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May 9th, 2023

New Democrats support bid for UNHRC seat, calls on Liberals to live up to their human rights obligations in Canada and Internationally first

NDP critic for foreign affairs, Heather McPherson (Edmonton Strathcona), made the following statement:

“New Democrats support Canada’s bid for a seat at the United Nations Human Rights Council. We have always believed that Canada must play a stronger role in the promotion of human rights.
However, we are concerned that Canada’s record on human rights is not what it should be.
While we welcome today’s focus on global Indigenous rights, Canada is not a global role model. The colonial genocide against Indigenous peoples in this country remains in the Liberal government’s policies and practices. Indigenous people still need to heal from intergenerational trauma, and sadly are forced to fight the Liberal government to deliver meaningful investments in clean drinking water and suitable housing that should be considered fundamental human rights. The overrepresentation of Indigenous people in our criminal justice system, the overwhelming overrepresentation of violence Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people continue to face experience stand as clear and unacceptable examples of the government’s ongoing failure to uphold the human rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada, which is founded on Indigenous people’s lands. New Democrats will continue to push the Liberals to do better and to uphold the spirit and implementation of The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in all government laws and policies.
Unfortunately, Canada’s international human rights record is not much better. The Liberals continue to send arms to human rights abusers like Saudi Arabia, in violation of our commitments under the Arms Trade Treaty. Canada has been silent on human rights abuses tied to our extractive sector’s operations in the Global South. And Canada’s one-sided and unhelpful approach to Israel/Palestine needs to change if we want the world to believe we are committed to international law and human rights.
We are also concerned that the Liberal cuts to Official Development Assistance – a 15 per cent decrease to an already low aid budget – will harm Canada’s chances at a seat and undermine Canada’s commitments to women human rights defenders.
Canada should have a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council. But if we truly believe in human rights, we must work for the human rights of all people. Canada needs to do the hard work to prove its feminist foreign policy is fit for purpose, not just for show.”