those of our southern neighbour, a lot of work remains to be done on our side of the border. Despite general goodwill for newcomers to Canada, and refugee law offices which promote acceptance and work at helping those who need it find safety and a new home, numerous challenges and issues remain.
Even with an immigration-friendly government, discrimination and prejudice still exist. Further, Canada’s own history of colonization and systemic racism, which persists to this day, requires extensive change.
UN Reviewing Racial Discrimination in Canada
The United Nations (UN) Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) reviews Canada’s record of racial discrimination and compliance with the UN Human Rights Treaty every five years. Earlier this month, the Canadian delegation faced two days of questioning by the UN Committee in Geneva. Pressing topics included:
- Violence against Indigenous women;
- The over-representation of minority groups (especially Indigenous people) in Canadian prisons; and
- The exploitation of migrant seasonal workers with no pathway to permanent residency in Canada.
The UN committee asked Canadian delegates how the country plans to rectify these issues. Gay McDougall, the US member of the committee, pressed further and asked, in light of current anti-immigration policies and racial discrimination in the US, if Canada is able to separate itself, move forward, and lead the way with more progressive legislation to eliminate systemic racism. It is a good question.
Opportunity for Canada
Canada still has a long way to go to rectify the racial discrimination present in our country. That being said, we do have a chance to move forward. It is important that Prime Minister Trudeau listen to the UN and meet Canada’s obligations to eliminate the systemic racism (especially against Indigenous peoples) that continues to hold Canada back from being the truly progressive nation we are capable of being.
If Canada wants to truly differentiate itself from the US, especially at this time when discrimination, hate, and anti-immigration sentiments are at the forefront of current events, then it needs to lead the way with progressive legislation moving forward.