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TITLE:  CANADA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995









                             CANADA


Canada is a constitutional monarchy with a federal 
parliamentary form of government.  Representatives in the 
multiparty political system are elected by universal suffrage 
at local, provincial, and federal levels.  An independent 
judiciary interprets the Constitution.

Elected civilian officials control the federal, provincial, and 
municipal police forces.  The armed forces have no role in 
domestic law enforcement except in national emergencies.  Laws 
requiring the security forces to respect human rights are 
strictly observed, and violators are punished by the courts.

Canada has a highly developed market-based economic system.  
Laws extensively protect the well-being of workers, and provide 
for workers' freedom of association.

Canadians enjoy, in law and in practice, a wide range of 
freedoms and individual rights as provided for in the Charter 
of Rights and Freedoms, which was appended to Canada's revised 
Constitution in 1982.  Principal complaints concerning human 
rights issues have to do with discrimination against 
minorities, aboriginals, the disabled, and women.  The 
Constitution and laws provide avenues for legal redress of such 
complaints, and the Government and private organizations seek 
to ensure that human rights are respected in practice at all 
levels of society.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of politically motivated or other 
extrajudicial killings.  Several members of a Canadian military 
unit faced or are currently facing courts-martial for torturing 
and killing a suspected thief in their custody during a 
peacekeeping mission in Somalia in 1993.  The primary suspect 
was found to be mentally unfit for trial.  Several defendents 
were found guilty, including one who was convicted of torture.

In July the Federal Government amended the Criminal Code to 
further restrict use of deadly force by police officers against 
fleeing suspects.
     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of disappearances.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

The law prohibits torture and other cruel or inhuman treatment, 
and the authorities generally respect this.  During 1994 there 
were isolated reports of excessive use of force by police.  
Such incidents often strained relations between minority 
communities and the police.  In Toronto, police developed a 
cross-cultural course on race relations that is to start in 
1995, and expanded other training.  Minorities continued to be 
underrepresented on most police forces, although new hiring 
procedures seek to correct this.

In December a Quebec Court ruled that five officers from the 
Montreal Urban Constabulary (MUC) must stand trial on 
aggravated assault charges stemming from the alleged beating of 
a suspect in 1993.  A provincial-level inquiry into this and 
previous incidents recommended various specific corrective 
measures after it found the MUC to be poorly supervised, 
insufficiently trained, inadequately equipped, and racist.  The 
new police chief began to implement many of the 
recommendations.  A multiracial independent committee on police 
ethics found that a 1991 MUC lethal shooting was a justifiable 
use of force.

Prisons in Canada are open to independent monitoring by human 
rights groups and the media.

(See also the case cited in 1.a.)

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, and is 
respected in practice.  It requires arrests to be made under 
warrants issued by judicial authorities, except in cases 
involving violation of the Official Secrets Act.  Suspects must 
be charged before a justice of the peace or a judge within 72 
hours of arrest.  During national emergencies, the Federal 
Government is authorized to take special measures, including 
the suspension of civil liberties, to ensure safety and 
security.

In September a Supreme Court decision strengthened the rights 
of individuals to receive immediate legal advice before 
questioning by authorities can begin.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The judicial system is based on English common law at the 
federal level as well as in most provinces; in the province of 
Quebec it is based on the Napoleonic Code.  Throughout Canada, 
judges are appointed.  In criminal trials, the law provides for 
a presumption of the defendant's innocence and the rights to a 
public trial, to counsel (free for indigents), and to appeal.

In 1994, judges occasionally exercised their power to close 
courtrooms to the media in order to protect victims (mainly, 
children) and to guarantee fair and impartial hearings.  Such 
actions caused considerable controversy (see Section 2.a.).  
The overwhelming majority of trials, including military 
courts-martial, remain open to the public and the media.

Under the Official Secrets Act, which prohibits the private 
possession, distribution, or publication of information deemed 
prejudicial to the interests of the State, trials involving 
classified government information may be held in secret, with 
certain presumptions in favor of the State.  Prosecutions under 
this statute are extremely rare, and convictions have proven 
hard to sustain on appeal.  During 1994, federal authorities 
seized material from a television station in conjunction with 
an ongoing investigation of possible violations of the Act by a 
former government employee.

There are no political prisoners.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

The Constitution affords Canadians strong legal protection from 
arbitrary interference, and federal and provincial governments 
generally do not interfere with an individual's basic rights 
without due process.  Intrusive searches may be carried out 
only when there is a demonstrable, reasonable basis for 
presuming the affected person is involved in criminal 
activity.  Police officials face judicial penalties for abuse 
of a person's privacy if they do not obtain a judicial search 
warrant in advance.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and 
the authorities generally respect this.  In 1993 an Ontario 
judge banned news reports about a trial concerning a grisly 
murder; in 1994 a group of media organizations unsuccessfully 
tried to have this ban declared unconstitutional, and in May a 
judge fined an individual for violating the ban.  In December 
the Supreme Court ruled that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms 
gives equal standing to the right of free speech and the right 
to a fair trial; it is unclear how this ruling will affect 
media restrictions already in place.

Some restrictions on free speech and press are imposed by 
provincial-level film censorship, broadcasters' voluntary codes 
curbing graphic violence, and laws against hate literature and 
pornography.  In 1994 television stations canceled a show for 
children after complaints about its violent content.

Federal customs authorities confiscate sexually explicit 
material when inspecting imported material.  During 1994 human 
rights and homosexual organizations protested such a seizure of 
books intended for a store in British Columbia.  Toronto police 
confiscated paintings of children which they claimed were 
indecent under Federal statutes.

The Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits repeated communications 
by telephone that expose a person or group to hatred or 
contempt.  In 1994 federal courts jailed several individuals 
who violated this law.

The Constitution protects the linguistic and cultural rights of 
minorities.  Laws in the province of Quebec stipulate that 
French is the working language of most businesses, and require 
most children to receive publicly-funded education in French.  
In 1993 Quebec liberalized its law restricting public display 
of signs in languages other than French; in 1994 the province 
dropped charges against several individuals who had violated 
the old law while it was still in effect.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for freedom of assembly and 
association, and the authorities respect this.  Permits are not 
required for meetings.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

There is complete freedom of religion.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Citizens are free to travel within, from, or back to the 
country, and to emigrate or repatriate.  Canada continues to be 
a haven for many refugees and asylum seekers.  The Government 
cooperates with the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for 
Refugees and other humanitarian organizations in assisting 
refugees.  There are no credible reports of forced expulsion of 
those having a valid claim to refugee status.

Canada recognizes refugee claims from applicants facing 
persecution because of gender.  Although the guidelines on 
granting refugee status to women do not have the status of 
laws, they are based on the Canadian Charter of Rights and 
Freedoms and other human rights legislation.  In 1994, the 
first full year in which the guidelines were in effect, some 
two-thirds of such claimants were granted refugee status.

The Government's policy of deporting noncitizen immigrants who 
have a record of serious criminal convictions was challenged 
before the U.N. Human Rights Committee by a Toronto resident.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Federal and provincial governments are freely elected by secret 
ballot through universal suffrage.  The Governor General 
represents Canada's Head of State, Queen Elizabeth II.  In 
practice, power is exercised by the Prime Minister and the 
Cabinet, who usually are elected members of the 295-seat House 
of Commons.  Legislative elections at both the federal and 
provincial levels must be held at least every 5 years.

The official opposition in Parliament, as well as the Quebec 
Provincial Government, supports independence for Quebec.

All citizens have equal political rights, and these rights are 
respected in practice.  There are no impediments de jure or de 
facto to participation by women, minorities, and aboriginals at 
any level in politics or government.  Women have headed major 
political parties and served as Prime Minister and Governor 
General.  Although aboriginals are usually consulted on 
decisions affecting their interests, many bands continue to 
press the Government to grant them more autonomy.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

The numerous private human rights organizations in the country 
operate freely.  The Canadian Human Rights Commission and its 
provincial counterparts investigate and seek to resolve 
complaints of discrimination and abuses of civil rights.  
Canada has a long-standing record of cooperation with outside 
investigations of alleged human rights abuses.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides for equal benefits 
and protection of the law regardless of race, sex, religion, 
mental or physical disability, national or ethnic origin, or 
age.  The Government generally respects these rights, but there 
are occasional charges of violations by officials.

In September a new law in Ontario, the Employment Equity Act,  
required the vast majority of employers to begin removing 
discriminatory barriers against women, aboriginals, people with 
disabilities, and racial minorities.  The Act covers about 
three-fourths of the work force in Ontario.  It does not apply 
to employers in the private sector with under 50 employees, to 
employers in the public sector with under 10 employees, to 
police forces covered by the Police Services Act (which has its 
own equity regulations), or to federally-regulated employers 
such as banks.  Ontario's public sector is also covered by 
earlier, similar legislation, which specifically designates  
French-speakers as one of the groups thus assisted.

Despite Canada's policy of bilingualism, English-speakers in 
Quebec and French-speakers in other provinces generally use the 
majority language.  In Quebec, language laws allow access to 
public English-language schools only for children whose parents 
received English-language education in Canada.  While the other 
provinces do not have similar laws restricting access to public 
French-language schooling, many of their localities have 
inadequate facilities.  The recent establishment of 
French-language school boards in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and 
Manitoba are intended to help alleviate such problems.

     Women

The law prohibits violence against women, including spousal 
abuse.  Enforcement may be hindered, however, by a recent 
Supreme Court ruling which established extreme drunkenness as a 
valid defense.  Defendants in a rape trial and in a spousal 
abuse trial used this defense and were acquitted.  The 
Government is considering legislation to restrict this defense.

Federal and provincial governments and nongovernmental 
organizations are continuing to fund various educational and 
preventive programs dealing with family violence, largely 
focusing on violence against women.  Many police forces now run 
courses that train officers to deal with family violence.

Women are well represented in the labor force, including 
business and the professions, but government reports show that 
women generally still earn considerably less than men in 
similar work, despite recent gains.  Other surveys indicate 
there is little if any such disparity for women who are 
university graduates.  Women enjoy the same marriage rights and 
property rights as do men.

The law prohibits sexual harassment, and the Government 
respects this provision.  Official data released in December 
indicated that 23 percent of adult women had suffered sexual 
harassment in the workplace.  Labor unions and other interest 
groups have been taking steps against such offenses; e.g., in 
the automobile industry, the most recent contracts between the 
union and major manufacturers provide for employer-funded 
assistance to women victimized by harassment on the job or 
abuse at home.

     Children

Federal and provincial regulations protect children from abuse, 
overwork, and discrimination, and duly penalize perpetrators of 
such offenses.

     Indigenous People

Treatment of its native peoples continues to be one of the 
nation's most important human rights issues.  Tensions are rife 
on many reserves, due to disputes over self-government, treaty 
rights, land claims, taxation, duty-free imports, fishing and 
hunting rights, and alleged harassment by police.  Aboriginals 
remain underrepresented in the work force, overrepresented on 
welfare rolls, and more susceptible to poverty and suicide than 
other groups.  In 1994 the Royal Aboriginal Commission 
continued hearings on aboriginals' concerns.

The British Columbia Treaty Commission facilitated negotiations 
among aboriginal groups, the Provincial Government, and the 
Federal Government which are expected to provide aboriginals 
with considerable benefits:  cash compensation for and/or title 
to lands claimed by them; a share in fishing and forestry 
revenues from those lands; and new powers of self-government.  
In its first annual report, this Commission noted that the 
federal and provincial governments "do not appear to have a 
consistent approach" to the treaty process.

The Federal Government decided to dismantle the Department of 
Indian and Northern Affairs, a move welcomed by aboriginal 
groups.  In December the Minister heading the Department signed 
an accord with native leaders transferring power from it in 
Manitoba to native governments.  Also during 1994, Nova Scotia 
established a native police force and created a framework for 
native self-government and education.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The law prohibits racial discrimination, and the authorities 
respect this provision.  As before, nevertheless, there were 
isolated incidents of racially motivated discrimination, some 
involving violence.

Several hospitals in Ontario compensated employees affected by 
past discriminatory practices against racial minorities, and 
instituted measures to guard against such practices.

An Ontario commission reported overt and systemic racism in the 
province's prison system; the Solicitor General publicly 
declared his intention to follow up the commission's 
recommendations.

The Halifax City Police Force, continuing to address minority 
concerns, appointed its first race relations coordinator.

     People with Disabilities

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Human Rights Act 
explicitly prohibit discrimination against people with 
disabilities.  Under Treasury Board guidelines, all facilities 
leased and owned by the Government were to be accessible to 
persons with disabilities by the end of the year.  Progress 
toward this goal was noteworthy, but incomplete.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

Except for members of the armed forces, workers in both the 
public and private sectors have the right to associate freely.  
The Labour Code, protects these rights for all employees under 
federal jurisdiction, while provincial legislation protects all 
other organized workers.

Trade unions are independent of the Government.  They are free 
to affiliate  with international organizations.  37.5 percent 
of the nonagricultural work force is unionized.

All workers have the right to strike, except for those in the 
public sector providing essential services.

The law prohibits retribution against strikers and union 
leaders, and the Government enforces this provision.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Workers in both the public sector (except for some police) and 
the private sector have the right to organize and bargain 
collectively.  While the law protects collective bargaining, 
for some public-sector workers providing essential services 
there are limitations, which vary from province to province.  
In 1994 the federal and some provincial governments instituted 
a freeze on wages of civil servants, an action that the unions 
decried as interference with their right to collective 
bargaining.

The law prohibits antiunion discrimination, and requires 
employers to reinstate workers fired for union activities.  
There are effective mechanisms for resolving complaints and 
obtaining redress.

All labor unions have full access to mediation, arbitration, 
and the judicial system.

Canada has no export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced labor is illegal, and there were no known violations.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

Child-labor legislation varies from province to province.  The 
Federal Government does not employ youths under 17 years of age 
while school is in session.  Most provinces prohibit those 
under age 15 or 16 from working without parental consent, or at 
night, or in any hazardous employment.  These prohibitions are 
effectively enforced through inspections conducted by the 
federal and provincial Labor Ministries.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The federal minimum wage, established by ministerial order and 
enforced by the Department of Labor, applies to employees in 
industries under federal jurisdiction (about 8 percent of the 
work force); since 1986 it has remained at $2.97 (4.00 Canadian 
dollars).  In all the provinces, the minimum wage is higher 
than the federal minimum.  For youths and students, Ontario, 
Alberta, British Columbia, and the Northwest Territories have a 
minimum wage lower than the respective standard minimum, as 
does Nova Scotia for "inexperienced workers".  A family whose 
only employed member earns the minimum wage would be considered 
below the poverty line.

Standard workhours vary from province to province, but in all 
the limit is 40 or 48 a week, with at least 24 hours of rest.

Federal law provides for safety and health standards for 
employees under federal jurisdiction, while provincial and 
territorial legislation provide for all other employees.  Labor 
departments monitor and enforce these standards.

Federal, provincial, and territorial laws protect the right of 
workers with "reasonable cause" to refuse dangerous work.


(###)

[end of document]

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