Monday, May 08, 2006

A wasted opportunity

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is currently reviewing Canada's human rights record since 1998. And during a time period dominated by a Liberal majority government with relatively few fiscal concerns, the country seems to have conspicuously failed to move in the right direction:
A United Nations watchdog group has harshly criticized Canada for its failure to live up to its commitments under an international treaty that protects people's economic, social and cultural rights.

In a tough assessment, one of the committee's 18 independent experts noted that “some situations (in Canada) had actually got worse” since Canada's record was last scrutinized in 1998...

“Many of the issues our committee raised in 1993 and 1998 are unfortunately still live issues today,” said Ariranga Govindasamy Pillay, an expert from Mauritius. “Years later, the situation appears to be unchanged, and in some respects worse.”

“There is continuing homelessness and reliance on food banks, security of tenure is still not enjoyed by tenants, child tax benefits are still clawed back.”

“The situation of Aboriginal peoples, migrants and people with disabilities doesn't seem to be improving,” Mr. Pillay said.
About the best one can say for federal policy in the meantime is that a few of the problem areas are provincial rather than federal responsibilities...meaning that the blame extends beyond the federal government alone. But a few of the problems were plainly the Libs' responsibility, and were neglected during the time period when Chretien and Martin had the most fiscal flexibility. And based on the U.N.'s review, it's glaringly clear why Canadians shouldn't be satisfied with a repeat of the Libs' record.

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