Wednesday, November 4, 2009

UN report critical of Canada's lack of attention to discrimination including racial profiling

A preliminary report compiled by Gay McDougall, the United Nation’s independent expert on minority issues, reveals that religious and ethnic minorities in Canada continue to experience discrimination in a number of key areas, including access to housing, employment, education, policing, justice and political participation.

McDougall spent 10 days touring Canada, meeting and speaking with minority groups about the obstacles they face in their everyday lives. McDougall concluded that although the federal and provincial governments have instituted “well-intentioned” policies, enforcement and implementation remain serious barriers to true inclusivity.

Key issues addressed in McDougall’s report include the failure of the federal, provincial and territorial governments to provide minority communities with equal access to housing, education, justice and political participation. McDougall also highlights the frustration that new immigrants feel when they are unable to use their foreign education credentials to obtain employment in their fields of expertise. Immigrant parents also reported concerns that school curricula do not accommodate different cultural backgrounds.

McDougall’s report also focused on alleged incidents of racial profiling and police brutality in a number of communities, including Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and Montreal North. Minorities in these neighbourhoods reported feelings of distrust towards the police and a general lack of faith in the justice system.

McDougall’s report, which will be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council, recommends that Canada refrain from using labels like “visible minorities” and instead seek to adopt terminology that will help reflect the vast diversity among minority groups and combat governmental discrimination.

While Canada portrays itself as one of the most multicultural nations in the world, it is evident from McDougall’s findings that it is time for Canadians to cast their glance inwards and consider what we can do to truly live up to our reputation as culturally conscious global citizens.

Posted by Claire Doughty (Law II)

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