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Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination considers the report of Canada

Committee on the Elimination
of Racial Discrimination

15 August 2017

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today concluded its consideration of the combined twenty-first to twenty-third periodic report of Canada on its implementation of the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Presenting the report, Jenifer Aitken, Assistant Deputy Minister of Strategic Policy, Planning and Corporate Affairs of Canada, explained that Canada’s federal system, consisting of 10 provinces and three territories, was a successful governance model well suited to the diversity of the country’s population and its size.  All jurisdictions shared common values of respect for diversity, human rights and the rule of law, and all had responsibilities to counter racial discrimination.  The current Government had made reconciliation with indigenous peoples a priority, and it was working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis to create sustainable improvements.  In February 2017, the Prime Minister had announced a comprehensive review of laws and policies related to indigenous peoples.  The Government had taken action on root causes which rendered indigenous women more susceptible to violence by investing in women’s shelters, housing, education and child welfare.  At the federal level, in March 2017 Canada’s House of Commons had condemned Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination. 

In the ensuing discussion, Experts noted positive developments in Canada since the previous dialogue, such as the establishment of the Anti-Racism Directorate in 2016, and of an inter-ministerial working group to bring Canada’s laws into compliance with its international obligations towards indigenous peoples.  However, they also raised concern about racial profiling by police, the lack of clear economic and social indicators disaggregated by ethnicity, access to essential services by indigenous persons with disabilities, the lack of implementation of prior, free and informed consent of indigenous peoples, the Government’s granting of extraction permits on indigenous land, ambiguous application of the authority of indigenous peoples and the ownership of their lands, and the underfunding of First Nations child and family services.  Other issues discussed included the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the level of employment of minorities in the civil service, poverty and education problems in the African-Canadian community, and the disproportionate number of indigenous peoples and other minorities in Canada’s prison population.

Nicolás Marugán, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Canada, thanked the delegation for the constructive dialogue and hard work.  He praised the existence of a vibrant civil society in Canada, which said a lot about the country.

In her concluding remarks, Ms. Aitken thanked the Committee Experts’ for their insightful and helpful questions.  She thanked civil society for their active engagement, and in general, for having an opportunity to engage in the dialogue.

Anastasia Crickley, Committee Chairperson, reminded that racialisation of poverty was a very important question for Canada, just like it was for many other countries.  There was also an ongoing concern about indigenous women.  Canada had set a high bar for itself and the Committee was determined to support it in raising that bar. 

The delegation of Canada consisted of representatives of the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, the Department of Justice, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Department of Global Affairs, the Government of Ontario, and the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

At the beginning of the meeting, Ms. Crickley expressed concern over the recent terrorist attack in Burkina Faso and called for solidarity with the people of Burkina Faso.  She acknowledged all the victims of the attack. 

The Committee will next meet in public today at 3 p.m. to start considering the combined twenty-first and twenty-second periodic report of New Zealand (CERD/C/NZL/21-22).

Report

The combined twenty-first to twenty-third periodic report of Canada can be read here: CERD/C/CAN/21-23.

Presentation of the Report

JENIFER AITKEN, Assistant Deputy Minister of Strategic Policy, Planning and Corporate Affairs of Canada, explained that Canada was a federal State, consisting of 10 provinces and three territories.  Each of those governments was sovereign in its own right and had responsibilities for matters within their jurisdiction as provided for in the Constitution.  Federalism was a successful governance model well suited to the diversity of the country’s population and its size.  All jurisdictions shared common values of respect for diversity, human rights and the rule of law, and all had responsibilities for issues related to countering racial discrimination.  Using data from the 2016 census related to visible minority groups, Statistics Canada planned to assess the relevance of the current classification of visible minority groups as a tool to measure inequality in relation to indicators, such as employment rate, low income incidence and over qualification.  That project would examine questions, such as whether the groups currently identified were those most likely to suffer discrimination and whether information for some groups would be more useful if it were disaggregated.  The Multiculturalism Programme financed projects that promoted diversity and inclusion and that encouraged positive interaction and better understanding among cultural, religious and ethnic communities in Canada.  The Canadian Charter on Rights and Liberties stipulated the protection of the rights of all persons, and it guaranteed equality without any discrimination, regardless of race, ethnic or national origin, colour, religion, age, gender, physical or mental disability, and sexual orientation. 

The current Government had made reconciliation with indigenous peoples a priority, and it was working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis to create sustainable improvements.  In December 2016, the Prime Minister had announced the creation of new permanent bilateral mechanisms with national indigenous organizations to develop policy on shared policies and to monitor progress.  The Government had also committed to holding annual meetings between the Prime Minister and indigenous peoples’ representative organizations.  Provincial and territorial governments were engaged in initiatives to advance reconciliation, such as Ontario’s commitment to address the ongoing impacts of Canada’s legacy of residential schools and other devastating colonial policies, to remove barriers, support indigenous culture and reconcile relationships with indigenous peoples.  Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate was working in partnership with the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, and with indigenous peoples to develop an indigenous-focused anti-racism strategy.  In February 2017, the Prime Minister had announced a comprehensive review of laws and policies related to indigenous peoples.  The Government was also committed to ending the ongoing national tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, and had launched an independent national inquiry.  The Government had taken action on root causes which rendered indigenous women more susceptible to violence by investing in women’s shelters, housing, education and child welfare.

In 2016, Canada had announced substantial investments in primary and secondary education on First Nation reserves, and in housing needs.  That work, anchored in reconciliation, was focused on increasing indigenous control for housing delivery and improving outcomes over the longer term.  The Government was also working with indigenous communities, public safety and criminal justice partners to reduce over-representation of indigenous peoples in Canada’s correctional institutions.  It made significant investments in skills and training for indigenous peoples to help First Nations youth acquire better pre-employment skills, access education and training, and overcome barriers to employment.  New investments would provide case management services for youth living on-reserve in receipt of income assistance.  The Government also funded the First Nations and Inuit Child Care Initiative, which helped provide access to quality and culturally relevant child care.  The federal Government had committed to preserve, protect and revitalise First Nations, Métis and Inuit languages through the co-development with indigenous peoples of an Indigenous Languages Act.  That would help address the legacy of racial discrimination and cultural assimilation perpetuated in the residential school system.  Canada was a proud funder of the North American Indigenous Games, which had been hosted in Toronto in 2017. 

Turning to the situation of other groups that faced discrimination, including those of African descent, that issue was a shared effort of federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments.  In 2015, police had reported 1,362 criminal incidents in Canada that had been motivated by hate, which was an increase of five per cent.  At the federal level, in March 2017 Canada’s House of Commons had adopted motion 103, which condemned Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.  The motion required a parliamentary committee to examine how the federal Government could reduce or eliminate systemic racism and religious discrimination.  The findings and recommendations were expected to be presented by November 2017.  Quebec had established an action plan for 2015-2018 to improve understanding of the radicalisation that led to violence, detecting early signs of radicalisation and intervening quickly to prevent intensification.  In March 2017, Ontario had released its first provincial anti-racism strategy – A Better Way Forward – with a focus on addressing systemic challenges in the sectors of education, justice, child welfare and health.  The three levels of Government (federal, provincial and municipal) played an important role in providing social aid directly to those who suffered from poverty due to racial discrimination.  The federal Government offered immigrants, including refugees, specialised services to help them find employment.  Most eligible immigrants obtained Canadian citizenship by naturalisation.  Recent amendments to the Citizenship Act gave more flexibility for eligible applicants to meet the requirements for citizenship and repealed certain provisions of the Act that led to different treatment for dual citizens.  In 2016, Canada had accepted more than 46,000 refugees, including through the Operation Syrian Refugees.  The Government also applied the Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) in the development of its policies and programmes to identify intersecting forms of discrimination.   

Questions by the Country Rapporteur

NICOLÁS MARUGÁN, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Canada, noted all the progress made in Canada.  He noted positive developments since the previous dialogue of the State party with the Committee, such as the restoration of the national mandatory long-form census, the recently announced federal Poverty Reduction Strategy, Quebec’s bill of 2015 on preventing and combatting hate speech and incitement to violence, emphasis on the rights of victims of racist hate crime, the establishment of the Anti-Racism Directorate in 2016, the launch of the Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children Restorative Inquiry, and the establishment of an inter-ministerial working group to bring Canada’s laws into compliance with its international obligations towards indigenous peoples, among others.

Mr. Marugán raised the issue of economic and social indicators disaggregated by ethnicity, and racial profiling by police.  How was Canada ensuring and evaluating that security forces and organizations had policies and that those policies were followed and implemented to prevent discriminatory practices, such as racial profiling?

Was Canada consulting First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples during the development of accessibility legislation to ensure that indigenous persons with disabilities had access to essential services?  Was Canada developing a concrete and specific strategy to ensure that services for indigenous peoples were adequate and equitable?

How was the Government implementing the recommendation requiring States parties to ensure that indigenous peoples were full decision-makers regarding issues relating directly to indigenous peoples and that such decisions were not taken without their informed consent, with specific reference to their land and resources rights?

Would Canada review its decisions regarding the construction of the massive Site C dam to ensure that decisions were made only with free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples?  Was Canada going to make public the results of any Government studies of the Mount Polley mine disaster and the criminal investigation into the disaster so that indigenous peoples were better able to assess the human rights impacts and obtain fair remedy and reparations?  

Was Canada going to ensure that victims of human rights violations associated with the activities of companies had meaningful access to the regulatory mechanisms and to effective judicial and non-judicial remedies?  Was Canada going to create an Ombudsman office to hear and investigate human rights complaints against Canadian extractive firms operating around the world?

Was the Government going to fully comply with the January 2016 ruling and subsequent non-compliance orders of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, including by ending the underfunding of First Nations child and family services, and ensuring that all First Nations children on and off reserve had access to all services available to other children in Canada?   

Was Canada implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that included the creation of a national action plan for implementation?  How were the State party’s police, prosecutors and justice system identifying and recording all hate crimes? 

Was Canada considering ensuring that all persons had access to the right to health, regardless of immigration status?  Was Canada going to ensure that promised reforms to the immigration detention regime were undertaken swiftly and effectively and guarantee that immigration detention was undertaken as a measure of last resort?  Was Canada going to abolish the practice of holding minors in immigration detention? 

Was the Government thinking of withdrawing or temporarily suspending the 2004 Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States?  Were the federal and provincial governments going to increase protection for vulnerable migrant workers and how would that be done? 

Was the federal Government going to work, under the World Conference against Racism Programme for Action, with civil society to create a more robust Canada Action Plan against Racism?

Questions by Experts 

Experts noted the lack of implementation of prior, free and informed consent of indigenous peoples, and the negative impact of several development projects on their culture and heritage.  Those development projects continued to progress despite the protests by affected indigenous communities.  Another problem was barriers to legal recourse with respect to those projects.  The doctrine of discovery (terra nullis) was used as a legal basis to confiscate the lands and territories of indigenous peoples. 

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples should be the basis for the reconciliation process in Canada.  Was Canada ready to work with indigenous peoples in a way that was really based on the Declaration?  What was the situation of the First Nations treaties signed with the British Crown? 

What were the differences between the federal and provincial laws?  Who at the national level monitored the implementation of economic and social rights?

Experts reminded the delegation to provide the Committee with comprehensive and reliable social and economic indicators for the population disaggregated by ethnicity.  When would statistical categories reflect the population of Canada?        

What was the level of employment of minorities in the civil service, including at the federal and provincial level?  To what extent did the equal employment legislation cover the population of Canada?  Would the Government commit to funding from its Poverty Reduction Strategy to specifically address poverty problems in the African-Canadian community? 

As for black students being disciplined in schools, did police officers in schools still carry firearms?  Graduation rates and school drop-out rates were substantially lower among black students.  How would Canada deal with the way black students were treated in the school system? 

Experts observed that instead of dealing with the poverty itself, the child welfare system took away black children from their families.  What would Canada do to stop that practice and ensure that systemic racism was not used to justify forced assimilation?   

ANASTASIA CRICKLEY, Committee Chairperson, reminded the State party of the need to update its core document, and she encouraged the Government of Canada to facilitate individual complaints.     

GUN KUT, Committee Expert and Follow-Up Rapporteur, reminded that in 2012 the Committee had requested Canada to provide information on its follow-up to the recommendations.  The State party had submitted an interim report in September 2014, which was longer than the actual periodic report.  The issues in the interim report concerned the effective integration of Afro-Canadians, combatting violence against indigenous women, social and cultural rights of indigenous peoples, and facilitating access to justice by minority groups.    

Experts welcomed positive developments with respect to the detention of migrants.  However, concerns remained that many migrants could not claim their rights, due to the lack of awareness and resources.  Long-term detainees were disproportionately racialized.  Nearly one third of immigrants were held in provincial prisons, leading to death in some cases.  Was Canada ensuring that migrants could access justice on an equal footing with other citizens?  Would the Government publish relevant statistics on immigrants in detention, and would it impose limitation on immigration detention?

Migrant workers were susceptible to exploitation and abuses, and were denied basic health services, and employment and pension benefits.  They were also excluded from an opportunity to permanently settle in Canada, and they lived under constant threat of deportation and employers’ whim.  Would the federal Government increase the protection of vulnerable migrant workers?  Would it ratify the Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families?  Would Canada ratify the International Labour Organization Convention 189 on the rights of domestic workers?

What were Canada’s projects in the context of the International Decade for People of African Descent? 

There was a disproportionate number of indigenous peoples and other minorities in Canada’s prison population.  What was the number of indigenous youth in prisons?  It was clear that the issue was a serious problem, closely connected to drug use and mental illness.  Were alternative sentences going to be strengthened in that context?     

As for indigenous property rights, there were reports that indigenous peoples had to cede their land in exchange for compensation and that many of them had refused to participate in such schemes.  The compensation amount was symbolic, which could create an impression that Canada was founded on exploitation and oppression.  A more fair means of compensation should be considered.     

The Government had not complied with the decisions of the Human Rights Tribunal concerning the 2016 case of an indigenous child being placed in social care.  Could the delegation comment on this?

As for the low income and poverty levels among South East Asians and discrimination against them in the labour market, had the State party taken any actions to remedy that situation?  Did the State party intend to remedy strict income and tax requirements for family reunion?

How far could Canada offset its bigger neighbour in terms of refugee policy?  What were the major principles and criteria of Canada’s immigration policy?  What was the policy on access to school based on languages?

How did the federal Government ensure legal protection of indigenous peoples at the provincial level?  When was legislative autonomy given to indigenous peoples?  Where was the prohibition of racial hatred institutionalised?  What was the number of prosecuted cases of racial violence?           

Replies by the Delegation

The delegation explained that the Government was designing a national implementation plan for the 2020 Agenda for Sustainable Development, taking into account the needs of indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities, as well as a gender perspective.  Canada’s new foreign assistance policy was based on the Sustainable Development Goals.  The National Statistics Department was working to create a wide range of socio-economic data disaggregated by ethnicity.  The Government was not currently considering the adoption of the International Labour Organization Convention 189. 

As for the extraterritorial application of Canadian laws to Canadian companies, they were not applied abroad.  The Government expected that all Canadian companies operating abroad respected human rights and operated in consultation with host governments.  There were two dispute settlement mechanisms and companies were expected to cooperate with those mechanisms.  Recently, Canadian courts had allowed several cases against Canadian companies to advance. 

The Government was developing legislation to support the revitalisation, preservation and protection of indigenous languages in Canada, and would continue working with indigenous peoples to support such efforts.   Provincial-level projects towards that end were ongoing and were part of the reconciliation process with indigenous peoples.  In Quebec, all inhabitants had to send their children to French-speaking schools.  In June 2016, a French-speaking mobility programme had been launched in order to spread French speaking outside Quebec.  In February 2017, the Government had announced the broadening rights to add to the existing rights, including language rights.

The Government was fully committed to implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action.  A reconciliation secretariat had been established to that end and progress had been made on 48 calls to action.  The Government placed utmost importance to the wellbeing of First Nations children, and it was aware that it could not work alone and that it had to work with indigenous communities to that end.  Prevention and healing were priorities in the delivery of child and family services.  The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal had issued several decisions on the improvement of services for First Nations children and families, in line with the Jordan’s principles.  More than 11,000 requests had been approved by the Government since July 2016.

Provinces and territories received information about the cases of murdered and disappeared indigenous women and girls so that families could access them.  In that sense, the inquiry was truly a national one. 

Canada’s stance was that prior, free and informed consent of indigenous peoples was key for their involvement in the decisions directly related to them.  That principle did not give indigenous peoples veto power, but it granted them consultation rights.  The Government recognized the Mount Polley environmental disaster, but could not reveal information about the ongoing investigation.  All the information would be considered by Canada’s Public Prosecutor.  With respect to the Beaver Lake case, the Government preferred to stay outside the court procedure, which was adversarial and not consultative in nature.   
     
Treaty rights of indigenous peoples could not be exercised except as set out in the treaties.  Many indigenous groups claimed larger territories than previously negotiated in the treaties.  Canada’s position was that the treaty implementation was fair, providing a compensation package that allowed for indigenous control of the settlement lands.  Aboriginal rights were inherently ambiguous and litigation connected with those rights was typically lengthy and enormously costly.

As for temporary foreign workers, they had the same access to health care as other citizens.  The Government took allegations of abuse by employers very seriously.  It had announced new measures to strengthen the framework for the protection of temporary foreign workers, namely increasing the number of on-site visits, and ensuring that workers were aware of their rights.  Canada was reviewing all International Labour Organization’s conventions, including Convention 189.  But, that convention would not be one of the first to be reviewed.

The number of family reunifications had doubled in 2016, and it was projected to double again in 2017.  Each year the Government invested almost one billion dollars to assist refugees in settling in and overcoming barriers.  Canada managed immigration in a balanced way, but it also addressed Canadian social and economic priorities.  Publicly funded provincial healthcare was limited to residents.  Many refugee claimants came to Canada without documents.  While healthcare providers were obliged to provide emergency healthcare to everyone, regardless of their status, courts had found that they were not obliged to provide public healthcare to undocumented migrants.

As for the review of immigration detention, the Government had made investments to improve conditions in detention and to avoid the detention of children.  The 2004 Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States was still in force.

Responding to Experts’ questions about the existence and reliability of disaggregated data on the ethnic composition of the country, the delegation explained that a census was conducted every five years.  The Government understood the importance of gathering high-quality demographic data in order to plan and implement relevant policies.  Visible minorities were defined as those who were non-Caucasian and not belonging to indigenous groups.  Statistics Canada was looking into the usefulness of such categories. 

The National Housing Strategy targeted people with the highest housing needs, such as homeless persons, refugees, persons with low income, and persons with disabilities.  There was no particular focus on Afro-Canadians.  The representation of visible minorities in the civil service stood at 9.4 per cent.  A parliamentary committee was considering how the Government could eliminate systemic racial discrimination.     

The implementation of the Convention was done through the Constitution and ordinary laws, as well as through Government programmes.  There were also federal, provincial and territorial human rights laws that prevented discrimination on various grounds.  The Canadian legislative framework was designed to combat racism and foster inclusive society.  The implementation of cross-cutting international conventions required a cooperative approach of various ministries and taking into account local contexts. 

With respect to the implementation of article 14 of the Convention on the Committee’s competence to receive individual complaints, the Government of Canada was not planning to make a declaration on that issue.  Nevertheless, Canadian citizens had at their disposal several regional and national mechanisms to lodge individual complaints.

Reported hate crimes had increased by some five per cent in 2015.  Hate crimes against Muslims and Catholics had risen, whereas those against Jewish people had declined.  The Criminal Code required judges to sentence any crime based on race, colour, religion, gender, ethnicity and any other ground.  Parliament was considering a bill to specify the list of motivations for hate crimes.  As for the drug strategy, the Government was focused on harm reduction and was reviewing its penal laws in relation to drug users. 

The Government had established an inter-ministerial working group to review all laws related to indigenous peoples, as part of its efforts to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  The Government was also committed to reversing the over-representation of indigenous peoples in prisons, including through the use of restorative justice.  The Correctional Service of Canada had been implementing a culturally tailored programme for indigenous offenders since 2003.  The implementation of the Nelson Mandela rules had made prison administrators responsible for their daily application.

With respect to racial profiling, the police received training on bias-free policing.  Compliance with bias-free policing was done through unit inspections.  The Government of Ontario had issued a new regulation on police profiling and street checks in order to strengthen public accountability.  Minors were detained only as the measure of last resort, and officers had to work with legal guardians and child welfare authorities to assess the child’s best interest.  The average detention time for minors was 13.1 days. 

Canadian federalism stipulated strong mechanisms of cooperation among federal, provincial and territory governments.  Ontario’s first provincial anti-racism strategy – A Better Way Forward – focused on addressing systemic challenges in the sectors of education, justice, child welfare and health.  The Government of Ontario would embark on an extensive data collection and analysis in order to implement its anti-racism strategy.   

Follow-up Questions by Experts

NICOLÁS MARUGÁN, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Canada, asked about the draft project by the Ombudsman Office for complaints on human rights violations perpetrated by Canadian companies abroad.  What kind of powers would that office have?  Transnational litigation was still problematic.

There was no prior, free and informed consent of indigenous peoples in the investigation into the Mount Polley disaster.  Would the proceedings of the investigation be published before the statute of limitation had expired? 

The National Poverty Reduction Strategy did not contain a plan to deal with racialized inequalities.  The Federal Employment Equity Act had to be reformed, and the delegation did not provide information about labour inspections.  

Few security organizations could demonstrate that they indeed followed policies on avoiding racial profiling.  If there was no racial profiling, how come that the police shooting of minority men occurred? 

Experts reminded that Afro-Canadians were continuously the most numerous victims of violent hate crimes in Canada.   

With respect to the granting of mining and natural resources extraction permits on indigenous lands, who had the judicial authority to monitor their issuing?  What happened when the First Nations did not grant their consensus for issuing such permits?

According to the statute of limitation, if an inquiry took more than three years, the case in question would become stillborn.  How was it actually applied in the case of Mount Polley?

How come indigenous women did not take part in the nation-to-nation dialogue?  

Experts required further explanation on why the Canadian Government was not considering the adoption of the International Labour Organization Convention 189, whereas it would consider the adoption of the other International Labour Organization conventions.

NICOLÁS MARUGÁN, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Canada, reminded that the application of the principle of prior, free and informed consent of indigenous peoples in the case of Site C dam project had not been done properly.

He noted that the State party should consider the complete abolition of the detention of minors, and reiterated the question of migrants held in detention in provincial prisons. 

What kind of help was provided to victims of hate crimes in order to encourage better reporting?  How was the burden of proof applied in the prosecution of hate crimes?   

Experts noted that the resources allocated for the study of English and French were much higher that the resources allocated for the study of indigenous languages.  Further investment was needed to ensure that they were on the same level.  

Notwithstanding its high human development index, Canada’s political correctness was not reflected in reality, such as in the area of education. 

Experts noted that there was ambiguous application of the authority of indigenous peoples and the ownership of their lands. 
 
Replies by the Delegation

The delegation explained that the statute of limitation period was five years in the case of the Mount Polley disaster.  The prosecutor in that case decided to proceed without any time limits.  Extraction permits were initially granted prior to legal challenges.  In the event of a legal challenge, courts would decide whether extractive activities would cease. 

The inclusion in the nation-to-nation dialogue was guaranteed by a mechanism for bilateral exchange between the federal Government and representatives of indigenous peoples.  The Prime Minister also held annual meetings with indigenous women.  Nevertheless, various indigenous organizations did not represent the interests of all indigenous peoples in Canada.  The Government was working towards hearing those other voices. 

There was no information on what powers the Ombudsman Office would receive for the operation of Canadian corporations abroad.  In order to regulate their operations abroad, there were two mechanisms, namely the Canada National Contact Point and the Export Development Canada.  Companies that did not engage meaningfully with those mechanisms would not receive the Government’s support and advocacy abroad. 

The Canadian Human Rights Commission’s recommendations on racial profiling concerned several measures within the context of Canada’s intelligence activities to ensure compliance with the law.  Part of the strategy to bridge the chasm between policy and practice was to monitor the outcomes of practice.  Data collection played a key role in that respect.  There was a recognition of the problem of anti-black racism and anti-indigenous racism. 

Hate crimes and propaganda were prohibited under the Criminal Code.  There was a broad protection of various groups against hate crimes.  Federal public prosecutors received mandatory training on discrimination, including on indigenous issues and rights.  Victims had the right to information, participation and restitution. 

Canada had actively participated in the negotiations of the International Labour Organization Convention 189, but had in the end decided not to ratify it as those concerns had been addressed in other international conventions that the country had ratified.  The inspection of employers ensured that the rights of migrant workers were respected.  The number of inspections had increased each year since their introduction. 

The Government had not established a time limit for the detention of migrants, which did not constitute indefinite detention, according to the Supreme Court of Canada.  No one in Canada was detained because they were migrants. 

Extensive consultations had been undertaken on the new disability legislation, including with indigenous peoples.  Funding had been allocated to disability organizations to take part in that process. 

There were extensive consultations with indigenous peoples regarding the Site C dam.  The Supreme Court had quashed some development projects in cases where there was no adequate consultation process with indigenous peoples.                    
The treaty on aboriginal rights could not be extinguished, in line with the Constitution.  But aboriginal rights remained somewhat ambiguous.  The way in which the Government of Canada included indigenous lands into treaty settlements was a very technical question. 

Concluding Remarks

NICOLÁS MARUGÁN, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur for Canada, thanked the delegation for the constructive dialogue and hard work.  He praised the existence of a vibrant civil society in Canada, which said a lot about the country.

JENIFER AITKEN, Assistant Deputy Minister of Strategic Policy, Planning and Corporate Affairs of Canada, thanked the Committee Experts for their insightful and helpful questions.  She thanked civil society for their active engagement, and in general, for having an opportunity to engage in the dialogue.

ANASTASIA CRICKLEY, Committee Chairperson, reminded that racialisation of poverty was a very important question for Canada, just like it was for many other countries.  There was also an ongoing concern about indigenous women.  Canada had set a high bar for itself and the Committee was determined to support it in raising that bar. 

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