Canada on the UN Human Rights Watchlist? Time to Go
So does the UN want Canada around or not?
It’s hard to say. But it seems that every single day, the United Nations is determined to give Canada another reason to leave. Another day, another reason. This time, it’s more unbelievable than anything before. Canada, it seems, has been added to the UN’s human rights watch list.
What has Canada done to justify this? Apparently, it all has to do with the Quebec student protests, and the “controversial” Bill 78, the special law the Quebec National Assembly passed to help police deal with the increasingly-violent protests. The bill requires – get this – that protesters not wear masks while protesting, and that student leaders notify police when and where any protest featuring more than 50 people will take place. The bill provides for hefty fines for anyone – individual or organization – that violates this law.
Considering that Quebec student leaders have openly boasted about the thousands-plus size of many of their protest marches, and the number of them that have turned violent thanks to the participation of groups like the Black Bloc, the movement has simultaneously become a victim of its own success, and of its own failures.
Among the violent outbursts at these protests have included store windows being smashed, students being pulled from their classrooms, and police being attacked with Molotov cocktails. Apparently, none of this seems particularly alarming to UN Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay. What is alarming to Pillay? That the Quebec government would do anything to put a stop to it.
“Moves to restrict freedom of assembly continue to alarm me, as is the case in the province of Quebec in Canada in the context of students’ protests,” Pillay is to tell a meeting of the UN Human Rights council. “And during this serious economic and financial crisis, we must all be highly sensitive to the possible negative repercussions on the human rights of individuals. Austerity policies have led to drastic budget cuts, which have particularly and disproportionately affected the most vulnerable, such as persons with disabilities. Governments must ensure the protection of the most vulnerable as a high priority when seeking responses to this economic and financial crisis.”
Without Bill 78, Quebec police would have absolutely no chance to avert the violence that have seeped into the Quebec student protesters – including at the governing Quebec Liberal Party’s convention last month.
And without the tuition hikes, Quebec would have absolutely no chance to maintain post-secondary education at all. Even after the increases, Quebec will still enjoy the second-lowest PSE tuition in all of Canada, far, far lower than in the provinces that actually pay for them to keep their tuition that low via equalization payments. This, naturally, introduces a very large dose of domestic politics driving Quebec’s necessary shift toward austerity – and the UN seems to think they’re entitled to stick their nose into this, too.
Most people would think that the UN Human Rights committee would have more important things to worry about than a bunch of spoiled Quebec students being told that they should call ahead the next time they want to appropriate Quebec’s streets for hours on end. Unless the actual goal of the UN is to annoy Canada so much that we decide to leave.
It’s becoming more and more clear that it just might be time for Canada to do just that: depart the UN, and take the hundreds of millions of dollars annually wasted there with us.
Patrick Ross is a Contributing Writer for The Propagandist