Communiqué de la Confédération des syndicats nationaux (Conférence de Durban, Genève Suisse, du 20 au 24 avril 2009)
La Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), en tant qu’organisation syndicale, s’est toujours intéressée aux grands débats sociaux. Tant sur le plan de son action que de son idéologie, elle vise à assurer la promotion et l’avancement des droits fondamentaux en plaçant la personne humaine au premier rang de ses préoccupations. C’est donc avec beaucoup d’intérêt qu’elle a participé à la conférence de Durban qui s’est déroulée à Genève, en Suisse du 20 au 24 avril 2009, en tant que membre de la Confédération syndicale internationale (CSI), comme bon nombre d’organisations syndicales à travers le monde.
Cette conférence, qui se veut une évaluation des progrès réalisés depuis la dernière Conférence mondiale contre le racisme, la discrimination raciale, la xénophobie et l’intolérance qui y est associée tenue à Durban en Afrique du Sud en 2001, s’est révélée un véritable succès dans la mesure où elle a permis à la communauté internationale d’avoir en sa disposition des outils concrets lui permettant de lutter contre le racisme sous toutes ses formes
A l’ère de la mondialisation caractérisée par une forte interrelation entre les nations, les races et les individus de cultures différentes, aucun État ou gouvernement ne peut prétendre être à l’abri du racisme. En ce sens, nous regrettons l’absence du gouvernement canadien signifiant son refus de participer aux importants débats tenus à cette conférence. La politique de la chaise vide ne peut être une option pour le Canada quand il s’agit de défendre les droits fondamentaux des êtres humains. La lutte contre le racisme, la discrimination raciale, la xénophobie et l’intolérance qui y est associée doit être une préoccupation de toutes et de tous.
Néanmoins, cet engagement ferme que vient de prendre la communauté internationale renforce la position de la Confédération des syndicats nationaux, en tant qu’organisation syndicale, dans la lutte de tous les jours qu’elle mène dans les milieux de travail contre toutes sortes de discrimination ou exclusion fondées sur la race, la couleur, le sexe, l’orientation sexuelle, la religion et autres. Ce message clair de la communauté internationale invite l’ensemble des organisations syndicales à travers le monde à intensifier leurs interventions afin de permettre aux travailleuses et travailleurs d’avoir accès à un travail décent ainsi qu’à de meilleures conditions de vie.
Sans aucun doute, la CSN fera de la déclaration et du programme d’action de Durban un outil pratique et efficace qu’elle utilisera dans ses actions visant à forcer les gouvernements national, provincial et local à se donner des cibles précises et réelles afin d’éradiquer le racisme au sein de notre société. La lutte contre la discrimination est légitime. Elle vise le respect de l’égalité, lequel constitue un des fondements de la Charte des droits et libertés de la personne du Québec.
Jean Dalcé CSN
Friday, April 24, 2009
JOINT STATEMENT OF
THE AFRICAN CANADIAN LEGAL CLINIC
THE CANADIAN ARAB FEDERATION
THE CANADIAN LABOUR CONGRESS
THE CHARTER OF HUMAN RESPONSIBILITIES
THE COUNCIL OF AGENGIES SERVING SOUTH ASIANS AND
INDEPENDENT JEWISH VOICES
Durban Review Conference
April 20-24 2009, Geneva
This is a joint statement on behalf of African Canadian Legal Clinic, Canadian Arab Federation, Canadian Labour Congress, Charter of Human Responsibilities (Canada), Council of Agencies Serving South Asians, and Independent Jewish Voices (Canada).
We represent a broad and diverse cross section of racialized and ethnic communities from Canadian civil society, committed to combating racism.
We denounce the failure of our government to participate in the Durban Review Conference, a process of critical importance to victims of racism the world over. As civil society organizations, we are here to affirm our commitment to this Review Conference, which is intended to assess the progress UN member nations have made to implement the DDPA.
As Canadian civil society organizations we are deeply dismayed with our government’s decision to withdraw from the conference, long before even a single substantive paragraph had been written. Canada’s refusal to participate in the UN process is a demonstration of its failure to acknowledge the persistence of racism and state responsibility to address it.
The governments which have chosen not to participate have maligned the Durban process itself by describing it as anti-Semitic. While the struggle against anti-Semitism is important, in this instance it is being used as a pretext for ignoring all other issues before this critical conference. We are witnessing a cynical alliance among Western nations to avoid addressing the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, the human rights of Palestinian people, and the expropriation of the land and resources of indigenous peoples across the world.
As Canadian civil society, we know that racism is a pernicious reality faced in our workplaces and communities on a daily basis by Aboriginal peoples, African Canadians, Arabs and Muslims and racialized communities as well as racialized immigrants, refugees and migrants.
What binds these communities are disproportionate levels of poverty, lack of access to decent work, education, housing and healthcare -- all colour-coded inequalities that are on the rise in Canada. With economic conditions continuing to deteriorate, these marginalized communities will continue to suffer disproportionately.
Governments have withdrawn from this Conference in order to avoid addressing these fundamental human rights issues. We are here to demand these rights be actively respected and promoted. Their withdrawal clearly indicates lack of commitment and refusal to address the growing problem in their countries and around the world.
The situation of racialized and indigenous populations in Canada has worsened since 2001, with no little or no comprehensive government remedial action. Our Canadian government would have received a failing grade, had it chosen to participate.
We join in solidarity with other racialized and colonized communities all over the world. With or without our government, Canadian civil society will continue to fight to eliminate racism everywhere.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Photos of the prep-meeting of the canadians meeting the UN's Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights
List of the Civil Society participants meeting with the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights.
African Canadian legal Clinic
• Margaret Parsons
• Marie Chen
Canadian Arab Federation
• Mohamed Boudjenane
Canadian Council of Chruches
• Hazel Campagne
Canadian Labour Congress(CLC)
• Hassan Yussef
• Karl Flecker
Canadian Union of Public Employees(CUPE)
• Brian Barron
• Yolanda McLean
• Harminder Magon
Canadian United Post Workers (CUPW)
• Fred Turner
• Benita Raponi
• Irwin Nanda
Public Service Alliance of Canada(PSAC)/Alliance de la Fonction Publique du Canada.(AFPC)
• Seema Lamba
• Danielle Dubuc
Confédération des Syndicats Nationaux(CSN)
• Jean Dalcé
Council of Agencies Serving South Asians
• Neethan Shan
Independent Jewish Voices
• Fabienne Presenty
• Sid Shnaid &Diana Ralph
Absent: Terry Downey (Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL))
Today, I stood at the Tram station in Geneva waiting to board the number 15 that would take me to my destination the Durban Review Conference. I shared my ride with Sisters and Brothers from the world community. I could feel the excitement and anticipation mounting as the tram approached the United Nations stop.
Many discussions were occurring all around me about the past days events and what was waiting for today. As a member of the CLC delegation representing Canada I have quickly become accustomed to expect the unexpected by my comrades staying at the IBIS Hotel here in Switzerland. They have lead me on adventures that have concluded in many laughs and many miles to contemplate the plight of the Human Rights Community as we trekked the roadways of Geneva having got off the bus way to soon, and waving to the buses carrying other activist to the same destination.
When you think about the United Nations, you think a little about security. Well, I can tell you they ‘live’ security at the UN. Search after search started me questioning whether I would reach the General Assembly or any event for that matter. The vast size of the facility alone is quite intimidating for a prairie boy to fathom, let alone the huge number of police and security. My dad always said there’d be days like this; I just didn’t know I would be across the world from my home.
Well, I made it into the main building and wandering quite hopelessly around as delegates and diplomats race quite confidently to their destination. It is very difficult to be in a place of worldly thinkers and problem solvers and not look dumb as you follow people going in the opposite direction to where you need to get to. However, I rely again on that good old prairie common sense, if questioned about being in the wrong place I simply answer “I meant to do that”. So far so good!
After attending the NGO meeting I was able to meet with a few familiar faces purely by accident, no doubt, as again I was racing to nowhere trying to get my United Nations bearings. I spotted the rest of the CLC delegation and quite confidently marched up to them, although I was quite exhausted as I had trekked yet again many needless kilometers and the day was just beginning. After a short meeting with my comrades it was off again to start the business of combating racism.
Brother Karl had asked me to make contact with Kenneth Deer from the ICT task force. Well, the Great Creator must have been watching out for me as I nearly bowled him over as I left Salle 17. After a brief chat he informed me that he was the moderator for the session on “The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Contributing to the realization of the DDPA”.
The session was really eye opening for me for starters as I bumped into the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-Wah Kang with a quick apology and was off again. I am still suffering from jet lag combined with an inner ear inflammation which shuts my balance down for short bursts without warning. I quickly and embarrassingly found a seat and listened attentively to the 4 panelists from around the world. As each speaker shared and spoke about their experiences and the international challenge, it was becoming quite evident that in spite of the many committed expert activists challenging racism it has not been diminished in its capacity to craft influence on the world forum yet today. As each panelist shared their views and experience it was apparent that the world has become increasing intolerant to the acts of racial discrimination and racism of today. The framework of the DDPA must play a role in the fight against this type of behavior. As well, it was suggested that perhaps it’s an opportunity for activists to evolve in strategies. The notion was suggested by Catherine Odimba that parallelism of action with the DD and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples could play a role.
Perhaps what was most intriguing of the event for me was Tom Calma from Australia who spoke of the striking similar circumstances of Aboriginals in his country and First Nations Peoples in Canada. He spoke of the potential to reverse legislation for the politicians to recognize and be accountable for the past mistakes that have been made.
It has been a wonderful day as I have met with a Mohawk man from Kanawake , who through our brief yet intense discussion, reinforced my belief that Indigenous People across the world hunger for equality and have grown impatient with the lack of action. That the challenge to equality, is in fact, not race based as others would have us believe.
It is quite late as I sit and compose this message in the surrounding area by the hotel; someone is playing a piano. It made me think of music back home and the songs of Bob Dylan resonated in my mind. Dylan wrote a song many years ago titled something like ”The Times are changing”. I believe this was to prepare populations of the impending evolutionary changes coming. Well, Mr. Dylan, it appears those times may be changing. However, based on what I have experienced to date at the Durban Review Conference, the song remains the same with regard to Human Rights.
Greetings from the First Peoples of Canada Deputy High Commissioner Kyung-wha Kang.
My name is Brian Barron and I am from the Ojibway Nation Treaty 1 of Canada Turtle Island, a member of the Canadian Labour Congress delegation, and CUPE member. I bring forward specific concerns of the lack of accountability and action from our elected officials of Canada.
First Nations poverty is extreme and epidemic in remote communities of the north and south, alarmingly high rate of unsafe housing and also lack of inhabitable housing. Far too many communities exist without safe potable water creating unsafe drinking water complications for the First Peoples in poor health; our government is eroding the pledge to provide education opportunities diminishing the future of our Peoples to compete for jobs.
I seek guidance and support as a member of the First Peoples of Canada who now have reached 1 million in our country. Coming to Geneva I had hopes to learn lessons that would help our Elders, Leaders address the compromised state our peoples are enduring. Poverty is crippling to our people in the north and south. Poverty directly affects 60% of Aboriginal children, yet nearly 50% of First Peoples live in Cities with incomes lower than other Canadians. The aging population of First Peoples are not even a consideration at this juncture as current daily living conditions remain at the forefront. First Peoples population has increased 45% over a decade making it one of the fastest growing human resources yet unemployment for men is 21% and 17% for women.
Housing in the north is in dire straits with this Fast growing population families are forced to live together with as many as 5 families living in a dwelling built to safely house 1 family, due to the neglect and lack of attention by our government.
Over 100 communities live with a boil water order; sickness and poor health is a by-product of lack of safe water for hygiene as well to use for consumption. Again this overlap of non recognition and lack of attention has placed our people in a position of disadvantage.
Elected leaders are seeking not to honour the promise of education in exchange for treaties signed by our ancestors. Elders and Chiefs had the foresight to look to the future and trusted Canada would honour their pledge.
There are simply no schools or schools, in such a sad state that they are unusable due to our harsh climate as well unsafe due to mold infestation.
We speak of solutions as if solutions were over; solutions are taking place every moment of our lives. Canada must act now as time is running out for many as suicide rates are high.
Negativity must not be the catalyst for lessons that our youth must endure, the future should hold promise and opportunity.
As I listened to a representative from Australia I heard of the sincere recognition and accountability by their government i could only ponder my governments lack of accountability and responsibility. Someone must tell Canada to listen to the people as it appears they have decided to not participate.
For The CLC delegation at the Durban review Conference
The Diversity Vice-President Representing Aboriginals for the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
A group of Canadian civil society organizations including the CLC met with Ms. Kyung- wha Kang, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights for a brief meeting this morning.
We had met the night before to discuss the agenda items for this meeting. There was consensus that we wanted to support the work of the High Commissioner`s office and let her know that we did not agree with our government`s decision to withdraw from the preparatory meetings and the actual conference itself.
Knowing that our time would be brief with the Deputy High Commissioner, we prepared an agenda on issues that we wanted to highlight. Again, there was consensus on the topics which included: introduction of civil society in Canada; role of the High Commissioner in the monitoring and implementation of the DDPA and the DRC Outcome document; post Durban mechanism and the current situation in Canada.
At the meeting, our diverse civil society delegation were able to discuss anti-terrorism legislation and the impact on racialized communities; the impact of political bias and consequent decisions to silence and cut funding of community organizations such as Canadian Arab Federation; and the situation of First Nations, African Canadians, migrants, racialized immigrants and other racialized communities. Our delegation were able to provide specific examples of racism experienced by these communities including the racialization of poverty, impact of discriminatory governmental policies such as the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, and lack of political action on issues of housing, employment, education and access to social services. Lastly, in response to the criticism of the Conference, the Independent Jewish Voices expressed their support for the conference as Jewish people.
The Deputy High Commissioner was receptive to our information and emphasized the importance continuing this work back home. She clearly indicated that her Office would continue to push forward the fight against racism. She noted that it was the NGO`s that pushed for this review conference and that they play an important role in ensuring the DDPA was not forgotten. In closing, we noted that it was important for civil society to work closely with her office to ensure that government`s are accountable for their progress in eliminating racism.
Overall this meeting was a successful in conveying our message that the Canadian government would have received a failing mark under the DDPA or the Conference Review Outcome document. There was still much racism that our government still refuses to address.
It felt a little bit like lining up at Tim Hortons, waiting in anticipation for that jolt of morning java.
Early this morning some 20 Canadians representing a range of civil society groups who are here at the Durban Review Conference entered from different sides of the massive UN building.
Everyone was very focused, but not on getting a Tim’s coffee. We were looking for the correct pathway in the maze known as Building A that would take us to the 6th floor.
We had a meeting with the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Kyung-wha Kang.
We figured, just because Canada has failed to send an official delegation to this important conference, should not hold us back from going to the top and telling the High Commissioners Office what we know to be happening in the struggle to eliminate racism and discrimination.
Our crew was warmly greeted by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Our objective, given Canada’s official absence, was to share a few cases of the persistence of racism and discrimination in Canada.
Our crew filled a long boardroom table with representatives from the African Legal Clinic, Canadian Arab Federation, Canadian Council of Churches, Canadian Labour Congress, Council of Agencies Serving South Asians, and Independent Jewish Voices.
Margaret Parsons, from ALC outlined civil society groups came together from around the world to participate in workshops before the DRC began. She noted these events were useful and enriching but also difficult due to a shortage of resources and official connection to the DRC.
It was tough, because part of a strategy to try and tank this conference by colonial nations was to withhold thier funding obligations. Had member nations provided their obligatory funding to ensure comprehensive civil society participation the difficulties could have been overcome.
Member nations that opposed this conference either withheld or provided their funding commitments at the last possible minute, thus making organizing efforts for the victims of racism to be present and fully engaged in the process extra ordinarily difficult.
The High Commissioner herself had originally stated this fact to a briefing of all NGO’s who are here just yesterday. Chalk up yet another way to quash the efforts of civil society to contribute to eliminate racism.
After Margaret spoke, members from our crew gave examples of how racism persists in real terms in Canada.
Brian Barron, who is part of our delegation and from CUPE’s Aboriginal Senate, spoke about the situation for aboriginal communities in Canada.
His inputs are also on this blog. See Aboriginal Realities shared with UN High Commission
On behalf of the Congress I noted that all of us are struggling to resist government policies and programs that are embedding systemic racism in the workplace and social fabric.
For example, Canada has joined too many other OECD countries in changing their immigration policies to favour temporary vs. permanent residents. As of 2008, for example the number of migrant workers exceeded 250,000 while the number of permanent resident’s barely topped 240,000.
The result of a series of policy shift creates a disposable and largely racialized workforce. Close to 40% of migrant workers coming to Canada are from countries that are predominantly racialized.
These workers endure inadequate workplace protections, face fraud at the hands of unscrupulous employers/labour brokers and some are victims of human trafficking.
Others simply die on the job like 27 year old Chinese scaffolder, Liu Hongliang and 33 year old electrical engineer Ge Genbao.
Both were killed and 4 others injured in April 2007, when the roof of a massive oil container they were working on collapsed on a CNR /Horizon tar sands project.
Just this week and after two years, the Province of Alberta finally announced the company was now facing 53 charges under the provinces occupational health and safety Act.
The charges describe a situtaion where workers --in this case migrant workers from China, are placed in an unsafe workplace. I wonder if the migrant workers families will ever see justice….
We pointed out that migrant workers and newcomers without status are often trapped in vulnerable relationships with employers. Now that our economy is tanking, we are witnessing large and targeted deportations of migrant workers.
According to a post in the Bullet the very recent workplace raids of April 2-3, 2009 resulted in the arrest of nearly 100 refugee claimants, live-in caregivers, temporary workers and non-status people who have fallen outside of the strict and official compliance with immigration regulations.
41 of the nearly 100 arrested were tricked into signing waivers that removed their right to a hearing and a chance at protection from deportation. They were promised a quick return to Canada and deported on Sunday, 19 April.
At last count, 29 had been removed and many more were awaiting travel documents. It is extremely doubtful these migrants will ever be allowed back into Canada. The last time pressure tactics on this scale were used was during Project Thread in 2003 when 23 Pakistani men were picked up on terrorism charges that were never laid and most were swiftly deported.
That migrant workers are racialized and so easily disposed of, stands as very current example of why Canada would fail the test this UN Review conference is posing for it member nations.
We begin to talk about how we can work with the UN High Commissioner’s Office to hold Canada accountable.
The conference is winding down now, as is our meeting. The Deputy High Commissioner points out the UN office will be following up with those countries –ours included that chose not to participate and will be urging them to get them back to the table.
We agree to work on this project together.
Likely it will take more than the jolt a cup of coffee provides, in this case we will have to be the sharp of the stick to make things happen back home. So what else is new for activists?