Ken Neumann Statement for International Human Rights Day, December 10th, 2018.

Each year on December 10th, the United Steelworkers observe Human Rights Day. The day commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations. The recognition of human rights is at the core of Steelworker values and activism.

This year, along with recognizing the good work of our equality activists, both locally and nationally, I would like to highlight a concern for our work in human rights in the next year, and for years to come. In my message last year, I mentioned a 2016 census from Statistics Canada (StatsCan) addressing human rights offences against equality seeking groups. It is important to revisit this issue.

It is shocking this year that the 2017 StatsCan report shows a large increase of hate and religious crimes in this country. Nation-wide in 2017, the number of police-reported crimes was 47 per cent higher than the previous year. Significantly, most of these hate crimes were committed against Muslim, Jewish and Black populations.

It is equally upsetting that these crimes are increasing in major urban areas where the greatest diversity is found. The provinces with the most and the largest major urban areas in Canada are Ontario and Quebec. In Quebec, these crimes grew by 50 per cent, for a reported total of 489. In Ontario, the crimes grew by 67 per cent for a reported total of 1,023. While these are officially reported crimes, I cannot imagine the numbers should unreported crimes be included.

These crimes extend beyond race hatred and religious discrimination. 2017 saw crimes on the basis of sexual orientation increase by 16 per cent.

As a union committed to human rights, I call on Steelworkers to:

  • continue to lobby for equality legislation both in Canada and internationally
  • continue our strong presence in the labour movement in Canada and internationally
  • negotiate strong equality language in our collective bargaining agreements, particularly with global companies
  • extend our support for associations and social justice partners in the fight against hate crime

In solidarity,

Ken Neumann
National Director

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