'Racism Still Exists In Canada,' Says Un Special Rapporteur
M. Diène made the comments as he wrapped up his two-week tour of fives centres in Canada during which he met with all levels of government in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan, and received over 200 submissions from civil society on all aspects of racism in Canada.
'I have been quite impressed with the calibre of the presentations,' commented M. Diène. 'Not only were the incidents of racism well-documented but the discussions also have been very informative and the level of emotion with which the communities made their points was quite remarkable'
He noted that while the institutions such as the human rights commissions exist, they operate at different levels of effectiveness because there is no national strategy. He also observed that the government should listen to and dialogue more with communities because it appears there is a serious lack of knowledge about the impact of laws and policies.
Over the course of his tour, the Special Rapporteur heard presentations on the conditions of Aboriginals on reserves and in urban communities, anti-Black racism, the impact of the demolition of Africville, the post September 11th climate for Muslims, the phenomenon of racial profiling and its impact on racialized groups, antisemitism, hate and the Chinese head tax, , among other manifestations of racism and racial discrimination.
M. Diène who began his visit on September 15th in Ottawa, stopped in Montreal, Halifax, Regina and Toronto. The Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF ), which coordinated the civil society portion of the tour, also provided access for representatives from British Colombia, Alberta, Manitoba and New Brunswick. As the UN Special Rapporteur on racism, his mandate includes examining "all incidents which are the manifestation of contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance." He will also report on government measures to overcome such manifestations.
'This has been an extraordinary experience for us at the Foundation', said Pat Case, the Chair CRRF. 'Being asked by the Special Rapporteur's office to act as interlocutor is certainly an honour for the CRRF. It has also allowed the Foundation the opportunity to hear in greater detail and context about racism at the local level.'
'It has certainly been a challenging and energizing task for the staff of the Foundation to ensure an inclusive and balanced program across the country,' added Dr. Karen Mock, executive director of
the CRRF. 'It definitely would not have been as successful without the enormous cooperation of the many organizations that came together to coordinate the local presentations. This is certainly a model of cooperation that we'd like to build on as we work towards assisting to implement the Rapporteur's recommendations when Canada receives them.'
M. Diène, who moves on to Colombia next week, is expected to present his findings to the UN Commission on Human Rights in March 2004.